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Soy protein helps fight cancer and inflammation

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BY David Liu

University of Illinois researchers found a soy peptide called lunasin which is found in the waste streams of soy-processing plants, may be used to treat leukemia and prevent inflammation that is linked to chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

They reported in a study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research that consumption of 50 grams of soy protein for five days can significantly boost its availability in the blood.

Elvira de Mejia, a U of I professor of food science and human nutrition department identified a key sequence of amino acid - arginine, glycine, and aspartic acid that triggered death of leukemia cells by activating a protein known as caspase-3.

soy_foods_448412684.jpgThey also verified that lunasin inhibits topoisomerase 2, which is an enzyme that marks the development of cancer.

In another study, the researchers reported for the first time lunasin's potential anti-inflammatory properties. Lunasin was found to block or reduce the activation of an important marker called NF-kappa-B, which is involved in inflammation.

Lunasin can also reduce interleukin-1 and interleukin-6, both play an important role in the inflammatory process. A greater reduction was found in interleukin-6.

Inflammation is involved in chronic health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer, de Mejia said.

"And we can see that daily consumption of lunasin-rich soy protein may help to reduce chronic inflammation. Future studies should help us to make dietary recommendations," she said.

Lunasin is found high in some types of soy beans, but not all soybeans have high levels of this peptide. The yield of this soy protein depends also on the location.

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