Updated 27 October 2015

Soy cuts prostate cancer marker

Two servings of soy a day reduced levels of the prostate cancer marker PSA in free-living men by 14 percent, but didn’t affect testosterone levels, says a new study from Hawaii.


And the success of the compliance led the researchers to suggest that such an intervention could be feasible in free-living populations.

PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer and for tracking the disease after its diagnosis. The findings therefore lend support to epidemiologic evidence suggesting that soy may reduce the risk of prostate cancer development and progression.

And the results of the new randomised, crossover clinical trial, published online in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602473), also appear to show that testosterone levels were not affected by the high soy diet.

The isoflavones of soy are phytoestrogens, meaning they exert mild oestrogen-like action. But the results of the study indicate that the testosterone levels of the male volunteers were unaffected in this short, small-scale trial.

How the research was done

The researchers, led by Gertraud Maskarinec from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, recruited 23 men (average 58,7) and randomised them to receive either a high soy diet (two servings of soy per day) or a low soy diet (normal diet) for three months. At the end of the first intervention, a one-month washout period followed, and then the men crossed over to eat the other diet for a further three months.

Compliance with the diets was assessed using soy calendars, 24-hour dietary recalls, and urinary isoflavone excretion measurements, and was found to be high for the participants. Blood samples were also collected to measure concentrations of testosterone and PSA.

As expected, the dietary isoflavone intake and isoflavone excretion increased during the high soy diet phase, relative to the low soy diet.

“The high adherence of compliance in this pilot trial demonstrated the feasibility of an intervention based on soy foods among free-living men,” said the researchers.

Previous results confirmed

The research adds to a growing number of studies linking soy-containing diets to lower incidences of prostate cancer. But longer and larger trials are needed to confirm or challenge these findings.

Over half a million news cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year world wide, and the cancer is the direct cause of over 200 000 deaths. More worryingly, the incidence of the disease is increasing with a rise of 1,7 percent over 15 years.

The lowest incidences of the cancer are found in China, Japan and India, with experts linking this to a high dietary intake of soy products. A recent meta-analysis from the International Journal of Cancer (2005, Vol. 117, pp. 667 - 669) reported that men who regularly consumed soy-containing products had a 30 percent lower risk of the cancer.

Source: Decision News Media

Read more:

Soy sauce could protect the heart

Soy tied to better lung cancer survival


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Mental health & your work »

How open are you about mental illness in the workplace?

Mental health in the workplace – what you can do to help

If you know that one of your colleagues suffers from a mental illness, would you be able to help them at work? Maligay Govender offers some helpful mental health "first aid" tips.

Sleep & You »

Sleep vs. no sleep Diagnosis of insomnia

6 things that are sabotaging your sleep

Kick these shut-eye killers to the kerb and make your whole life better – overnight.