Health Benefits of Soy

The health benefits of soy have been controversial. Although the soybean matrix is complex and contains a great amino acid protein base, anti-viral, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, vasodilator and anti-cancer properties there are people against soy products. Much of the disagreement between those “for” or “against” soy products comes from the fact that all soy products are not created equal.

Unfermented soy products contain haemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors, which are growth-stunting factors. In addition, unfermented soy products have one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume. Most critics of soy dislike soy products for these reasons. However, a good fermented soy product eliminates undesirable compounds and accentuates the positive benefits of the components in soy. Haelan 951, a commercially available fermented soy beverage has a study showing that stunted animals are restored to normal growth after consuming this fermented soy product. Research also shows that the complaint about the phytate content in soybeans is offset by the fact that the mineral binding characteristics of the phytates prevent colon and colon-rectal cancers and slow down the growth rate of other cancers. A good fermented whole soy product does not have the objectionable characteristics found in unfermented soy products. Research has shown anti-aging and other health benefits derived from soy components in numerous studies. It is safe to say unfermented soy products have problems but a good fermented soy product can be great. They can provide tremendous health benefits, particularly for cancer patients.

An NCI $20 million study of anti-cancer compounds in foods discovered five super star classes of anti-cancer compounds. All are in soybeans. These were identified as isoflavones, protease inhibitors, phytosterols, saponins and phytic acid compounds. A report on these anti-cancer compounds was published in the Journal of the NCI on April 17, 1991. Since this publication there have been more than 8,000 studies on soy and its beneficial health promoting compounds. All soy products are not created equal. A good one is fermented. Some products are manufactured from the whole soybean while others contain isolated components of soy. One fermented whole soy beverage, Haelan 951, has an extensive anti-aging clinical study and is considered by many to be the best anti-aging product in the world. The healthy beneficial mechanisms of soy compounds include DNA repair, anti-angiogenesis, restoration of apoptosis, immune stimulation, detoxification, improved estrogen metabolism, enhanced organ function, reduction of cancer cell division times (mytosis), protection from the toxic side effects of chemotherapy treatments, and the prevention of cancer cell mutations induced by chemotherapy.

In summary, fermented soy products are known to contain isoflavones, protease inhibitors, saponins, phytosterols, and phytic acid compounds that exhibit anticancer activity in preclinical models. Research supports the prospective evaluation of fermented soy products as an alternative therapy in patients with chemotherapy refractory ovarian cancer and other cancers that are not responsive to chemotherapy. The use of these products to enhance chemotherapy, reduce toxic effects of chemotherapy and prevent mutations induced by chemotherapy offers new hope for many patients. In addition, these products can help the physician manage the disease while it is treated with conventional therapies resulting in improved treatment compliance and patient outcomes.

3 Myth-Busters About Cancer

Test yourself: Which of these three cancer myths is a fact?
· Cancer is not contagious — myth or fact?
Some cancer is caused by contagious viruses, like HIV. So in a way, you can catch cancer. You can’t directly swap cancer through bloodstream, saliva, or germs, but you can pass along some of the organisms that could cause cancer in a roundabout way. This is especially true for cervical and liver cancers, as well as some lymphomas.

· Benign tumors should always be left alone — myth or fact?
Benign tumors don’t have cancer cells, but they can still be dangerous. That’s because tumors can grow large enough to block the pathway of important nutrients, or put pressure on critical organs. For example, even though many brain tumors will never spread, they are still removed.

· If you’re diagnosed with cancer, you need treatment right away — myth or fact?
Even though some cancers spread quickly, it’s always smart to get a second opinion. Good doctors will encourage you to get one to confirm that the diagnosis is correct. The best second opinion comes from a doctor at a different institution than where the first doctor practices, and one that is well regarded in cancer treatment. After that, see someone that specializes in the type of cancer involved, because he or she will have a better handle on the different courses of treatment.

Tip References: YOU: The Owner’s Manual. Roizen, M. F., Oz, M. C., New York: HarperCollins, 2005.

About the Author:
Walter H. Wainright, President, Haelan Research

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