Soy protein and prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the number two cancer killer of men in this country. Treatment options range from surgery to “watchful waiting.” Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Fla., are studying a dietary supplement that could be a treatment option someday.

Although 73-year-old James Nichols has prostate cancer, he doesn’t let it affect his active life. “I think exercise is the best thing you can do for your health, no matter what you’ve got,” says James.

James was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1994. Because his tumor is slow growing, his doctor is taking a “watchful waiting” approach to the cancer. However, now he’s part of a study that will help doctors find out if there’s an easy way to keep prostate cancer from spreading. It would mean eating something not many men eat these days: soy protein.

Karen Besterman-Dehan, R.D., a research dietician at the Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, says, “Western populations seem to have a higher risk of prostate cancer. They have a higher incidence as opposed to men from Asian countries where there’s a higher intake of soy.”

Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute is studying a soy supplement called genistein to see if it has an effect on the cancer. Study participants take 60 milligrams of a specially made soy mixture every day for three months.

Karen says, “What we’re hoping in this study is that the rate at which the cancer cells multiply will decrease.”

Incorporating soy into his already healthy diet was a seamless transition for James. “After the first week or so, I actually got so I kind of liked it,” says James. He says a sense of humor and zest for life helps.

Soy can be found in tofu, miso, soymilk, soy nuts, soybeans and soy chips. The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends three to four servings of soy per week. However, it does not recommend taking soy supplements because the long-term effects are unknown.

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