Regularly eating soy protein is not only a healthy nutritional practice, but can help prevent cancer, new research shows.
Medical experts from the University of Illinois found injection of the soy peptide lunasin dramatically reduced the spread of colon cancer in mice — a finding the researchers said has significant implications for people.
"In this new study, we find that giving lunasin orally … reduced the number of metastatic tumors by 94 percent —we went from 18 tumors to only one," said lead researcher Elvira de Mejia, a professor of food chemistry and food toxicology. "And that was done using lunasin alone; no other type of therapy was used."
The research showed the soy protein can penetrate the cancer cell, cause cell death, and halt the spread of tumors, said Vermont Dia, a postdoctoral associate in the de Mejia laboratory.
De Mejia said the findings suggest a regular diet including soy could reduce the risk of cancer development and metastasis. "These animals were acutely exposed to the peptide for only 28 days, and we still achieved these results," she said. "Consuming soy protein regularly in the diet could be important not only for nutrition but also for cancer prevention."
The researchers now plan to do follow-up research and suggest clinical trials would be needed to validate their pre-clinical findings.
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