Population-based case-control study of soyfood intake and breast cancer risk in Shanghai

Br J Cancer. 2001 Aug 3;85(3):372-8. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2001.1873.


We evaluated the association of soyfood intake and breast cancer risk in a population-based case-control study among Chinese women in Shanghai. Included in the study were 1459 cases and 1556 age-matched controls, with respective response rates of 91.1% and 90.3%. Usual soyfood intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Separate analyses were performed for all subjects and for the subset who reported no recent change in soyfood intake. The intake levels of soyfoods among women in Shanghai are high, with 96.6% women reporting soyfood consumption at least once a week. A statistically non-significant reduced risk (odds ratio (OR) = 0.78 95% CI = 0.52-1.16) of breast cancer was observed among those who reported eating soyfood at least once a week. Compared to those in the lowest decile intake group, women in the highest decile intake group had a 30% reduced risk of breast cancer (OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.46-0.95), but no monotonic dose-response relation was observed (P for trend, 0.28). Stratified analyses showed that the inverse association was restricted primarily among women who had a high body mass index (BMI), with an adjusted OR of 0.30 (95% CI = 0.10-0.94) observed for the highest intake group. The reduction in risk was stronger for breast cancer positive for both oestrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) (OR = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.25-0.78) than those with other ER/PR status. More pronounced inverse associations were observed in analyses among those who reported no recent change in soyfood intake than those conducted in all subjects. A dose-response relation between soyfood intake and breast cancer risk was observed in this subset of women (P for trend, 0.02), with an OR of 0.46 (95%CI = 0.28-0.75) for those in the highest decile intake group. No clear monotonic dose-response relation was found between soyfood intake and breast cancer risk among regular soy eaters, but nevertheless the results suggest that regular soyfood consumption may reduce the risk of breast cancer, particularly for those positive for ER and PR; the effect may be modified by body mass index.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Body Constitution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • China / epidemiology
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Soybeans*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone