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Ask the Expert: Should Breast Cancer Survivors Avoid Soy-Based Beauty Products?

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Q. Do breast cancer survivors need to be careful about the soy found in skin care and other beauty products?

A. Yes. There's very little research examining the use or consumption of soy in women with breast cancer. But we do know that soy contains phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that have an estrogen-like effect in the body.

Since estrogen may stimulate the growth of breast cancer—particularly the estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) form of the disease—soy products may have an effect on the remaining breast tissue. The concern is that it could activate dormant cancer cells, causing them to spread to other organs.

Based on this theory, most oncologists recommend that patients avoid estrogenic substances in any form, including soy foods and soy-based beauty products. It's tough to advise patients when there's minimal data on the topic, so experts tend to take a conservative approach to play it safe.

Kevin P. Hubbard, D.O., is a professor and chair of the department of internal medicine at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences College of Osteopathic Medicine

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Comments (5)

  • My sister is a Chemotherapy Nurse and also warned me about the effects that soy can have on raising estrogen levels naturally. Peas and estrogen treated cows can also pose this threat. I have six sisters and Breast Cancer does not run in my family- but I got ER positive breast cancer March of 2011. Thank goodness I am now cancer free, but I have to also watch red meat because most to many cattle farms implant an estrogen implant behind the cow(s) ear so that the cows mature faster and they can get them faster to slaughter. The farmer I spoke with said that the ear is cut off before they slaughter the cow and therefore the Esteogen is not in the cows system. Needless to say, I have to eat only free range animals.

  • Expert? Osteopathic Medicine?

    May stimulate the growth in humans - has not been proven.


  • Osteopathic Medicine? Expert? ABSOLUTELY! Osteopathic physicians (DO's) are fully qualified to practice medicine in all 50 states. Only MD's can make the same claim. They attend four years of medical school, 3-7 years of post-graduate residency training, and many hours of continuing medical education annually. Osteopathic physicians have a holistic (whole body) approach to practicing medicine that is reflected throughout their training. If you have never been to see a DO, you may want to consider it. They have a special touch! For more information visit the American Osteopathic Association's website at http://www.osteopathic.org

  • I worked for Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons for a while. While I lived in Missouri my oncologist was Dr. Kevin Hubbard. I found the information in the article informative and true to what I have learned in the care of my on-going remission. Thanks, Dr. Hubbard.

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    except I know I am getting knowledge everyday by reading such fastidious content.

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