New health claim for soy on the way?

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soy protein, Cancer, Colon cancer

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing a new petition
for a health claim that suggests the consumption of soy
protein-based foods may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
including breast, prostate and colon cancer. If cleared, the claim
will pave the way for a new marketing tool to drive sales forward
for soy ingredients firms as well as food manufacturers.

The new petition from recently formed soy protein supplier The Solae Company follows swiftly behind the health claim already cleared by the FDA in 1999 that suggests a diet rich in soy protein 'may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.'

"We have worked diligently for the past three years to compile existing research and review emerging data regarding the role soy protein-based foods play in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer,"​ said Dr. Lin Yan, director of cancer research for The Solae Company.

The company submitted a petition to the FDA that focuses on 58 studies supporting the relationship between the consumption of soy protein-based foods and the reduced risk of developing these types of cancer. FDA approved health claims can be used in product labeling and packaging.

" The company worked with external experts in the field and meta-analyses (statistical procedures designed to analyze associated results across independent studies) were conducted. This careful process and the weight of the scientific evidence led to the decision to file the petition with the FDA,"​ said the firm in a statement this week.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 35 per cent of cancer deaths in the US can be avoided through dietary modification.

In February this year a new study revealed that the female hormone oestrogen could potentially protect against colon cancer. The new research also found that soy protein may help reduce the number and size of tumors that do occur.

Soy protein has already been shown to have a protective effect on hormone-related cancers including breast cancer and prostate cancer. But if the link between oestrogen and colon cancer is confirmed, the study - published in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition​(134:179-182) - could further expand the benefits of the natural phytoestrogen.

Cancer of the colon or rectum is the second deadliest form of cancer after lung cancer but is also considered one of the most preventable types of cancer, as there are several dietary factors that appear to play a protective role against the disease.

"This study suggests that colon cancer may be a hormone-responsive cancer which may provide new ways to treat and or prevent this disease,"​ said Ruth MacDonald, professor of food science at the University of Missouri-Columbia in the US."In addition, we discovered that soy protein could have a very positive effect on the number and size of tumors that do occur."

Market analysts The Freedonia group predict that by 2007 US demand for soy products will rise by nearly five per cent each year to $8.5 billion.

This demand has already triggered the launch of a number of new soy ingredients onto the marketplace. ADM recently unveiled Novasoy whole bean powder and Cargill Health & Food Technologies has introduced a soy isoflavone ingredient - AdvantaSoy Compress - developed specifically for the dietary supplement industry.

In Europe, soyfood sales are soaring with consumption of soya-based drinks and desserts up by over 20 per cent in 2002, valued at €1.3 billion ($1.6mn), say authors Prosoy.

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