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To Soy Or Not To Soy…That Is The Question

I have a dilemma. I have had both breast cancer and a heart attack. That isn’t my dilemma though. I’m fine from both of those events. My dilemma is this…one of the most controversial food items is part of the narrative in both of those health events, both pro and con.

According to this article, there are good points and bad points regarding soy. Let’s look at them, shall we?


Helps reduce cholesterol – in classic heart disease, cholesterol is often a culprit in blocked arteries. Such was not the case for me. For those for whom cholesterol is a menace, soy helps to reduce cholesterol levels and blood fat levels.

Helps reduce heart disease – soy contains isoflavones, which are plant based forms of estrogen. They help support the blood vessel lining and protect the arteries from sustaining damage.

Increases bone density – people of a certain age, more specifically women, need to be concerned about their bone density once they pass menopause. Soy can slow the onset of osteoporosis.


Can cause pregnancy problems – as mentioned before, soy contains isoflavones which are a form of phytoestrogen. Because a developing fetus is very sensitive to hormonal fluctuations, soy can have an impact on the way the body’s estrogen performs. This can affect the fetus and impair reproductive health in the long term.

Can impact thyroid function – a study in Japan found that people who consumed an ounce of soy daily for three months showed lower levels of iodine in the body and reduced thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

Can trigger an allergic reaction – itching, inflammation, hives and even anaphylaxis has been linked to soy consumption. Soy shows up in so many processed foods that it’s hard to avoid unless you prepare your food from scratch…a benefit in itself.

Cancer risk – there are studies with results in both camps regarding cancer risk. On one hand, it appears that soy consumption can decrease the risk of ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. On the other hand, there have been studies that may implicate soy consumption in the recurrence of breast cancer.

So you see my dilemma. I can possibly decrease my risk of further cardiovascular damage while also possibly increase my risk of a cancer recurrence, all while consuming soy.

This is what I do

I will only eat soy that is non-GMO and organic. I do not consume products that isolate the protein in soy such as textured vegetable protein (TVP). I will only eat soy in the form of edamame, miso and tofu.

I only eat it a few times per week. Because of the controversy and conflicting trial results, I hedge my bets and don’t overdue it with soy.

Because soy is considered a complete protein, rich in other nutrients, I think I can safely consume it as part of my healthy pescatarian diet that is mostly plant-based. It is heart protective and the evidence regarding breast cancer is conflicted, leaning more to the neutral side.

In any case, I refrain from eating processed foods that contain ingredients I wouldn’t use in a recipe. I recommend the same for you.

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