Tofu could take on lung cancer

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 27th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Forget chemotherapy and breathing assistance: Whip up some stir-fry and break out the chopsticks. The key to helping women with lung cancer could be the simple, humble soybean. New research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that consuming large amount of soy — tofu, that is — before a diagnosis could help lung cancer sufferers live longer.

It’s the first study of its kind to find a link between lung cancer and soy consumption. The study was conducted in China, where most women are non-smokers, curiously. In the United States smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death among women in the world, and those affected only have a five-year survival rate. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2012, lung cancer will cause twice as many deaths as breast cancer.

But tofu could slow that rate. The scientists found that those who ate the most tofu every day — about four ounces — saw a better chance of surviving the dreadful disease. The benefit leveled off at about four ounces. Sixty percent of the women who ate the most soy were alive a year after their diagnosis, while only 50 percent of women who noshed on less tofu — about two ounces daily — lived.

More research is needed, but scientists think tofu makes a terrific stand against lung cancer because of compounds called isoflavones that can act like selective estrogen modulators. These modulators are similar to a drug called tamoxifen, which fights breast-cancer.

Though soy isn’t a staple in the American diet, it’s not a bad idea to up your intake. Tofu is actually the curd from the milky liquid from mature soybeans, pressed into cakes. It serves as an excellent source of vegetable protein, boasting 30 percent of its calories from protein. It also fills you up with fiber, with a dose of calcium to boot.

So try a little soy in your next stir fry for a boost of nutritious goodness.