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Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is an anabolic hormone important for growth and development. However, high-circulating serum concentrations in adults are associated with increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Nutritional status and specific foods influence serum IGF-1 concentrations. Breast cancer incidence is typically low in Asian countries where soy is commonly consumed. Paradoxically, soy supplement trials in American women have reported significant increases in IGF-1. Seaweed also is consumed regularly in Asian countries where breast cancer risk is low. We investigated the possibility that seaweed could modify soy-associated increases in IGF-1 in American women. Thirty healthy postmenopausal women (mean age 58 yr) participated in this 14-wk double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial. Participants consumed 5 g/day placebo or seaweed (Alaria esculenta) in capsules for 7 wk. During the 7th wk, a high-soy protein isolate powder was added (2 mg/kg body weight aglycone equivalent isoflavones). Overnight fasting blood samples were collected after each intervention period. Soy significantly increased serum IGF-1 concentrations compared to the placebo (21.2 nmol/L for soy vs. 16.9 nmol/L for placebo; P = 0.0001). The combination of seaweed and soy significantly reduced this increase by about 40% (21.2 nmol/L for soy alone vs. 19.4 nmol/L; P = 0.01). Concurrent seaweed and soy consumption may be important in modifying the effect of soy on IGF-1 serum concentrations.

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