Dietary isoflavone intake and all-cause mortality in breast cancer survivors: The Breast Cancer Family Registry

Cancer. 2017 Jun 1;123(11):2070-2079. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30615. Epub 2017 Mar 6.


Background: Soy foods possess both antiestrogenic and estrogen-like properties. It remains controversial whether women diagnosed with breast cancer should be advised to eat more or less soy foods, especially for those who receive hormone therapies as part of cancer treatment.

Methods: The association of dietary intake of isoflavone, the major phytoestrogen in soy, with all-cause mortality was examined in 6235 women with breast cancer enrolled in the Breast Cancer Family Registry. Dietary intake was assessed using a Food Frequency Questionnaire developed for the Hawaii-Los Angeles Multiethnic Cohort among 5178 women who reported prediagnosis diet and 1664 women who reported postdiagnosis diet. Cox proportional-hazard models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results: During a median follow-up of 113 months (approximately 9.4 years), 1224 deaths were documented. A 21% decrease was observed in all-cause mortality for women who had the highest versus lowest quartile of dietary isoflavone intake (≥1.5 vs < 0.3 mg daily: HR, 0.79; 95% confidence interval CI, 0.64-0.97; Ptrend = .01). Lower mortality associated with higher intake was limited to women who had tumors that were negative for hormone receptors (HR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.29-0.83; Ptrend = .005) and those who did not receive hormone therapy for their breast cancer (HR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.51-0.91; Ptrend = .02). Interactions, however, did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: In this large, ethnically diverse cohort of women with breast cancer living in North America, a higher dietary intake of isoflavone was associated with reduced all-cause mortality. Cancer 2017;123:2070-2079. © 2017 American Cancer Society.

Keywords: breast cancer; breast cancer survivors; isoflavone; mortality; soy; survival.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Registries*
  • Survivors


  • Isoflavones
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone