Heath: Soya clue to cancer prevention

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The Independent Online
Soya products, fruit, vegetables and flax seed may ward off breast cancer, according to research. It is a diet that may turn out to be the strongest protective factor yet discovered against the disease. Scientists believe they have identified an element in the regime which may reduce the risk of breast cancer up to fourfold.

A comparison of two groups found that those who ate a diet rich in phyto- oestrogens, a group of naturally occurring chemicals derived from plants, were much less likely to develop the disease. Phyto-oestrogens are similar to the hormone oestrogen and are found mainly in soya products and the fibre present in whole grains, berries, fruit, vegetables and flax seed. Researchers have long known that diet plays a part in breast cancer based on evidence that women who migrate from countries where the disease is rare, such as Japan, to those where it is common, such as the US, increase their risk as they adopt the lifestyle of the host country.

Researchers at the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre in Perth, Western Australia, interviewed 144 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer and compared them with the same number of controls. They tested their urine for a range of phyto-oestrogens and similar compounds called lignans and found high levels were associated with a substantial reduction in risk of the disease.