Soy May Lower Risk of Colon Cancer

May 24, 2004 08:40 AM EDT

A recent study has found that a molecule contained in soybeans may help reduce the risk of colon cancer.

The study, published in the May issue of the Journal of Nutrition, found soy glucosylceramide (soy GlcCer) reduced the formation and growth of tumor cells in the gastrointestinal tracts of mice.

Previous research found tumor suppressing properties

Soy is known to have a number of health benefits, including the suppression of cancer. Based on past research, it is believed some of this benefit may be due to a group of molecules known as sphingolipids.

Soy GlcCer is one of many kinds of sphingolipids found in animals and plants. In previous research, scientists found that milk sphingolipids suppress tumor formation. This new study is the first to show that plant sphingolipids also inhibit cancer.

Only small amounts needed

The study found massive amounts of soy GlcCer were not required to achieve an anticancer effect. The amounts of soy GlcCer effective in suppressing cancer in the experiments were similar to those naturally found in soybeans.

Along with soybeans, other foods rich in sphingolipids include cheese, eggs and wheat flour.


1. A. H. Merrill, Jr.; Dillehay, D.L., Schmelz, E.M., Symolon, H., ¡°Dietary Soy Sphingolipids Suppress Tumorigenesis and Gene Expression in 1, 2-Dimethylhydrazine-Treated CF1 Mice and ApcMin/+ Mice,¡± Journal of Nutrition, 2004 134: 1157-1161.