Nutritional Immunology

Soy and Breast Cancer

I came across this article and would to share it for the myth of avoiding soy is still many people’s concern, especially when comes to female cancers..


Are soy foods safe for breast cancer survivors, including women who were treated for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer?


Summary: The current consensus among health experts who study soy is that breast cancer survivors can safely eat these foods. Emerging research suggests that soy foods may decrease the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence in women with a history of the disease.

Most health experts agree that the evidence is not strong enough to recommend that all women with a history of breast cancer eat more soy. However, soy foods do appear to be safe, and possibly beneficial for female breast cancer survivors.

Soy Confusion

Confusion about soy arises from the term “phytoestrogens.” Some soy nutrients—the isoflavones—have chemical structures that look a bit like the estrogen found in a woman’s body. This is where the term phytoestrogen originated. However, phytoestrogens are not the same thing as female estrogens. Soy foods do not contain estrogen.

Recent Evidence

Several large, human studies—in which thousands of women have been followed for many years—consistently show that compared with women who do not eat soy, women who regularly eat soy have lower breast cancer risk. Some of these studies also suggest that breast cancer survivors who consume soy foods have a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence compared with survivors who avoid soy.

These studies have been conducted in both Asian and US populations. This is important because soy has long been a part of many Asian cuisines, but it is a relatively new introduction to the American diet.

These studies are observational. This means researchers collect diet information from women, then follow them for many years to see who gets breast cancer. In an observational study, it is always possible that the true connection with better breast health is not soy, but something else that is related to eating soy.

For example, women who eat soy foods also may eat less fried food and more vegetables. They may exercise more and maintain a healthier body weight. Any one of these other things could be the reason why soy-eating women have lower breast cancer risk.

This means observational studies can’t conclusively prove that soy protects against breast cancer. However, these studies are reassuring in affirming that soy foods do not increase breast cancer risk. They point toward a protective effect of soy on breast health, regardless of other lifestyle and diet choices.

Food First

Soy foods are a healthy option, while soy dietary supplements may not be. The research on soy and breast health has looked at soy foods, not dietary supplements. If you require extra calories during cancer treatment from a medical food supplement, the soy protein in this type of product is not a problem. However, soy pills and isoflavone-enriched powders should be avoided.

If you’re a woman concerned about breast health and you like soy, stick to healthy, whole soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and edamame. The occasional soy protein bar or snack food is fine, but as with all plant foods, less processed is better.

Stop Soy Fear

In the end, feel confident in whatever choice you make about soy foods. Eat these foods if you enjoy them, or skip them altogether if soy isn’t to your liking.

source: OncologyNutrition

Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above for blood vessel health

New research has shown some of our least favourite vegetables could be the most beneficial when it comes to preventing advanced blood vessel disease.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition the research has found higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, is associated with less extensive blood vessel disease in older women.

Using data from a cohort of 684 older Western Australian women recruited in 1998, researchers from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences and The University of Western Australia found those with a diet comprising more cruciferous vegetables had a lower chance of having extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta, a key marker for structural blood vessel disease.

Blood vessel disease is a condition that affects our blood vessels (arteries and veins) and can reduce the flow of blood circulating around the body. This reduction in blood flow can be due to the build-up of fatty, calcium deposits on the inner walls of our blood vessels, such as the aorta. This build-up of fatty, calcium deposits is the leading cause of having a heart attack or stroke.

Broccoli and Brussels sprouts a cut above

Lead researcher Dr Lauren Blekkenhorst said there was something intriguing about cruciferous vegetables which this study has shed more light on.

“In our previous studies, we identified those with a higher intake of these vegetables had a reduced risk of having a clinical cardiovascular disease event, such as a heart attack or stroke, but we weren’t sure why,” she said.

“Our findings from this new study provides insight into the potential mechanisms involved.”

“We have now found that older women consuming higher amounts of cruciferous vegetables every day have lower odds of having extensive calcification on their aorta,” she said.

“One particular constituent found abundantly in cruciferous vegetables is vitamin K which may be involved in inhibiting the calcification process that occurs in our blood vessels.”

Eat an extra serve of greens every day

Dr Blekkenhorst said women in this study who consumed more than 45g of cruciferous vegetables every day (e.g. ¼ cup of steamed broccoli or ½ cup of raw cabbage) were 46 percent less likely to have extensive build-up of calcium on their aorta in comparison to those consuming little to no cruciferous vegetables every day.

“That’s not to say the only vegetables we should be eating are broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. We should be eating a wide variety of vegetables every day for overall good health and wellbeing.”

Dr Blekkenhorst said it was important to note the study team were very grateful to these Western Australian women, without whom these important findings would not be available for others. While observational in nature this study design is central to progressing human health.

Research welcomed by the Heart Foundation

Heart Foundation Manager, Food and Nutrition, Beth Meertens said the findings were promising and the Heart Foundation would like to see more research in this area.

“This study provides valuable insights into how this group of vegetables might contribute to the health of our arteries and ultimately our heart,” Ms Meertens said.

“Heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia and poor diet is responsible for the largest proportion of the burden of heart disease, accounting for 65.5 percent of the total burden of heart disease.

“The Heart Foundation recommends that Australians try to include at least five serves of vegetables in their daily diets, along with fruit, seafood, lean meats, dairy and healthy oils found in nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, over 90 percent of Australian adults don’t eat this recommended daily intake of vegetables.”

Dr Blekkenhorst and senior author, Associate Professor Joshua Lewis, are both supported in their positions at Edith Cowan University by the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

The team also included researchers from Flinders University, University of Sydney, University of Minnesota, and the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

‘Cruciferous vegetable intake is inversely associated with extensive abdominal aortic calcification in elderly women: a cross-sectional study’ is available on the British Journal of Nutrition website.


*source: Australia ECU

Eating Your Greens May Help You Build Muscle Strength

* A new The Journal of Nutrition study has found that regularly eating leafy greens can boost muscle function, which in turn could help prevent falls and fractures.

* The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, which can open up the blood vessels, improving blood flow and exercise performance.

* In the study, participants who ate the most nitrates — which are plentiful in leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce — had 11 percent stronger lower limb strength.
Eating leafy greens can do wonders for muscle strength, according to new research from Edith Cowan University.

The study, which published in the Journal of Nutrition on March 24, found that regularly eating nitrate-rich leafy greens, like spinach and kale, can boost muscle function, which in turn may help prevent falls and fractures.

The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, which can open up the blood vessels, improving blood flow and exercise performance.

Over time, a vegetable-rich diet can improve heart health and cognitive health.

“In general, leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-rich, calorie-light foods on the planet — packing a punch with numerous vitamins and minerals,” said Dr. Casey Kelley, a family medicine physician and the founder and medical director of Case Integrative Health.

Leafy greens boost muscle strength and walking speeds

The researchers evaluated health data from 3,759 Australians over a 12-year period.

Participants who ate the most nitrates — which are plentiful in leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce — had 11 percent stronger lower limb strength.

Their walking speed was approximately 4 percent faster compared with participants who ate less leafy greens.

The researchers also surveyed the participants’ physical activity. They found that the vegetables boosted muscle strength regardless of whether the participants exercised.

How do veggies improve muscle strength?

Leafy greens are packed with nitrates, which the body converts into nitric oxide.

“Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels and causes them to widen. This allows for greater delivery of oxygen to the muscles,” said Dr. Niket Sonpal, an internist and gastroenterologist based in New York City.

Our muscles require more oxygen when we exercise. Sonpal said that oxygen is essential “for creating fuel while working out and is also important for muscle recovery.”

Increased oxygen flow could allow our muscles to perform more optimallyTrusted Source, which may ultimately help increase muscle strength.

How it impacts your overall health 

Muscle strength is a critical component of overall health. It helps with everyday tasks like lifting heavy objects, walking, and even getting out of bed.

“Muscle maintenance ensures that your entire system is functioning correctly and efficiently. After all, the human is one complete system, not disparate parts operating independently,” Kelley said.

Muscle strength is also crucial for joint and bone health as it helps prevent pain and injuries.

Lean muscle may facilitate weight loss and weight management. The process in which you achieve muscle strength — diet and exercise — could potentially boostTrusted Source cognitive health, said Kelley.

The new findings from Edith Cowan University build off previous evidence that links vegetables to heart health (will put up in next post).

Nitric oxide can potentially help lowerTrusted Source blood pressure. StudiesTrusted Source have found that a vegetable-rich diet, along with other interventions, may be one way of treating cardiovascular disease.

Health Benefits of Cactus

When it comes to nutritious plant foods, cactus is top of my favourites. In traditional Chinese medicine, cactus is considered to be “cold” in nature, and can promote the flow of qi and blood circulation. It is used to help reduce swelling and relieve pain with its cooling and detoxifying properties. It is believed to be able to strengthen the spleen and stop diarrhoea. Due to its many benefits, it is used both internally and externally for many diseases.

The Health Benefits of Cactus

Modern research lends support to the many beneficial uses o cactus. A cactus may try to keep us away with its spines, but we will want to get close and benefit from the phytochemicals and polysaccharides contained within a cactus.

Cactus contains a wide variety of phytochemicals, and these give great benefits to health. Phytochemicals are a type of phytonutrient that help plants defend against damage from ultraviolet light, pests, and the environment. More than 5,000 phytochemicals have been identified, but only about 150 have been studied in depth. For humans, phytochemicals can help prevent steps leading to the development of cancer. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research states that phytochemicals have the potential to:

  • Block some of the actions of carcinogens
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Prevent DNA damage and enhance DNA repair
  • Slow growth rate of cancer cells
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce oxidative damage
  • Help regulate hormones

Phytochemicals are plentiful inside cactus. Multiple studies and research have shown that phytochemicals inside cactus can do much good for our bodies, such as inhibiting cancer cell growth, suppressing tumour growth, and increasing the number of cells undergoing self-destruction as a protection against abnormalities. The phytochemicals in cactus have some anti diabetic activity through hypoglycaemic activity, as well as the potential to lower blood glucose levels.

Studies have shown that cactus also contains many antioxidants, as well as possessing many other healthful properties. Cactus demonstrates some antiviral properties through the inhibition and replication of several viruses; it can even inhabit the action of viruses that have yet to invade a cell. Substances in cactus can help lower cholesterol levels and potentially modify the composition of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, commonly called “bad” cholesterol).

Some flavonoids in cactus may be potent neuroprotectors while other components of cactus have potent anti-inflammatory actions.

I’m a fan of cactus-based products, using them as nutrition supplements and skin care. I’ve been taking cactus nutrition drink from E.Excel International for the last 19 years and I strongly encourage others to use cactus for their well being too. You may want to explore the product I’m using here….

Cheers to good health!

Almonds boost the elimination of bad cholesterol

Researchers at at Pennsylvania State University recently confirmed the anti-cholesterol benefits of almonds. Regular intake of a handful of almonds increased levels of mature HDL or “good cholesterol” particles, which are associated with cardiovascular health, by 19 percent.

According to a study published on Friday, August 11 in the Journal of Nutrition, almonds may not only increase blood levels of HDL (good cholesterol), but also boost the transport of bad blood cholesterol to the liver.

Previous studies have already shown that the small oleaginous fruit — which is not a true nut — has the capacity to reduce blood levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), which is associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

Over a period of six weeks, researchers at Pennsylvania State University monitored two groups of patients with high levels of bad cholesterol. The first group of patients consumed 43 grams of almonds per day, the equivalent of a generous handful, whereas the members of the second group were given a banana muffin.

At the end of the end of each study period, the researchers measured the levels and functioning of HDL cholesterol in each participant, and compared these results with blood counts established at the outset of the experiment.

“HDL is very small when it gets released into circulation,” study author Dr Kris-Etherton said. “It’s like a garbage bag that slowly gets bigger and more spherical as it gathers cholesterol from cells and tissues before depositing them in the liver to be broken down.” On this journey, HDL particles grow bigger until they become mature.

The study highlighted a 19 percent increase in mature HDL particles in members of the group taking almonds. At the same time, participants whose weight was within normal ranges found their bodies’ ability to transport excess cholesterol to the liver improved by 6.4 percent.

Rich in magnesium (anti-spasmodic) and potassium (anti-fluid retention), almonds are a healthy and filling snack rich in fiber and protein. A handful of ten almonds has approximately 100 calories.

The results of this study have been published in the Journal of Nutrition.

What you eat affects your Immune System

Learn what it means when we say ‘balance diet’ for our health by world renown scientist, Nutritional Immunologist Dr Jau Fei Chen..

8:29 mins

Liver Cancer

The liver is one of the major organs responsible for removing toxins from the human body. Liver Cancer is common in Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. In Singapore, it is the fourth most common cancer among men. In its early stages, most patients may not experience any specific symptoms.

Warning signs:

  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal swelling or pain
  • lump in the abdomen
  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of eyes (jaundice)

Who are at risk?

  • Chronic carriers of Hepatitis B virus and Hepatitis C virus
  • Those with liver cirrhosis
  • Diabetics
  • Family history of liver cancer
  • Bile duct disease call primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Alcohol abuse can lead to liver cirrhosis and hence increases the risk of liver cancer

What can you do?

  • Ultrasound scan every 6 months
  • Blood test (alphafeto protein) every 6 months
  • Get vaccinated with Hepatitis B vaccine to reduce risk of infection
  • Prevent Hepatitis C by not engaging in unprotected sex, avoid body piercing and tattooing,  not abusing drugs or share intravenous drug needles
  • Limit alcohol intake to less than one drink a day or avoid completely

Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

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    Lung Cancer

    Lung Cancer happens when the cells lining the airways grow and divide uncontrollably, leading to the formation of an abnormal mass. It is a cancer that can develop over months to years and patients may not see the warning signs until much later. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in males and third most common cancer in females in Singapore.

    Warning signs:

    • Persistent cough
    • Coughing up blood
    • Recurring chest infection
    • Hoarseness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • New onset of wheezing
    • Fever without known reason

    Who are at risk?

    • Smokers
    • Exposure to second hand smoke
    • Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals such as arsenic, chromium, nickel, etc..

    What can you do?

    • Maintain a diet high in fruits and vegetables
    • Avoid alcoholic drinks
    • Exercise regularly

    Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

      Related Posts:

      Cancer and You
      Colorectal Cancer
      Breast Cancer
      Cervical Cancer
      Liver Cancer
      Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant Base Diet

      Cervical Cancer

      Cervical Cancer is cancer of the neck of the womb which is called the cervix and is one of the most common cancers that affect a woman’s reproductive organs. The incidence of cervical cancer has reduced considerably in the last few years due to screening with PAP smears.

      Warning signs:

      • Vaginal bleeding following intercourse of in-between menstrual period or after menopause
      • Watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and has a foul smell
      • Lower abdominal pain or pain during intercourse

      Who are at risk?

      • Early sexual activity
      • Multiple sex partners
      • Human Papilloma Virus (wart) infection
      • Immunosuppressed women

      What can you do?

      • Healthy lifestyle to strengthen own immune system
      • Have regular pap smear once sexually active (age 25 and above)
      • Undergo HPV DNA test to determine if you are infected with any of the 13 types of HPV that are most likely to lead to cervical cancer
      • Using condoms during intercourse reduces the risk of contracting HPV
      • Have fewer sex partners
      • Avoid smoking
      • Vaccination for girls before they become sexually active

      Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

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        Cancer and You
        Colorectal Cancer
        Breast Cancer
        Lung Cancer
        Liver Cancer
        Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant Base Diet

        Breast Cancer

        Breast Cancer is a leading cause of death among women internationally. Its incidence in Asia is rapidly rising with Singapore having one of the highest incidences. It is well established that early detection and early treatment lead to improved survival.

        Warning signs:

        • Lumps in the breast
        • Bloody or unusual nipple discharge
        • Recent history of nipple retraction
        • Dimpling or puckering of skin overlying the breast
        • Itchy rash of the nipple
        • Breast pain

        Who are at risk?

        • Risk increases with age
        • Family history of breast cancer
        • Family history of ovarian cancer
        • Early onset of menstruation and late menopause
        • Those on hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
        • Those on birth control pills
        • Alcohol abuse

        What can you do?

        • Breast self-examination (monthly)
        • Screening mammograms (age 40 and above)
        • Limit alcohol intake to less than one drink a day or avoid completely
        • Maintain a healthy weight
        • Avoid ling-term hormone therapy
        • A balanced diet with plenty phytochemicals, antioxidants and polysaccharides

        Source of information: National University Cancer Institute, Singapore

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          Cancer and You
          Colorectal Cancer
          Cervical Cancer
          Lung Cancer
          Liver Cancer
          Reducing the Risk of Prostate Cancer through a Plant Base Diet

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