A recent study has raised concerns regarding the effects of soy on breast cancer-related genes in women diagnosed with breast cancer.
A separate study examined the risk iron intake may hold for pregnant women and their unborn children in relation to autism.
Both studies were reported in The Natural Standard.
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Soy has protein, fiber, and isoflavones – all of which are believed to offer health benefits. Isoflavones, including genistein, have estrogen-type effects on the body, and are thus sometimes known as phytoestrogens.
In a recent study, The Standard reported that researchers randomly assigned 140 women suffering from early-stage breast cancer to receive either a soy protein supplement or a placebo for seven to 30 days. Changes to genes and growth of cancer cells were reviewed during the study.
Researchers indicated that blood levels of isoflavones increased in women who were given soy. Officials said soy supplementation affected 21 breast cancer-related genes. Genes shown to increase the growth of cancer cells doubled. A number of other genes that have been shown to affect cancer cell growth also were increased.
Researchers said the findings show there may be reason for concern over the potential effects of soy in women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Officials said additional research is needed.
In another study, researchers examined whether women who take iron while pregnant may be impacting the risk of autism in their unborn children.
Autism, a brain disorder, has been associated with a number of developmental problems in children, notably in social interaction and the ability to communicate with others. While most autistic children are not diagnosed until they enter their preschool years, early signs of autism can appear for the first time between the ages of one year and 18 months. Symptom severity varies from patient to patient.
In the recent study, researchers looked at data from children taking part in the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study, conducted between 2003 and 2009.
Of the children taking part in the study, 520 were diagnosed with autism, while 346 were found to be developing normally. During interviews, mothers reported on their iron intake during their pregnancies.
Researchers said mothers of children with autism were less likely to report that they took iron supplements, and had lower average per-day iron intake, than mothers with children of normal development.
High daily iron intake was linked to a decreased autism risk in comparison to mothers with lowest amounts of iron intake. This link was found to be high during breastfeeding.
Researchers indicated that the amount of iron intake by pregnant mothers could be connected to the child’s risk of autism. Officials warned that the study suggests a potential association. It does not definitively prove that a cause-and-effect relationship exists. Officials said additional research is needed before any conclusions can be reached.