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Nutritionists say soy consumption beneficial as part of balanced diet.

The consensus opinion on consuming soybeans is that like most other foods, it is good eaten in moderation as part of a balanced, low-fat diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. However, with about 30 to 40 studies published on soy every month, it is possible to find a study to back almost every position on the food, according to a report in the Washington Times.

One recent study looked at 18 epidemiologic studies on soy exposure and breast cancer risk, finding that soy consumption is helpful for preventing breast cancer. "The gray area is when women have had estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer," said Jennifer Reilly, senior nutritionist for the Cancer Project, a nonprofit organization. "Since it's a gray area, we're not sure how much soy is safe for that person. Although a lot of researchers say it's probably still fine to have two to three servings a day, other researchers say since it's a gray area that you might as well do without it." Another area of debate has been how soy affects thyroid function, Reilly says. It has been thought that goitrogens, natural chemicals in soy, interfere with iodine absorption in the thyroid.

Soy should be included in a healthy diet, says Cynthia Clark, oncology nutrition specialist at Washington Cancer Institute at the Washington Hospital Center. Only those people who eat an excessive amount of soy--several servings a day, every day--should cut back, Clark says. Further, research on these topics is inconclusive, she adds. "I don't think there is any reason to be scared and cut all soy out of your life," Clark says. "Soy in general provides protein, calcium, soluble and insoluble fiber to regulate bowel movements, and polyunsaturated fats."
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Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Date:May 15, 2006
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