Home Health Breast Cancer: Soybeans and Cruciferous Vegetables to Reduce Treatment Side Effects

Breast Cancer: Soybeans and Cruciferous Vegetables to Reduce Treatment Side Effects

New study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment on Monday suggests diets high in soybeans and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, kale) may reduce treatment-related side effects in women with breast cancer like hot flashes or night sweats.

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Glucosinolates, sulfur compounds in cruciferous vegetables, would play a favorable role in inflammation and estrogen levels, thus reducing the side effects of treatments. 

If continuing to practice physical activity during and after illness is essential to reduce fatigue, limit the loss of muscle mass induced by cancer treatments and help with the side effects, the diet is also a way to consider, suggests a study conducted by researchers at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in the United States from 365 women who have survived breast cancer .

Hormone therapy: soy consumption associated with fewer side effects

They found that those who consumed the most soy products (milk, tofu, edamame, miso) up to 865 grams per day and green vegetables from the cruciferous family (kale, red cabbage, kale, cabbage broccoli) had fewer side effects such as hot flashes or night sweats generated by estrogen-blocking therapies ( hormone therapy ). In particular, soy has been associated with less fatigue and slightly less joint pain, hair loss or memory.

According to the researchers, the isoflavones contained in soy (natural chemicals from plants that act in the body similarly to estrogen) and glucosinolates (sulfur compounds) vegetables probably play a role in the inflammation and estrogen levels thus mitigating side effects.

More studies are needed before advocating soy consumption

These beneficial consequences were significantly observed in white women while they were not noticeable among participants of Chinese origin who already consumed twice as much soy and cruciferous food as other women before their cancer, the authors of the study say.

Western European countries consume only about 2 to 16 mg of isoflavones daily compared with 66 mg in most oriental regimens.

Thus, researchers are cautious and do not advocate a radical food shift including this type of ingredients in large quantities if they were not already part of eating habits before the disease.

These studies, which require further investigation on a larger sample and in the longer term, reveal for the moment the benefit of taking soy and cruciferous vegetables long before the cancer is declared as well as its continuation during and after treatments.

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