Researchers wary of recommending diet changes until more study done.

Eating soy-based foods and vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage and bok choy could help the symptoms of menopause experienced by some breast cancer survivors who take hormone treatment, according to a new study.

Successful cancer therapy is often followed up with drugs, such as Tamoxifen, that block the female hormone oestrogen. Around 70% of tumours are sensitive to oestrogen, which makes them grow more aggressively, and Tamoxifen can nearly halve the risk of the cancer returning.

But the treatment has side effects. Shutting down oestrogen can trigger disabling symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes and night sweats. Enter the vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables of the cabbage family, so named for the cross-shaped petals of their flowers, as well as soy-containing foods such as tofu, edamame and soy milk, can mimic the effects of oestrogen.

They contain phytochemicals – biologically active plant compounds – including isoflavones in soy that bind to oestrogen receptors, and glucosinolates in the cabbage group that alter oestrogen metabolism.

The researchers, led by oncologist Judy Huei yu Wang at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Georgetown University, US, wanted to see if these foodstuffs protect against menopause symptoms, as well as the fatigue, memory loss and joint problems often seen with hormone treatment.

To find out they surveyed 365 Chinese-American and Non-Hispanic White breast cancer survivors in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas of California.

Read the full article in Cosmos magazine here