BACKGROUND - Soy and some of its constituents, such as isoflavones, have been shown to have cancer-inhibitory activities in experimental studies. Data from epidemiologic studies linking usual soy food intake with colorectal cancer are limited and inconsistent.
OBJECTIVE - The objective was to investigate whether soy food intake is associated with colorectal cancer risk.
DESIGN - We prospectively examined 68,412 women aged 40-70 y and free of cancer and diabetes at enrollment. Usual soy food intake was assessed at baseline (1997-2000) and reassessed during the first follow-up (2000-2002) through in-person interviews with a validated food-frequency questionnaire. We excluded the first year of observation to minimize lifestyle changes related to preclinical disease.
RESULTS - During a mean follow-up of 6.4 y, 321 incident colorectal cancer cases were identified. After adjustment for potential confounding factors, total soy food intake was inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk. Each 5-g/d increment in intake of soy foods as assessed by dry weight [equivalent to approximately 1 oz (28.35 g) tofu/d] was associated with an 8% reduction in risk (95% CI: 3%, 14%). Women in the highest tertile of intake had a multivariate relative risk of 0.67 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.90) compared with those in the lowest tertile (P for trend = 0.008). This inverse association was primarily confined to postmenopausal women. Similar results were also found for intakes of soy protein and isoflavones.
CONCLUSION - This prospective study suggests that consumption of soy foods may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.