Purpose of review
As alternative medicine gains popularity in the US, a greater understanding of the proven benefits and detriments of the supplements commonly used is needed by physicians. Chemoprevention through the use of supplements or dietary means is one example. Through epidemiological studies, it is clear that there is variation in the geographic incidence of certain cancers. One such variation is in prostate cancer, for which Asian men have a decreased death rate as compared with their Western counterparts. One hypothesis for this reduction in prostate cancer deaths is due to the difference in soy consumption. The purpose of this paper is to review the effects of soy at the molecular level as well as to review the in-vivo effects.
The mechanism by which soy or, more accurately, the isoflavones act is described in this review. Multiple studies attempting to clarify the effects of the isoflavones on molecular pathways will be discussed. Furthermore, recent studies demonstrating the effect of isoflavones on prostate-specific antigen, testosterone, estrogen, and hormone receptor expression in human subjects will be reviewed.
After reading this review, we expect that the reader will understand the background of the isoflavones, the effect they exert at the molecular level, and their proposed benefits and limitations in human patients. However, what will be evident at the conclusion of this manuscript is the need for future studies of the effects of soy in prostate cancer patients.