A new study by the National Institutes of Health has discovered a pill containing a chemical found in soy beans that might help slow the spread of prostate-cancer cells. An antioxidant called genistein, which is found in soy products, stopped the spread of cancer in mice. The study, whose findings were being presented in Philadelphia at the American Association for Cancer Research's "Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research" conference, could lead to a new drug that would slow the spread of the disease in 5 to 10 years.
Ironically, in previous studies, Japanese men, who usually eat more soy products, have lower rates of prostate cancer. However, in this study, men who took a daily pill that contained genistein once a day, a month before surgery, produced a significantly less amount of the enzyme that contributes to cancer growth.
This soy pill contains "two to eight times" the amount of genistein that a person would normally get from eating soy products. The next phase will assess if the pill actually prevents cancer cells from spreading beyond the prostate. If confirmed, this discovery would be the first non-toxic therapy for any cancer that targets and inhibits cancer cell spread. Previous prostate cancer therapies designed to stop cancer cell growth that had been tested in humans had failed basically because they were toxic or ineffective. It could also signify a new approach for other types of cancer.
On an unrelated but helpful note, soy consumption can also prevent men from going bald. Researchers discovered a molecule, equol, produced in the intestine when soy is digested which stops a hormone that can cause baldness. The molecule essentially "handcuffs" the male hormone DHT, a byproduct of testosterone. While equol does not prevent DHT from being produced, it does stop it from functioning.
This discovery not only impacts men who have been diagnosed with either benign prostatic hyperplasia, or cancer of the prostate, but it's historically been linked to the cause of male pattern baldness. Blocking the behavior of the male hormone DHT has been the pursuit of the pharmaceutical industry as a way of treating prostate cancer and other related diseases for years. And this simple soy molecule has accomplished it "very effectively."
David B. Samadi, MD is the Vice Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgeryat Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. As a board-certified urologist and an oncologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urologic diseases, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and prostate cancer, he also specializes in many advanced minimally invasive treatments for prostate cancer, including laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and laparoscopic robotic radical prostatectomy. His Web site, Robotic Oncology, has been translated into six different languages and is one of the most popular urology sites on the Internet.