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August 19, 2019 - BBC

Is soya bad for woman's health?

Is soya bad for woman's health?
Credit: Mak

Consumed in many traditional Asian populations for millennia, soya has only been a common part of the Western diet for around 60 years.

As a good source of protein, unsaturated fatty acids, B vitamins, fibre, iron, calcium and zinc, it is becoming increasingly popular in the West as a healthy substitute for meat. It has also been linked to a lower risk of heart disease compared to other diets.

The controversy around soya comes down to its uniquely high content of isoflavones. These compounds have oestrogenic properties, which means they act like oestrogen, the primary female sex hormone, and bind to oestrogen receptors in the body – and oestrogen can fuel the growth of some types of breast cancer. But while scientists have extensively researched the compound’s effects in the body over the last few decades, the answer about whether isoflavones themselves can contribute to cancer risk isn’t straightforward. And often, it seems soya protects against cancer risk.

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