The meta-analysis of 12 published epidemiological studies relating to soy consumption and breast cancer in women around the world by Dr Lin Yan, director of cancer research for The Solae Company, and Dr Edward Spitznagel, professor of mathematics at Washington University, was published in the April issue of The International Journal of Cancer Prevention.
The researchers found that soy protein consumption seemed to be linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer in pre- and postmenopausal women. Moreover, soy consumption by adolescents may be related to a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
"Given the chilling fact that breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death for American women, we believe that this meta-analysis provides valuable information for women in making healthy dietary choices," said Yan.
According to American Cancer Society estimates, there are around 40,000 deaths from breast cancer in the US each year and 210,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed.
Last year The Solae Company filed a Qualified Health Claim (QHC) petition with the FDA linking consumption of foods and beverages containing soy protein to a reduced risk of hormone-related cancers, such as breast, prostate and colon cancer.
The company said that the results of Yan and Spitznagel's study are consistent with the body of evidence it submitted to the FDA in support of the QHC. The agency requested an extension to the review period in November to take into account the latest scientific evidence and a decision is expected in the coming weeks.
In 1999 the FDA cleared a QHC suggesting that a diet rich in soy protein 'may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.'