October 8/Health Business Week -- Soy may provide men protection against prostate cancer, heart disease and even baldness, according to Suzanne Dixon MPH, MS, RD, an internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, public health, nutrition and epidemiology.

Writing in the October "To Your Health," Vitasoy's health professionals quarterly, Dixon said that soy appears to protect against prostate cancer and may provide protection against hair loss, too. She said, "Male pattern baldness is associated with higher risk of prostate cancer and there may be a 'common pathway' through which soy protects against both prostate cancer and hair loss in men."

Soy consumption and reduced risk of prostate cancer are linked, noted Dixon. "Men who live in countries with higher soy consumption have lower risk of prostate cancer. This tells us that soy is a possible dietary component that may protect the prostate against cancer development."

Research in men with prostate cancer has shown that soy can reduce the rate at which prostate specific antigen (PSA) increases. According to Dixon, "This is good news because PSA is used to track how prostate cancer may be progressing in men with the disease. The slower PSA goes up, the better."

While recent research claims that soy decreases fertility in men, "this is preliminary and shouldn't keep men away from soy," notes Dixon. Also important to note is that more than two-thirds of the men studied were overweight or obese, conditions linked to decreased fertility. "It would be premature to tell men to avoid soy for fertility reasons at this point," explained Dixon.

How soy contributes to heart health has been controversial, but Dixon put it into perspective: "Whole soy foods, such as tofu and soy milk, are moderate to high in protein, contain no saturated fat, and provide important heart healthy nutrients such as calcium. If soy replaces foods that are higher in saturated fat, for example, this substitution alone can provide measurable heart health benefits."

From the October 13, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash