Estimated Asian adult soy protein and isoflavone intakes

Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(1):1-12. doi: 10.1207/s15327914nc5501_1.


There is substantial interest in the possible anticancer effects of soy foods. In part, this is because of the historically low incidence rates of breast and prostate cancer in Asia. Of the several putative soybean chemopreventive agents, isoflavones have received the most attention. Awareness of this research has led increasing numbers of consumers to use soy foods, isoflavone-fortified foods, and isoflavone supplements. Therefore, there is a need for guidance regarding appropriate isoflavone intake levels. To this end, this article analyzed soy protein (as a surrogate for isoflavones) and isoflavone intake of the major soy food-consuming countries using individual dietary surveys for the bulk of the information. In total, 24 surveys from 4 countries that met the inclusion criteria were identified: Japan (n = 11), China (n = 7), Hong Kong (n = 4), and Singapore (n = 2). The results indicate that older Japanese adults consume approximately 6-11 g of soy protein and 25-50 mg of isoflavones (expressed as aglycone equivalents) per day. Intake in Hong Kong and Singapore is lower than in Japan, whereas significant regional intake differences exist for China. Evidence suggests that < or =10% of the Asian population consumes as much as 25 g of soy protein or 100 mg of isoflavones per day. The applicability of these findings for making soy intake recommendations for non-Asians is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China / epidemiology
  • Diet Surveys
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Isoflavones / administration & dosage*
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Singapore / epidemiology
  • Soybean Proteins / administration & dosage*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Isoflavones
  • Soybean Proteins