Soy, soya milk and cows' dairy

Soy, soya milk and cows' dairy

Revised and updated 2016

Its only natural

The WHITE stuff

There is much debate about the benefits of soy or soya and its milk. GenesteSoya, in, a bioactive ingredient has been shown to prevent breast cancer and prostate cancer, and cause cancer cell death. But it may also interfere with drugs like aromatase inhibitors. 

Soy and soy beans

The cultivation of soy or soya in the East can be traced back to the Chou Dynasty in China, which began in 1136BC although it does not seem to have been used as a food substance until people had begun to ferment it some 400 years later. The soya bean is derived from the soya plant and various soya foods have been a staple diet in the Far East since this time. However, they have only been consumed in the West since the sixties.

The soya bean is the only vegetable source of complete protein; low in fat and devoid of cholesterol and as such is much praised. Soya contains substances that are positive cancer inhibitors and protectors. It has been shown to restrict the blood supply needed for tumour growth and Cancer Research UK confirmed in several studies its benefits in reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Go To: The Rainbow Diet

Cancers that are hormonally driven, for example, most breast cancers, can be limited by soy or soya.

Professor Trevor Powles when he was at the Royal Marsden, was actually trying to use Red Clover (which, like soy, contains the bioactive compound Genistein) to prevent and even treat breast cancer. He felt that their research studies were showing benefits, but that levels required still needed to be confirmed.

Dr. Young S. Kim who conducted research into cancer stem cells (which lie at the heart of every cancer) showed that genistein was one of the bioactive natural compounds that could stop such a cancer re-growing once a patient was in remission.

In a 2008 multi-study review(1) by Sanjeev Banerjee the introduction stated: Soy isoflavones have been identified as dietary compounds having an important role in reducing the incidence of breast and prostate cancers in Asian countries. Genistein, the predominant isoflavone found in soy products, has been shown to inhibit the carcinogenesis in animal models. There is a growing body of experimental evidence showing the inhibition of human cancer cell growth by genistein is via modulation of genes related to the control of cell cycle and apoptosis.

In a 2015 revue(2) on Genestein and cancer, the researchers noted this: Several epidemiological studies showed a relation between a soy-rich diet and cancer prevention, which was attributed to the presence of a phenolic compound, genstein, present in soy-based foods. Genestein acts as a chemotherapeutic agent against different types of cancer, mainly by altering apoptosis (cancer cell death), the cell cycle, and angeniosis and inhibiting metastases. 


Oestrogen is not the female sex-hormone as inaccurate commentary would have you believe. It is a family of chemicals all with a similar ’end’ to their molecules. This ’end’ can bind to important cellular receptor sites.

There are three groups of oestrogen. Human oestrogen, chemical oestrogen and plant oestrogen.

Human oestrogen is not a single hormone but a family of hormones, some aggressive, others less so. The most aggressive is oestradiol, made by aromatase enzymes in the fat stores of both men and women and which can bind to receptor sites on the membranes of healthy cells and send havoc messages into the cell. Oestradiol can drive cancers. Oestrone is the female sex hormone and is 40 times less ’powerful’.

Natural compounds such as Indole 3 carbinol can denature oestradiol to its weaker sister, oestrogen, and this causes far less ’damage’ to healthy cells.

Then there are external chemicals like parabens, BPA, toluene and phthalates which can also bind to these same receptor sites.

Plant oestrogens - or phytoestrogens - are far, far less harmful and also bind to healthy cell receptor sites blocking attack from more dangerous oestrogens. But, they bind more weakly, and wash through the body easily, so they have to be consumed daily.

For this reason, some experts like Professor Trevor Powles, call them ’anti-oestrogens’. Pulses, like lentils, red kidney beans, chick peas … and soya, and herbs like Red Clover are excellent sources of phytoestrogens.

Go To Book: Oestrogen - the killer in our midst

Be clear, these receptor sites will take any oestrogen and tamoxifen works in the same blocking way. Personally I’d rather have natural phytoestrogens doing the job for me!

The cows’ dairy - soya milk conflict

In several Scandinavian research studies from the Karolinska, there was an almost direct line correlation between cows’  milk consumption and the rate of prostate and testicular cancers. A similar study showed much the same for breast cancer, and another showed that two cups a day produced a five-fold increased risk of ovarian cancer. 

But the whole issue is fraught with politics and vested interest (See: Jane Plant, the dangers of cows’ dairy)  

And there are other studies that show the time to avoid cows’ dairy and saturated fat is during your teens and the sex gland development era. (Go To: Is Breast Cancer programmed by childhood diet?)

Soya seems an effective milk substitute because of its lack of saturated fat, growth and hormone-interfering chemicals, plus its content of polyphenolic bioactive compounds. Certainly people should ask themselves why they consume milk, when soya seems to have anti-cancer benefits and less cancer-promoting effects. Milk consumers are, after all, in the minority across the world.

The general term for phytoestrogens in soya is soya isoflavones and genistein, is 1,000 times more prevalent in the blood streams of women in China and Japan than those in the West. It has been shown to block mammary tumours in animals, and also to prevent the growth of the blood supply to all tumours. This blood supply is essential if a tumour is to grow. Isoflavones are particularly strong cancer blockers. For example, the blossoms of the red clover plant contain high levels and that is why Royal Marsden Hospital studied their effect on breast cancer. Hippocrates used Red Clover as his herb of choice with women.

Is Genestein really the great saviour?

Unfortunately, it is not an open and shut case. For example, there is research(3) from the University of Illinois which suggests that genistein can block the action of aromatase inhibitors in animal models. However, there are few studies to support this.

Genestein does cross the placenta and it is also found in breast milk.

Breast cancer

2006 research results from a collaborative study between Cancer Research UK, The National University of Singapore and The US National Cancer institute concluded that, "women who eat the most soya are 60% less likely to have breast cancer than those who eat less". The study followed over 400 women in Singapore and compared different levels of soya consumption. Dense breast tissue is associated with increased breast cancer risk. Women consuming soya reduce the density of their breast tissue. This was confirmed by another, larger study in 2009.

This study showed another effect of soya, that of lengthening the menstrual cycle. It is thought that the fewer menstrual cycles a woman goes through in her life, the lower her risk of breast cancer. It is estimated that the equivalent of two and a half bowls of Soya milk per day provides a start level for protection and strengthening, but 30 to 100 gms per day is an ideal amount. 

Soya and soya milk

Of course, soya milk is fraught with problems like GMO. It is estimated 70 per cent of Soya Milk can be GM. And sometimes the milk is sweetened.In the far East people do now drink Soya milk, but it is not the traditional way of consuming soy. 

Other good sources are of soya are textured vegetable protein, tofu, tempeh and miso. However, there the soya is in a fermented form and there is a debate as to whether the fermented product is as effective as the natural one. Some believe it is not, while others claim that fermented products such as miso and tamari are safer because fermentation reduces the harmful factors. They point to the Chinese, and claim that they did not eat soya until they discovered how to ferment it.

Furthermore you may want to avoid mass market* soy sauces as many of them are not true soya sauces but made by chemical production, with colourings and additives.

Finally, soya will not contain the essential sulphur amino acids of milk nor will you obtain vitamin B12 or vitamins A and D. You can get these by incorporating rice, sea foods, vegetables and garlic into your diet. Some child soya milk formulae are open to question, with high aluminium content and zinc impairment being sited, as well as possible allergies. However there is evidence that refutes these claims and, for example, aluminium levels are higher in milk.

At the end of all this debate there remains one essential fact. Cancer rates are greatly lower in the Far East and soya is a proven contributory factor. But it highlights the fact that over thousands of years populations build healthy balanced diets and a balance with their environment and you can’t just take bits of this and transplant it into your own Western diet without risking as much as you might gain.

Soya milk has been linked with allergies in young children. It may be that we don’t all the right gut bacteria as two-year-olds to deal with this new food. But that’s another story.

One last word. In the Far East, people simply do not drink milk or soya milk. They drink water or green tea. I live there! Unfortunately, advertising campaigns are persuading mums that cartons of the white stuff are healthy - often there is both soya milk and cows’ milk mixed in the one-off drink. People however eat vast, vast quantities of greens, pulses and herbs.

My view is that you simply should not go from drinking lots of cows’ milk to drinking lots of soya. Wean yourself off ’milk’ in either form and/or ring the changes - have a little goat’s milk, soya milk, rice milk, almond milk (preferably homemade).


*Stick to Tamari - wheat free, organic, traditionally aged in cedar wood kegs with a recipe which limits the water involved. Or, try Shoyu - contains whole-wheat, organic, aged for two years. Both are Japanese, both made with whole soya beans. Buy them, for example, in Holland & Barrett or Sainsbury.


Rainbow diet          At Last - the definitive, research based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Click here to read about it.







Please be clear: At CANCERactive we do not consider the above compound to be a cure for cancer, despite what the research says or experts doing the research may claim. The above, is an article on the compound from published research and expert opinion in the public domain. At CANCERactive we do not believe that any single compound (drug, vitamin, whatever) is a cure for cancer. We believe that people can significantly increase their personal odds of survival by building an Integrated Programme of treatments. Equally, cancer prevention is best practiced through a width of measures.

Cancer Prevention - Diet and Lifestyle
CancerAcitve Logo
Subscribe (Free e-Newsletter)

Join Chris'

Join Chris' NewsletterSignup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.