Fight tumors with tofu?

New research suggests that women who ate soy before their diagnosis had a much better chance of surviving lung cancer.

A dose of soy no bigger than a burger has been linked to higher cancer survival rates in women. A new study from China reports that women who consumed more soy before being diagnosed with lung cancer lived longer compared with those who consumed less soy. The study is published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“This study provides some early evidence that consuming large amounts of soy food may help women, particularly never smokers, live longer if they should develop lung cancer,” said Jyoti Patel, MD, American Society of Clinical Oncology Cancer Communications Committee member in a release.

The study analyzed the impact of soy intake on lung cancer survival among participants of the Shanghai Women’s Health Study, which tracked cancer incidence in 74,941 Shanghai women. Subjects were divided into three groups according to their soy consumption before their cancer diagnosis. The highest and lowest intake levels were equivalent to approximately four ounces or more and two ounces or less tofu per day, respectively. Patients with the highest soy food intake had markedly better overall survival compared with those with the lowest intake. Sixty percent of patients in the highest intake group and 50 percent in the lowest intake group were alive a year after diagnosis.

Check out a nifty infographic about the study below and here.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to suggest an association between high soy consumption before a lung cancer diagnosis and better overall survival,” said lead study author Gong Yang, MD, a research associate professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the release. “Although the findings are very promising, it’s too early to give any dietary recommendations for the general public on the basis of this single study.”

The U.S. National Cancer Institute funded the research, which was conducted by investigators at Vanderbilt University in collaboration with researchers from the Shanghai Cancer Institute and NCI. A recent study by the same research team showed that high intake of soy food was associated with a 40 percent decrease in lung cancer risk. The team plans to research if soy consumption after cancer diagnosis affects survival, most notably among people with early-stage cancer who may benefit most from nutritional intervention. 

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

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