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Good news for Chinese food lovers: Tofu and dry bean may lower cancer risk

Harold Mandel's picture
Delicious, nutritious tofu

Chinese food has been very popular worldwide for a long time, not just because if it is prepared well it is delicious, but also because of its health promoting properties. Good Chinese dishes are lower in fat and cholesterol than your standard western dishes. An interest has arisen dealing with the possible cancer protective properties in many Chinese foods. Recent research shows that tofu and dry beans may protect against gastric cancer.

There have been many reports about the cancer protective properties of soy. Reporting on this, EmaxHealth reporter Kathleen Blanchard, RN has written about findings that soy changes genes to fight colon cancer. Blanchard has also written on findings that genistein in soy could stop prostate cancer spread. Emaxhealth reporter Armen Hareyan has written about findings that soy protein may reduce prostate cancer risk.

The Journal of Nutrition has reported on research showing that consuming specific nonfermented soy foods may lower the risk of distal gastric cancer. Over the years there have been observations of inconsistent associations between soy consumption and gastric cancer. Researchers in China decided to evaluate the supposed effect of soy food on gastric cancer risk in the Shanghai Women’s and Men’s Health Studies, which had a total of 128,687 participants.

The researchers concluded that there was not a statistically significant association between nonfermented soy food intake and distal gastric cancer risk. However, their data supported the hypothesis that tofu may very well offer protection against distal gastric cancer in men and dry bean consumption may very well lower the risk of gastric cancer in postmenopausal women.

The Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Michigan offers a good description of what tofu actually is. Tofu, which is also known as soybean curd, is a soft, cheese-like food which is made by curdling fresh hot soymilk with a coagulant. The curds are than processed into solid blocks. Tofu is loaded with high-quality protein. Tofu serves as an excellent source of B-vitamins and iron. Tofu is low in saturated fat and does not contain any cholesterol.

The US Dry Bean Council writes that beans are naturally low in fat. They are free of saturated fat and trans-fat. Beans offer a cholesterol-free source of protein. A diet which includes beans may lower your risk of heart disease. Furthermore, because beans are a good natural source of antioxidants and phytochemicals, a diet which includes beans may lower your risk of certain cancers.

The World Health Organization reports that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Most cancer deaths occur from lung, breast, colorectal, stomach, and prostate cancers. Significant risk factors for cancer are:

1: Tobacco use

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2: Unhealthy diet

3: Physical inactivity

4: Harmful use of alcohol.

Eating salted, cured, and smoked foods has been linked to an increase in gastric cancer risk. Medline Plus has noted that the number of people in the United States who get gastric cancer has gone down over the years, apparently because people are eating less salted, cured, and smoked foods. Gastric cancer risk is increased if you:

Have a family history of gastric cancer

Have an infection of the stomach by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori

3: Had a polyp larger than 2 centimeters in your stomach

4: Have inflammation and swelling of the stomach for a long time, or chronic atrophic gastritis

5: Have pernicious anemia


I have observed a heightened interest in dietary factors which may be associated with cancer. More people than ever have been adhering to healthy lifestyles, including more exercise, with an understanding this will help lower their risk for many types of cancer. I believe more aggressive encouragement of better diets will help to lower cancer rates even more significantly.

People should be encouraged to eat more fruit and vegetables, less red meat and salted, cured, and smoked foods, and to avoid high fat foods, smoking and too much alcohol. Awareness of the potential benefits of tofu and dry beans for cancer prevention should compel more people to enjoy healthy Asian foods and other foods which include these foods. This should all be very helpful in the fight against cancer.