Nutrition Before During and After Cancer

Information on nutritional needs for cancer patients

Soy Foods and Cancer


Soy foods are the only commonly consumed foods that provide significant amounts of isoflavones.

Soy Milk

Isoflavones are plant chemicals that are also called phytochemicals, have biological activity but are not nutrients. These compounds are referred to as plant estrogens or phytoestrogens. Foods that are rich in isoflavones include soy foods like tofu, soymilk, miso, and tempeh. Most of these soy foods contain about 3½ milligrams of isoflavones for every gram of protein.


For example, ½ cup of regular tofu has about 8 grams of protein and about 28 milligrams of isoflavones. Certain types of food processing reduce the amount of isoflavones in foods. Products such as soy-based meat analogs often have much lower amounts of isoflavones. Soy is also sometimes added to foods like breads, cereals, and meat products, and used as a meat substitute in vegetarian products such as soy burgers and soy hot dogs.


In Asia, women who eat the most soy have a lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who eat little soy. Evidence suggests that this is true only if they also ate soy early in life. Eating soy foods during childhood and the teen years may protect breast tissue from cancer. Beginning soy consumption later in life doesn’t appear to have any effect on risk of getting breast cancer.

However, women with breast cancer who eat soy foods are less likely to see their cancer return and are less likely to die from their cancer. The American Cancer Society states that women with breast cancer can safely consume soy foods.


Men may also benefit from eating soy foods. In Asia, men who eat the most soy have about one-half the risk of getting prostate cancer compared to men who eat little soy. For men who have prostate cancer, soy may be helpful as well. One small study found that soy isoflavones reduced some of the side effects of treatment for prostate cancer.

Human studies support the safety of both isoflavone supplements and soy foods. Isoflavones have no effect on estrogen levels in women or testosterone levels in men. Clinical studies show they also have no effect on sperm or semen.

Soyfoods have no effect on thyroid function in people with normal thyroids. However, for those who take thyroid pills, changes in soyfood intake may require changes in the amount of medicine needed. Your doctor can make these adjustments.


Improving Your Immunity

body defense

Keep the immune system strong to keep cancer at bay and for general wellbeing. There are a few things we can do in terms of Nutrition to help the immunity along, certain food combinations or stand along foods have shown promise.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E

Food Sources of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)

Table 1


  • Chicory root (called inulin) and found fortified in some foods
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Dandelion greens
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Asparagus
  • Wheat bran
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Bananas 

Vitamin B6

Food Sources of Vitamin B6

Table 2


All mushrooms appear to have health benefits, even the common white mushroom. But because different mushrooms have different strengths – some are better at boosting the immune system, while others are stronger anti-inflammatories and still others are better at improving the type and quantity of good bacteria in our intestines, I would suggest you hedge your bets and include a variety of mushrooms in your diet and not just eat the same type all the time.


Some soy products are made in traditional ways beginning with mature soy foods. These traditional products are tofu, soymilk, tempeh, and edamame (green immature soybeans). Western soy foods are often made from soy protein isolate and soy protein concentrates. I recommend organic soy products, because soy has been approved for genetic modification (GM).

Soy contains Isoflavones. Isoflavones are often referred to as phytoestrogens, or in other words, plant estrogens. There are two main types of isoflavones—daidzein and genistein. The research presented by NCI was performed using genistein, different types of soy foods have different isoflavone content. Some contain more daidzein and others, more genistein.

Genistein, one of the isoflavones in soy, has been shown to have a positive impact on the immune system. Its anti-inflammatory property is protective against cancer .

Fish oil

In order to receive the full benefit of fish oil consumption, you should be sure to consume adequate vitamin E. The amount that research has shown to be effective is 100-200 IU per day. This amount can be pretty easily consumed in the diet. 

The idea is to obtain all these thru food, consuming supplements to get these items may not be a brilliant idea especially since food works in synergy with all the elements present in a meal. So include the food items that contain these nutrient in your daily diet.