Skip to main content

Does high soy milk intake reduce prostate cancer incidence? The Adventist Health Study (United States)


Objectives: Recent experimental studies have suggested that isoflavones (such as genistein and daidzein) found in some soy products may reduce the risk of cancer. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between soy milk, a beverage containing isoflavones, and prostate cancer incidence.

Methods: A prospective study with 225 incident cases of prostate cancer in 12,395 California Seventh-Day Adventist men who in 1976 stated how often they drank soy milk.

Results: Frequent consumption (more than once a day) of soy milk was associated with 70 per cent reduction of the risk of prostate cancer (relative risk=0.3, 95 percent confidence interval 0.1-1.0, p-value for linear trend=0.03). The association was upheld when extensive adjustments were performed.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that men with high consumption of soy milk are at reduced risk of prostate cancer. Possible associations between soy bean products, isoflavones and prostate cancer risk should be further investigated.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Kolonel LN. Nutrition and prostate cancer. Cancer Causes Control 1996; 7: 83–94.

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Messina MJ, Persky V, Setchell KDR, Barnes S. Soy intake and cancer risk: A review of the in vitro and in vivo data. Nutr Cancer 1994; 21: 113–31.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Reinli K, Block G. Phytoestrogen content of foods-A compendium of literature values. Nutr Cancer 1996; 26: 123–48.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Adlercreutz H, Mazur W. Phyto-oestrogens and Western diseases. Ann Intern Med 1997; 29: 95–120.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Adlercreutz H. Phytoestrogens: Epidemiology and a possible role in cancer protection. Environ Health Perspect 1995; 103 (Suppl 7): 103–12.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Messina M, Barnes S, Setchell KD. Phyto-oestrogens and breast cancer. Lancet 1997; 350: 971–2.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Kurzer MS, Xu X. Dietary phytoestrogens. Ann Rev Nutr 1997: 17: 353–81.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Peterson G, Barnes S. Genistein and biochanin A inhibit the growth of human prostate cancer cells but not epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine autophosphorylation. Prostate 1993; 22: 335–45.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Santibáñez JF, Navarro A, Martínez J. Genistein inhibits proliferation and in vitro invasive potential of human prostatic cancer cell lines. Anticancer Res 1997; 17: 1199–1204.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Evans BAJ, Griffiths K, Morton MS. Inhibition of 5a-reductase in genital skin fibroblasts and prostate tissue by dietary ligans and isoflavonoids. J Endocrinol 1995; 147: 295–302.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Dwyer JT, Goldin BR, Saul N, Gualtieri L, Barakat S, Adlercreutz H. Tofu and soy drinks contain phytoestrogens. J Am Diet Assoc 1994; 94: 739–43.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Beeson WL, Mills PK, Phillips RL, Andress M, Fraser GE. Chronic disease among Seventh-day Adventists, a low-risk group. Rationale, methodology, and description of the population. Cancer 1989; 64: 570–81.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Fraser GE, Sabaté J, Beeson WL, Strahan TM. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Arch Int Med 1992; 152: 1416–24.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Beeson WL, Fraser GE, Mills PK. Validation of Record Linkage to 2 Californian Population-Based Tumor Registries in a Cohort Study. Proceedings of the 1989 Public Health Conference on Records and Statistics. DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 90-1214. Hyattsville: National Center for Health Statistics, 1989: 196–201.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Breslow NE, Day NE. Statistical Methods in Cancer Research. Vol. II — The Design and Analysis of Cohort Studies. Lyon: IARC, 1987.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    SAS/STAT Users Guide, Version 6, 4th. ed. Cary: SAS Institute, 1990.

  17. 17.

    Kennedy AR. The evidence for soybean products as cancer preventive agents. J Nutr 1995; 125: 733S–43S.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Zhou Y, Lee AS. Mechanism for the suppression of the mammalian stress response by genistein, an anticancer phytoestrogen from soy. J Natl Cancer Inst 1998; 90: 381–8.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Mills PK, Beeson WL, Phillips RL, Fraser GE. Cohort study of diet, lifestyle, and prostate cancer in Adventist men. Cancer 1989; 64: 598–604.

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Severson RK, Nomura AMY, Grove JS, Stemmermann GN. A prospective study of demographics, diet, and prostate cancer among men of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii. Cancer Res 1989; 49: 1857–60.

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Lee MM, Wang R-T, Hsing AW, Gu F-L, Wang T, Spitz M. Case-control study of diet and prostate cancer in China. Cancer Causes Control 1998; 9: 545–52.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Stephens FO. Phytoestrogens and prostate cancer: possible preventive role. Med J Aust 1997; 167: 138–140.

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Carter BS, Carter HB, Isaacs JT. Epidemiologic evidence regarding predisposing factors to prostate cancer. Prostate 1990; 16: 187–97.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Jacobsen, B.K., Knutsen, S.F. & Fraser, G.E. Does high soy milk intake reduce prostate cancer incidence? The Adventist Health Study (United States). Cancer Causes Control 9, 553–557 (1998).

Download citation

  • Daidzein
  • etiology
  • genistein
  • isoflavones
  • prostate cancer
  • soy milk