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J Nutr. 1995 Mar;125(3 Suppl):733S-743S.

The evidence for soybean products as cancer preventive agents.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104.


There is much evidence suggesting that compounds present in soybeans can prevent cancer in many different organ systems. The evidence for specific soybean-derived compounds having a suppressive effect on carcinogenesis in animal model systems is limited, however. There is evidence that the following isolated soybean derived products suppress carcinogenesis in vivo: a protease inhibitor, the Bowman-Birk inhibitor, inositol hexaphosphate (phytic acid) and the sterol beta-sitosterol. Other compounds that may be able to suppress carcinogenesis in animals are the soybean isoflavones. Soybean compounds reported to have other types of anticarcinogenic activity include soybean trypsin inhibitor, saponins and genistein. There is much evidence to suggest that diets containing large amounts of soybean products are associated with overall low cancer mortality rates, particularly for cancers of the colon, breast and prostate. It is believed that supplementation of human diets with certain soybean products shown to suppress carcinogenesis in animals could markedly reduce human cancer mortality rates.

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