You’ve recommended soy milk, but I read that soy products may cause breast cancer. Can you clarify this accusation?

— Dee M., Camarillo

When you compare countries where soy is eaten in high amounts, breast cancer is rare. As a matter of fact, countries where soy products are rarely consumed have higher incidents of breast cancer.

The concern that soy products may cause breast cancer came about because of genistein, the main soy isoflavone and a plant estrogen. Some studies point to the possibility that this isoflavone may promote growth of existing cancer cells. But then again, there are studies where it appears to do the opposite. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic recently reviewed all the evidence and concluded that soy has not been shown to fuel breast cancer cells. “If breast cancer patients enjoy soy products,” they concluded, “it seems reasonable for them to continue to use them.”

Whether soy actually protects against breast cancer is still unknown. Similarly, the same could be said about dairy.

Because soy is a plant and I am a huge believer in the integration and consumption of plant-based nutrition, enjoy your soy. Just make sure you consume non-GMO (genetically engineered agricultural) foods. And keep an eye out for the high content of sodium in most soy products.

Can tropical fruit drinks cure cancer?

Recently I was introduced to mangosteen juice and told that it is the ultimate health drink. Do you know much about this miracle drink?

— Tam L., Ventura

Most exotic fruits and their juices are nutritious. However, it’s not in your best interest to assume mangosteen or any other exotic fruit juices are able to cure diseases like cancer.

The fact is this: Mangosteen marketers make farfetched and unsubstantiated claims for their products, which are sold as “dietary supplements” via multi-level (network) marketing. The most promoted brand is XanGo, which comes both as a juice puree and in capsules. The juice can cost $25 or more for a 25-ounce bottle.

Per laboratory studies, the rind of the mangosteen seems to have some anti-cancer effects in test tube studies. Although the mangosteen is said to have antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, there are no clinical trials to support the long list of health claims. See, what happens in a test tube or animal may not occur in a human.

Whether it’s cancer, heart disease or arthritis, to name a few of the many diseases that take away from one’s quality of life, the same recommendation pertains: eat healthfully and exercise regularly.