Anna Wu talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Fast Moving Front in the field of Agricultural
Article: Adolescent and adult soy intake and risk
of breast cancer in Asian-Americans
AH;Wan, P;Hankin, J;Tseng, CC;Yu, MC;Pike, MC
Journal: CARCINOGENESIS, 23 (9): 1491-1496 SEP 2002
Addresses: Univ So Calif, Keck Sch Med, Dept Prevent Med,
Los Angeles, CA 90089 USA.
Univ So Calif, Keck Sch Med, Dept Prevent Med, Los Angeles,
CA 90089 USA.
Univ Hawaii, J Hankin Canc Res Ctr, Honolulu, HI 96822 USA.
Why do you think your paper is highly
Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in US women and a leading cause of
cancer incidence in women worldwide. Thus, identification of
lifestyle-related risk or protective factors that are modifiable is of
immense public health significance.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
Our paper describes a new discovery. Specifically, our study presents one
of the first sets of human data in support of soy intake as a
chemopreventive food for breast cancer. In addition, our results suggest
that timing of soy intake may be important.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman’s terms?
"Our ultimate goal is to
definitively elucidate the possible causal role of
soy intake in breast cancer protection and
US women are at high risk for breast cancer. Our study suggests that
inclusion of soy food products in the diet, especially if begun in early
life, may meaningfully reduce the woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer.
How did you become involved in this research and
were there any particular problems encountered along the way?
Breast cancer incidence rates in Asia are historically one-sixth of the
rates in US whites. However, as Asians migrate to the US, our breast cancer
rates increase steadily and they now approach the rates in US whites. My
research interest is to understand the underlying reasons for the
historically low incidence in Asia and the increasing rates with migration
to the West.
In particular, I have been interested in the role of diet in cancer
causation since the beginning of my cancer epidemiologic research career.
My Asian heritage (and therefore, familiarity with its cultures and diet)
puts me in an especially advantageous position in examining possible
protective factors in the Asian diet that may have contributed to the lower
rates of breast cancer among Asian women.
Where do you see your research leading in the
Our ultimate goal is to definitively elucidate the possible causal role of
soy intake in breast cancer protection and survival.
Do you foresee any social or political
implications for your research?
As stated above, there are immense public health implications to our
research finding. To the extent that social and political events impact on
public health, I would agree that our research has social and political
Keywords: soy intake, breast cancer, Asian diet, Asian women,
chemopreventive food, soy food products.