Background: Conclusions drawn from meta-analyses on the association between soy isoflavone intake and breast cancer risk for pre- and post-menopausal women are not fully consistent. These meta-analyses did not explore the influence of different study designs on the pooled results on the basis of distinguishing between pre- and post-menopausal women.
Methodology and principal findings: We performed a meta-analysis of 35 studies which reported results of association between soy isoflavone intake and breast cancer risk for pre- and/or post-menopausal women, calculated pooled odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals of pre- and post-menopausal women respectively, and further explored soy isoflavone-breast cancer association on the basis of considering different study regions and designs. Summary results suggested that soy isoflavone intake has a protective effect against breast cancer for both pre- and post-menopausal women. However, they are influenced by study design and region. Pooled ORs of studies carried out in Asian countries suggested that soy isoflavone's protective effect exist in both pre- and post-menopausal women (OR = 0.59, 95%CI: 0.48-0.69 for premenopausal women; OR = 0.59, 95%CI: 0.44-0.74 for postmenopausal women). However, there are some differences between the results pooled from different study designs for women in Asian countries (test for consistency, P = 0.04). Pooled OR of studies on postmenopausal women in Western countries suggested that soy isoflavone intake has a marginally significant protective effect (OR = 0.92; 95%CI: 0.83 ∼ 1.00), but further analyses stratifying by study design found no statistically significant association.
Conclusions: We meta-analyzed more and newer research results, and separated women according to menopausal status to explore soy isoflavone-breast cancer association. We founded that soy isoflavone intake could lower the risk of breast cancer for both pre- and post-menopausal women in Asian countries. However, for women in Western countries, pre- or post-menopausal, there is no evidence to suggest an association between intake of soy isoflavone and breast cancer.