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Nutr Cancer. 2004;49(1):59-65.

A pilot clinical study of short-term isoflavone supplements in breast cancer patients.

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University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Surgery, Division of Oncology, 90095, USA.


Many laboratory-based studies have shown that soy can suppress breast cancer proliferation. However, given the recent controversy generated by animal experiments that soy may under certain conditions stimulate breast cancer growth, we decided to carry out a pilot clinical trial in order to elucidate any interaction(s) between short-term isoflavone supplement administration and breast cancer growth. After a core-needle biopsy established the diagnosis of breast cancer, 17 patients were administered soy isoflavone tablets for two weeks. This surgically based study provided the unique opportunity to make objective observations based on human breast cancer tissues and blood obtained prior to and after isoflavone supplement treatment in the same patient. Twenty-six historical control cases with similar characteristics to the experimental patients were selected for comparison. We observed that the apoptosis/mitosis ratios in isoflavone-treated cancer specimens were not significantly different from those of control untreated cancer specimens. Furthermore, there appeared to be a statistically nonsignificant trend towards cancer growth inhibition in the isoflavone treatment group, as manifested by higher apoptosis/mitosis ratios compared with those from the control untreated group. Ex vivo/in vitro assays using serum from breast cancer patients prior to and at the conclusion of soy treatment reveal no significant proliferative changes on both breast cancer cells and endothelial cells. We concluded that the effect of soy on breast cancer deserves further studies in larger clinical trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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