An update on soy: It's just so-so

Soy's earlier promise as a health food has been dimmed somewhat by the results of more recent research. Early research suggested that soy protein was "heart healthy" because it could lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, but subsequent studies and judgments have dampened that enthusiasm. The results for soy protein have been so unimpressive that the American Heart Association has asked the FDA to rescind its 1999 decision that allowed food companies to label soy products as having heart disease–reducing benefits. There have also been worries that the estrogen-like chemicals in soy, called isoflavones, might promote the growth of estrogen-sensitive cells and therefore increase the chance of breast cancer recurrence.  (Locked) More »

War on cancer won't be won in the produce aisle

Results of the EPIC study show that consumption of fruits and vegetables has a much smaller effect on cancer risk than was previously believed. Ordinarily, the results from a single study wouldn't be given much weight, but in health research, there's credibility in numbers, and the size of the EPIC study matches its acronym. The main finding was that each 7-ounce increment in fruit and vegetable consumption — or about two servings' worth — lowered cancer risk by a modest 4%. It pales in comparison to earlier estimates of a 50% risk reduction from fruits and vegetables. More »

Colon cancer risk: A refresher course

Colon cancer is highly preventable, and many factors influence a person's risk. Diet and exercise, unsurprisingly, factor heavily. Dr. Robert S. Sandler, a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, published an excellent review of colon cancer prevention. Dr. Stephen Goldfinger, a founding editor of the Health Letter who remains an active member of our editorial board, brought it to our attention. We've depended on Dr. Sandler's review to create our own little refresher course on colon cancer prevention. (Locked) More »