“We looked at men who ate a lot of soy beans, beans, linseeds and berries, and the men who ate a lot of these things were less at risk of getting prostate cancer,” researcher Maria Hedelin at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm told AFP.
Her research team has over the past two years questioned 1,499 men diagnosed with prostate cancer about, among other things, their eating habits, and compared their answers to a poll of 1,130 healthy Swedish men.
Their conclusion, published in the medical review Cancer Causes and Control on Tuesday, was that men who ate foods high in so-called phytoestrogens, or chemical compounds that act like estrogen in the body, are 26 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.
“The theory is that these phytoestrogens can protect against prostate cancer through their hormonal effect, through slowing the male hormones that appear to entail a risk of prostate cancer. They offer a better hormonal balance,” Hedelin said.
The questionnaires also included elements about the men’s physical activity, their vitamin consumption and genetic factors, which will be addressed in a later stage of the study.
Another group of Swedish researchers, also at the Karolinska Institute, have meanwhile showed that phytoestrogens also protect against colon cancer, Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported.
In the study, published this week in US scientific review PNAS, researchers found that mice genetically modified to lack the ability to properly absorb estrogen were more likely to suffer from colon cancer.
“This finding indicates that estrogen absorbed through (an estrogen receptor) has a clear cancer preventing effect in the colon,” Svenska Dagbladet wrote, adding that consuming food high on phytoestrogens appears to help block the development of colon cancer.