The Power of Prevention, Part 3: Building a Better Bread to Beat Prostate Cancer
Investigators in Ohio State’s cancer program are developing a novel approach to providing soy in the diet for cancer-prevention studies. They have developed two functional foods – soy bread and soy-almond bread – that are being tested in men with prostate cancer.
Both breads were created by an Ohio State team led by Yael Vodovotz, PhD, a physical chemistry researcher and food scientist who is a member of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
Steven Clinton, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist and researcher at the OSUCCC – James who specializes in treating and preventing prostate cancer, directed the clinical trial involving 32 men with prostate cancer at The James.
Gregory Lesinski, PhD, MPH, a cancer immunologist at the OSUCCC – James, has been evaluating how soy impacts the immune system in men on the trial. The researchers have completed their laboratory analysis and are in the final phases of statistical analysis. They expect to publish their findings by autumn 2014.
The investigators are focusing on isoflavones, which are among many different compounds in soy that are studied for health-promoting properties. OSUCCC – James researchers believe soy may also have benefits for various cancers, such as prostate cancer.
Since soy is not commonly consumed in the Western diet, the researchers developed novel breads that taste good and are easily incorporated into the diet. Almonds were added to potentially improve the anticancer activity of the soy breads.
"Almonds are a rich source of an enzyme that converts the isoflavones in soy to a chemical form that is theoretically better absorbed in the body," Vodovotz says. "So we added almonds to produce soy bread with a chemical composition that was better absorbed than our original soy bread."
For eight weeks, half of the study participants daily consumed three slices of soy bread and half consumed an identical amount of soy-almond bread. Then, after a two-week period of consuming no soy, the groups switched bread types and repeated the pattern for another eight weeks.
Clinton says the researchers won’t report preliminary conclusions until sample analysis is complete, but they do note that study compliance was outstanding and that the bread was easily incorporated into the diet "with very good taste characteristics."
In addition, Lesinski’s preliminary findings, as presented at national meetings, indicate that soy may have anti-inflammatory properties that might reduce the risk of certain cancers and may also enhance anticancer immunity.
The team also observes that the participants show several different patterns in their metabolism of soy components. "Our analysis suggests that soy metabolites and their potential to impact cancer risk are influenced by other foods you consume and by your genetics," Clinton says.
"It’s likely that the genes impacting how we respond to anticancer drugs also impact the metabolism of many dietary components," Vodovotz adds. "All of these issues could affect how soy may work to reduce cancer risk."
The researchers are working to commercialize their breads for wider consumption.
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