A new U.S. study suggests that women who ate a large amount of soy as children have a much lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life, according to media reports Wednesday.
Earlier studies have suggested links between soy intake and breast cancer risk. This finding also shows that higher soy intake has a preventive effect at any stage of life and further suggests that the strongest protective effect may be seen with childhood soy consumption.
The research involved nearly 1,600 Asian-Americans women, 600 of whom had breast cancer and the rest were healthy.
Women with regular intake in childhood -- roughly once a week or more -- were 58 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than the ones with lower intake.
Regular soy consumption in adulthood, meanwhile, was linked to a 25 percent reduction in breast cancer risk.
Still, researchers warn that although the findings are positive, it is not enough to suggest an increase in soy for children's diets. They call for more research.
"This is the first study to evaluate childhood soy intake and subsequent breast cancer risk, and this one result is not enough for a public health recommendation," said senior researcher Dr. Regina G. Ziegler, of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, "The findings need to be replicated through additional research."
(Agencies via Xinhua March 25, 2009)