Soy Offers Hope In Treatment Resistant Prostate Cancer

Soy offers hope in treatment-resistant prostate cancer

Soy offers hope in treatment-resistant prostate cancer

Friday, December 16, 2011. The results of a pilot study published in the November, 2011 issue of the Southern Medical Journal suggest a benefit for soy in men whose prostate cancer failed to respond to radiation or surgery.

The success of prostate cancer therapy is evaluated by measuring a protein known as serum prostate specific antigen (PSA). A rise in PSA following radiation or surgery for prostate cancer indicates treatment failure. An option for these patients is androgen deprivation therapy which reduces testosterone (a hormone that may increase the growth of prostate cancer); however, the treatment has significant side effects and is not effective for all who use it.

Monika Joshi, MD and her colleagues at Pennsylvania State University enrolled ten men with treatment-resistant prostate cancer that had not metastasized, and assigned them to three servings of soy per day for two years, during which PSA levels were monitored. After 24 months, half of the men showed a response to soy with temporary or permanently declining PSA levels or stable PSA levels. Of three subjects who were being treated with androgen deprivation therapy and continued to have rising PSA levels, one responded to soy, while four of the remaining seven showed favorable responses. The researchers remark that soy may reduce PSA via a reduction in the expression of the androgen receptor and other mechanisms.

"Our findings are fairly congruent with what has been described in the literature on the use of this modality in prostate cancer," the authors write. "We also show that soy can provide benefit in castration-resistant prostate cancer. Our clinical experience suggests that soy supplementation using commercially available soy products can have durable beneficial effects on PSA levels and PSA kinetics in some men with prostate cancer."

"The results from Pennsylvania State University appear consistent with a considerable amount of published research showing that soy may help to prevent prostate cancer and may be useful in its treatment," noted oncologist Omer Kucuk, MD, who is Georgia Cancer Coalition's distinguished cancer scholar and chief of genitourinary medical oncology at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute. "For men unresponsive to surgery and radiation for prostate cancer, it is critically important to find androgen deprivation therapy alternatives, such as soy as a dietary intervention. While this study is small, it's important because it takes place in real-life conditions in a clinical setting."

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Soy peptide aids in blocking metastasis

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An article published online on September 10, 2011 in the journal Cancer Letters describes the discovery of Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia and Vermont P. Dia of the University of Illinois in Urbana of a benefit for lunasin, a peptide that occurs in soy, in preventing the spread of colon cancer to the liver, the predominant site of metastasis for this type of cancer. "When lunasin was used in combination with the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin, we saw a sixfold reduction in the number of new tumor sites," revealed Dr de Mejia, who is an associate professor of food chemistry and food toxicology at UI.

The current study utilized mice bred to develop colon cancer that metastasizes to the liver. The researchers divided the animals to receive daily injections of lunasin, lunasin plus the chemotherapy drug oxaliplatin, oxaliplatin alone or neither compound. "The group that received lunasin alone had 50 percent fewer metastatic sites," reported Dr de Mejia. "But an even more exciting result was seen in the group that received both lunasin and the chemotherapy drug—only 5 new cancer sites when compared with 28 in the control group."

"This huge reduction in metastasis was achieved with the amount of lunasin in only 25 daily grams of soy protein, the amount recommended in the FDA health claim," noted Dr Dia, who is a University of Illinois postdoctoral fellow. "In this study, we have learned that lunasin can penetrate the cancer cell, cause cell death, and interact with at least one type of receptor in a cell that is ready to metastasize."

"Two glasses of soy milk a day generally provide half the amount of lunasin used in our study," Dr de Mejia remarked. "It certainly seems feasible to create a lunasin-enriched product that people could consume in a preventive way."

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