Legume and isoflavone intake and prostate cancer risk: The Multiethnic Cohort Study

Int J Cancer. 2008 Aug 15;123(4):927-32. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23594.


Findings from studies of legume, soy and isoflavone intake and prostate cancer risk are as yet inconclusive, although soy has received considerable attention due to its high phytoestrogen content. Therefore, the present study investigated the relationship of these dietary exposures to prostate cancer risk in the Multiethnic Cohort Study in Hawaii and Los Angeles. The analyses included 82,483 men who completed a detailed quantitative food frequency questionnaire in 1993-1996. A total of 4,404 prostate cancer cases including 1,278 nonlocalized or high-grade cases were recorded during the average follow-up period of 8 years. Multivariate relative risks (RR) and 95% of confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models with age as the time metric. Among men with the highest intake of legumes, the risk reduction was 11% for total prostate cancer (RR = 0.89, 95% CI = 0.80-0.99, p for trend = 0.007) and 26% for nonlocalized or high-grade cancer (RR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.61-0.90, p for trend = 0.007) compared to men with the lowest intake. Similar risk reductions were observed for soy products and for legumes excluding soy products in separate analyses. We found no significant risk reduction associated with intake of total or specific isoflavones for either total prostate cancer or for nonlocalized or high-grade cancer. The findings of our study suggest that legume intake is associated with a moderate reduction in prostate cancer risk and that the isoflavones in soy products are probably not responsible for this effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet
  • Fabaceae*
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Soy Foods


  • Isoflavones