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Banana Nut Bread
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Preventing Breast Cancer
In 2003, an estimated 211,300 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in the United States. Nearly 40,000 women will die from it this year alone. (Statistics from The American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2003.) As we are learning more about the disease, we also are learning about ways to treat it and prevent it. Over the past decade, science and health professionals from respected institutions have released hundreds of reports and papers examining the relationship between soy and cancer prevention.

One noted study compared the relatively low rates of breast cancer found among Asian women to the rate among women in the U.S. It determined that women in the U.S. are likely to develop breast cancer at a rate two times greater than their Asian counterparts. A look at dietary habits showed a significant difference in soy consumption and that has lead to even greater study.

Recent studies indicate a correlation between soy consumption and breast cancer prevention, however, exactly how soy protein may accomplish this is still unknown. Scientists are looking into the possibility that isoflavones-prevalent in soy-act as an obstacle to the formation of breast cancer cells. Whatever the mechanism for prevention, some sources report that as little as 25 grams of soy protein per day may be enough to have the preventative effect.


Relief From the Symptoms of Menopause
Most women in the U.S. experience some sort of discomfort-from mild to severe-during menopause. Hot flashes, mood swings, reduced sexual drive, night sweats and even excess hair growth are among the most common symptoms. Finding ways of managing or just living with these symptoms has been a challenge.

In recent years a number of studies have been conducted to understand why the severity of these symptoms or even their occurrence is less for women in Asian countries. What's been determined is that the presence of soy in a diet may dramatically reduce the discomfort.

Through ongoing studies, researchers are learning how isoflavones-classified as "phyto-estrogens" or plant-based estrogens-behave like the hormone that is lost during menopausal transition. Isoflavones, particularly genistein and daidzen, are often accepted in the body as the estrogen and in effect function as a food-based, low-level hormone replacement treatment. Some studies have indicated that between 25-50 grams of soy protein daily may be enough to significantly reduce the negative effects of menopause.


Osteoporosis
Soy may also be linked to reducing the effects and possibly preventing the deterioration of bone density. A study conducted at the University of Illinois found that post-menopausal women who frequently consumed soy protein had stronger bones. Ongoing studies show promising results in eating soy as a way to prevent bone loss. Researchers are investigating the idea that soy may cause calcium to be better utilized, helping to ward off osteoporosis.

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