Can anyone help. I have been drinking soya milk and have believed this has been a good thing, however I have recently heard that soya is not good for cancers which are ER+? (mine is)

Does anyone know anything about this. I am trying to change my diet but read so many different things about, soya, red meat, milk etc that I am confused. Can anyone give any advise or recommend a good book that may be able to help me.

Thank you

Fay :o)

Hi Fay

Whilst you are waiting for replies you can find lots of other threads on this subject by typing ‘soya’ into the ‘Search’ tab at the top of this page.

Hope this is useful to you

Breast Cancer Care

Hi Fay, I’ve read so much conflicting info on Soya and I’m still confused. (I drink organic cow’s milk.)
I try and eat organic as much as possible…I have 2 spoons of Manuka 10+ honey a day, have done this for years now…at time of typing this (husband has bad cold!) my immune system seems pretty good and colds seem to pass me by. I also eat plenty of tomatoes and bananas, portions every day, read (somewhere) they are beneficial and I think bananas are especially good if, like me, you have bone mets. Oh and I drink plenty of water too as I’m on bisphosphonates.
What sorts of foods are you eating at the moment? Belinda…x

Hi Fay,

How are you? Well I hope!

It is best to do a search on this topic, as the moderator suggests, otherwise heated debate has been known to occur! For myself, I asked my onc shortly after diagnosis about soya (having filled the kitchen with all manner of strange soya products - and am long-term veggie) and he told me to steer clear. So I chucked them all out and try and avoid most soya products now. I too try and buy mainly organic and eat a balanced diet.

I have no idea whether it will do any good or not (probably not) but am currently indulging in Choxti (or whatever it is called) choccy which is supposedly overflowing with antioxidants which are said to boost immune system. I never did like bananas :wink:



I’m not sure that ANYONE seems to know the answer to this one. It’s widely reported that women in China have a much lower incidence of breast cancer than those in the west largely thought to be as a result of diet. There seems to be 2 major factors: milk & soya consumption. Milk (cows) contains IGF-1 (a growth hormone for cancer) and is not largely consumed in China but is in the west, & soya is rich in phytoestrogen which apparently help to block oestrogen receptors - good for ER+ cancers.

But like you say other sources say to avoid soya etc, surely someone somewhere must know about this - any nutritionist come oncologists out there…???


I asked a nutritionist because I was so confused and was told that she didn’t know either as there is research that proves either way!

I have been told to cut down on dairy so I use mostly rice milk. I try to avoid soya but as I am veggie there is probably some in some of the veggie alternatives I eat, but as I don’t eat much ready made processed food, I don’t worry too much.


Personally I have been advised to steer clear of any products containing soya incl any supplements as my CA was highly oestrogen + and I had a recurrence. After first dx , and to combat the Tamoxifen side effects, I had loads of soya products incl. yoghurt, milk and supplements (isaflavanoides, black cohosh etc.), but obviously no-one would know whether this might have accelarated the recurrence. But my oncologist things with this type of cancer it is best to avoid anything that has extra oestrogen, be it plant or otherwise.

I know the debate will go on and on , but in the meantime I try and have a low fat healthy diet, not too much dairy and processed food and avoid any soya products.

Hello again,

Confusing isn’t it? I really am not sure what to do for the best. Avoid it or don’t avoid it? mmmmm.

I think the general opinion is to avoid it if you are ER+ (do you all agree).

To to those of you that avoid soya and diary what margarine do you use (if any) and for those of you who avoid just soya do you have organic spread and milk? And does anyone know if cows milk is then better than soya for ER+.

I think more investigation is needed on my part.

Thank you

Fay :o)

Hi all

Breast Cancer Care have published a factsheet called ‘Diet and breast cancer’ which may be of interest to you as it contains some information about soya in your diet, you can read or download it via the following link:

Best wishes

Breast Cancer Care

Hi fayjay

Here’s the link to the Tamoxifen factsheet you requested:

We have lots of free publications which you can read online or order via the website, just follow these steps and you will be able to download them:

Click on the ‘Support for you’ tab at the top of this page-
then click ‘Information’ tab-
then click on ‘Publications’ and this will give you a list of subjects some of which you may be interested in finding out more about, click on a topic and this will take you to the relevant info.

Hope this is useful.

Best wishes
Breast Cancer Care

This is absolutely crazy.

The general concensus seems to be that diet plays a part in incidence of breast cancer but no-one can specify which aspects of diet.
I have read the factsheet above & it just confirms that no-one has a clue!

Strange how we can put a man on the moon but can’t decide if soya is good or bad for breast cancer. What a crazy old world!


Hi everyone,

I have just been diagnosed with bone secondaries three and a half years on from initial diagnosis. I have been a vegetarian since I was 14 and have not consumed much dairy produce in the twenty five years since. When I was initially diagnosed in 2004 I read Jane Plant’s book and felt somewhat pleased with myself on some level that I had had this soya rich vegetarian diet for many years and when I say soya rich I mean 1 pint a day as part of my breakfast smoothie for years and years and years.

I am ER+ and only recently have become aware of the argument against soya and I have stopped drinking it and one of the ladies on the secondary forums suggested rice milk which I have just bought and also I have tried oat milk which is reasonably ok. I am hoping when smoothed up with bananas (love them!) and other fruit that I will not really taste the rice or oat milk!

No one seems able to give a definitive answer so I am doing what I feel is best for me and my health as I perceive it. It is quite scary to think that by consuming something I thought was beneficial to my health may now be detremental. I can’t turn back the clock but can make the best choices I can with the information available. If the first line of defence from my oncolgy team is to induce a menopause to starve the tumours of oestregen I figure I should be doing the same with my diet. It is a complex issue and I am no expert by any means and maybe drinking soya milk is monumental or irrelevant. I’m not saying everyone should do the same but feel that this is the way forward for me. And I love discussing it and hearing other people’s views.

I agree with mammabee that it is a crazy old world that can’t figure this Is Soya Good or Bad issue.

Angee xxx

I’m a foodie and take a pretty relaxed attitude to anything about this or that food and cancer. Evidence on soya is complex but I really don’t think that once you’ve got secondaries there’s much that eating anything will do to help or hinder cancer’s progression.

I eat food which helps me to feel good…and that’s food which includes my 5 a day fruit and veg. and quite a lot of fish and organic chicken, but I also indulge on cheese, chocolate brownies, and brie and bacon paninis and a cappucicino (sometims with soy, sometimes with dairy)a day. Not keen on turkey twizzlers or chicken nuggets…but othewise enjoy…food is a life pleasure you certainly can’t take with you. There is so much moralising around diet in the affluent west at the moment…I think such moralising whether in a cancer context or not actually encourages guilt tripping, binge eating and unhealthy eating habits.


I really hope not to add to anyone’s confusion & information overload - but here is my 2p…

I would try to avoid soy if you are ER+

It is confusing because in general nutritionists looking at cancer will recommend it as a great substitute for milk

  • which professionals argue is no good for cancer: “Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the
    gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soya milk cancer cells are being starved.” - John Hopkins Hospital, USA

However soybeans contain hormone-like substances called phytoestrogens that mimic the action of the hormone oestrogen. Treatment for ER+ breast cancer is about reducing exposure to oestrogen so surely avoiding oestrogenic foods could be a helpful step.

ok that’s it from me! x

I find the soya/ oestrogen debate quite interesting. When I was diagnosed my surgeon told me he expected my tumour to be her -ve and er +. As I am post menopausal this kind of threw me - so I asked the question “being post menopausal there surely is a distinct lack of oestrogen floating around my system, so where is the cancer getting it from?” - his answer was that the cancer cells actually produce their own oestrogen. I consider this very sneaky and devious of them btw. As an added thing, I have a dairy free diet - apart from the very occasional cream cake (makes me quite ill as i am lactose intolerant) and I don’t use soya products. So my intake of any form of oestrogen is minimal.

Just my take on it

Oestrogen is also produced by the adrenal glands and other fatty tissues in your body therefore production is not completely halted by menopause.


Very true Jenny, but it is significantly reduced - and to me it seemed very odd that, at a time when the oestrogen would be at it’s lowest, I should develop a cancer that requires oestrogen to grow. A bit like all the birds suddenly nesting in winter when there’s a shortage food for the chicks.

new to forum… what is er+ please? I have never realy bothered about specific diet and of course love al the things not good for you… I have lung secoderies for the past 8 years so must be doing somrthing right…I hpoe. thans for all the info…Jewel

I think the cancers find a way of surviving with or without oestrogen, otherwise we would probably all have a good response to aromatase inhibitors and hormone treatments and for me at least, they do nothing. Likewise they wise up to chemos and these then stop being effective. Don’t quote me on this, but this is how I am led to believe it goes. It is indeed a sneaky beast.


Hi Jewal,
Er+ means that your cancer is Oestrogen positive. If you are Er+ then hormone therapy may help in your treatment.
I like you have never bothered about a specific diet and am a vegetarian and my cancer is Er+. I continue to eat small amounts of tofu/soya products as I feel as with everything moderation is the key. Until they come up with conclusive evidence that soya is harmful I will continue. Women in Asia eat huge amounts of tofu and their incidence of Breast cancer is far lower than here and is only rising now probably due to Western influences.