Can soy sauce cause cancer?

10 03 2016

I tried searching the net and did not find a lot of article talking about this matter, which had articles online in 2001. So wanted to repost the information I found so next time it would be easier to search when someone types in “can soy sauce cause cancer” or “soy sauce cancer”.

“3-MCPD is present in a wide range of foods that includes cereals (biscuits, including malted and toasted products), bread, breakfast cereals, corn snacks, savoury crackers. Dairy creams (aerosols and dessert toppings); low fat cheeses, Parmesan cheeses, processed cheeses and cheese alternatives, meats (chargrilled burgers, cooked meat, salami, smoked bacon, breaded products, cakes and pastries). In light of these findings, there is a call to reduce the levels of chloropropanols as low as technologically possible and the public is advised to maintain a balanced diet in order to avoid excessive intake of 3-MCPD and 1,3-DCP. The European Union has adopted a lower standard that allows 0.02 mg/kg of 3-MCPD in soy sauce, which came into force in 2002.”


Article reposted below, highlighting what I find important. Be aware that this article was written to address Filipino concers but it applies to consuming soy sauce.


“Does your soy sauce cause cancer?

Last week, Miss Pinky Webb of ABS-CBN presented a report that many of the popular soy sauce brands in the market could be cancer causing.Considering how much soy sauce is part of the Filipino diet  the news report should have caused a mega stir but surprisingly it did not.

It could be that folks just took the soy sauce report with a grain of salt after the airing of so many questionable news reports by the broadcast media, which are slanted towards perpetuating the Filipino over-entertained and under informed syndrome. It could also be that Filipinos  besieged by high prices, lawlessness in our communities, terrorist threats, an alarming Metro Manila pollution, rampant infections  simply considered the cancer risk in some soy sauce brands as less likely to kill them.


Whatever it is, your Chair Wrecker felt that the matter needed a deeper probe. The ABS-CBN report avoided specifying the soy sauce brands that contain the risk of cancer. Luckily, we have the right friend to call on for this clarification – Dr. Suzette Lazo, the Director of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

During our phone discussion, Dr. Suzette narrated how this had already been raised as an issue several years ago and that they had already looked into it and had taken the necessary steps to ensure consumer protection. Dr. Suzette was surprised why this issue was resurrected since the warning did not come from the FDA. Further investigation by your Chair Wrecker pointed to a market player as the source of the scare campaign.

Per Dr. Suzette, the substance in question is called 3-MCPD  a by-product of acid hydrolysis of a vegetable protein called HVP. Dr. Suzette also shared with us a primer, transmitted via email, she had made about this issue, as follows:

Primer on 3-MCPD

1. 3 chloro-1,2-propanediol (3-MCPD) is a by-product of acid hydrolysis process of vegetable protein (HVP) shown by animal studies to be carcinogenic at high doses (greater than 20 ppm) when given at prolonged periods in animals (Sunahara 1993, Cho 2008 – Appendix 1).in October 2000 the Committee on Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment considered two new toxicity studies and has advised that 3-MCPD need no longer be considered as mutagenic in vivo, but still carcinogenic in animals.

2. Given the demonstrated carcinogenic effect, there has been no such effect actually documented in human subjects. JECFA states: “At any level of intake that can reasonably be expected to be encountered, 3-chloro-1,2-propanediol would not show acute toxic effects…” (page 21 , WHO Food Additives Series 48).

3. Initial levels surveyed in Asian soya sauces (soy sauce, oyster sauce) showed excessively high levels of 3-MCPD (about 300 ppm) but over the years, improvement in production have decreased these levels and previously non-compliant products have met the standards.

4. Around 2001, countries set standards for allowable limits of 3-MCPD based on results of toxicity studies. Health Canada for example used the LOEFL value of 1.1 mg/kg body weight per day demonstrated by long-term toxicity and carcinogenicity effects from the Sunahara study in 1993 and applying an UNCERTAINTY FACTOR of 1000 as follows: 1.1 mg divided by a factor of 1000 = 1.1 ug/kg as the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI).

5. In 2002, the Bureau of Food and Drug issued Memorandum Circular No. 4 (Appendix 3) adopting 1 ppm as the allowable limits of 3-MCPD contaminant in soy sauce products following the standards used by the US FDA, Health Canada and Thailand.

6. Over the years, further studies have been carried out in Asian populations to ascertain the risk from consumption of 3-MCPD. Studies have been conducted in Asia in Hong Kong and in Thailand that showed that based on actual consumption, subjects in the study were unlikely to experience major toxicological effects from 3- MCPD (Appendix 4).

7. Downstream of the 3-MCPD metabolic pathway is another chloropropanol, 1,3 DCP which has also been shown to be carcinogenic.

8. Later surveys in Europe have ascertained that aside from soy sauce products, 3-MCPD is present in a wide range of foods that includes cereals (biscuits, including malted and toasted products), bread, breakfast cereals, corn snacks, savoury crackers. Dairy creams (aerosols and dessert toppings); low fat cheeses, Parmesan cheeses, processed cheeses and cheese alternatives, meats (chargrilled burgers, cooked meat, salami, smoked bacon, breaded products, cakes and pastries). In light of these findings, there is a call to reduce the levels of chloropropanols as low as technologically possible and the public is advised to maintain a balanced diet in order to avoid excessive intake of 3-MCPD and 1,3-DCP. The European Union has adopted a lower standard that allows 0.02 mg/kg of 3-MCPD in soy sauce, which came into force in 2002. The Codex Alimentarius adopted a higher standard of 0.4 mg/kg, which the FDA will also be adopting next year.

9. FDA has made a general review of all soy sauce products in the Philippines and to date 16 products have been compliant with the 1-ppm maximum allowable limit (DOH-FDA Advisory 2011-015 in Appendix 5). Products that failed to comply were subjected to voluntary recall until they can demonstrate that 3-MCPD levels comply with standards through improvement of the manufacturing process.

10. FDA assures the public that soy sauce products compliant with the 1-ppm maximum allowable standard are safe for consumption. Acute toxicity studies (LD50) as determined by JECFA of 150 mg/kg will require continuous intake of about 8,000 liters for prolonged periods to cause harm; a volume which is impossible far too much (Appendix 6). Estimations also show that even with daily intake of 30 ml based on consumption data of heavy users like the Japanese would show that users of Philippine soy sauce products would consume amounts of 3-MCPD which is several-fold (23 times) lower that the Tolerable Daily Intake of 3-MCPD (Appendix 7).

Prepared by:

Suzette H. Lazo, MD


Food and Drug Administration

Due to space limitations, the mentioned appendices could not be included.

Filipinos should make it a habit to check the FDA content analysis of each of the food and drink brands that they’re consuming. We should do this as if our lives depended on it. In a globalized world, the risks that many food and drink products could be harmful have increased concomitantly.

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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: and

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Strong women

6 09 2014

Came across this amazing profile and thought I’d share it to encourage self into positive-thinking mode.

“Thanh Thao Le, M.D.                                                                                                                     

TT was born in Saigon, Viet Nam, and immigrated from Vietnam with her family as a teen.  Overcoming language and cultural barriers, her family settled in Houston, TX.  She attended Davenport University in Grand Rapids, MI where she received both her BS and MBA.  TT serves as a Vietnamese interpreter for Language Line Services, which is an international company that translates for 911 emergency calls, hospital and doctor’s offices, insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare services, the police department and banks. Family is an important part of her life, but she also like spending spare time with her husband, reading mysteries and writing, watching medical dramas and documentaries, listenting to music, traveling and learning about cultures.  She is learning new cuisines and perfecting her Vietnamese cooking.  Thao, now known as Captain Le will be stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.”

Finished Internal Medicine.. Hello OBGYN

31 03 2013

OBGYN is a different monster of its own. I couldn’t believe it was my second day and there were deliveries left and right. We had an eventful call day with 3 vaginals deliveries + 4 Cesarian sections. The hours are rough though since I don’t understand why the doctors are allowed to sleep during calls but we have to stay awake for 30 hours straight. Basically with this rotation there are no days off, since on the day we’re actually off we’re catching up on sleep.

On surgery days, we see D&Cs mostly and hysterocospies with mini laprarotomies. It’s important to know how the doctor is going to do a C-section or how they plan to do their vaginal deliveries. It’s true when they say few females are rougher than their male counterparts. Thank God I’m not one of them since I try to be gentle when possible.

One male doctor gave me the best impression of a C-section anyone could ask for. No staples! He sutured the inside of the incision and before the whole procedure he removed the old Cesarian scar. This was C-section and patient compassion at its best. I didn’t touch the baby, but got to deliver the placenta. All I have to say is,… it was bloody gross. Watching live births are more beautiful because of the whole birthing process. Except when the amniotic fluid gushes out everywhere or squirt up like a geyser during a cesarian. Trying to be as professional as possible, but considering it’s our first time seeing this…. we have to be given a break.

Life is too precious to sweat the small stuff

2 08 2012

In a previous photo I took of my grandpa and my baby cousin, I thought it was interesting to compare old generation against new generation. Whoever took the photo shown here really captures the whole point of life old and new.

This puppy is soooo cute!

An amazing painting from a Buddhist medical clinic caught my attention. It doesn’t matter what religion one is from the image captures the essence embracing the Hippocratic Oath and embodies the beauty of human kindness and caring.

For we have forgotten what John 8:7 in the bible says: “Jesus faced a mob that was eager to execute a woman caught in adultery. He put a stop to it with a simple challenge: anyone who has no sin in their life should step forward and throw the first stone.”  That sentence is often cited as a reminder to avoid judging others when there are faults in your own life that need to be addressed.

The whole point of this post is that we need to value everyone’s life.

Economics in One Lesson book

6 06 2012

According to author of this book Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt (1952), “[I]t is essential for the health of a dynamic economy that dying industries should be allowed to die as growing industries should be allowed to grow.  For the dying industries absorb labor and capital that should be released for the growing industries.”

Economics isn’t about buying up mal-investments and having tax payers take up such responsibility. Henry Hazlitt says that this cycle is never-ending and businesses will be created unless we keep hoarding. The book is 198 pages, big font, available here

Savings rate

Government interference by injecting money into banks can force people to accept lower interest rates. People who save are not frugal, as the money they put into banks earn interest and help in lending processes to creates businesses and jobs.  Hoarders, those who put money under mattresses or hide them, do more damage than those who put money into banks.  Stagnation occurs when savings exceed investing.  This is not to say that one should go out and spend lavishly to show off to the world that they are helping the economy, because in the end the one who loses most is this person since they are spending into their own capital. Help stabilize yourself before you can help others!

Artificial interest rates is what it is.  Though interest rates are lowered for those seeking loans, there is shortage of capital to back itself.

Inflation = increased taxes
Minimum wage and wage increase and price-fixation by government = increased cost of living and everything becomes more expensive

If all is boring just read the first chapter, and the closing chapter (which is hilarious actually).

My friend inspires me to study more.

Simply magnificent

9 05 2012

The more you learn Anatomy, the more you realize there is no way to explain this but to turn to faith. How does God know to create something so intricate and beautiful? How does one know to create a bony labyrinth that looks like a  snail … which helps us to hear and feel equilibrium and balance?

Over the break…

16 04 2012

the coolest thing I did was kill a centipede!

I remembered Dr. Kalliecharan told us once that these are poisonous and the larger ones could cause anaphylactic shock. He mentioned the first time it bit you gives allergic reaction and the second time is a worse response and that one could die.  The centipede looks like a long cockroach of some sort, but it’s not!

I played with babies for a long time and visited family. I still vividly remember my aunt’s cute little pie smiling when I was gently washing his smelly hair (as if he really enjoyed it!). What a cute 1.5 months old! And there was Solera, she’s a handful but the cutest thing I remember her doing was thinking bed time was play time. She wiggled around in bed with her diapered butt up, and squirmed around tossing and turning the blanket to find a comfy position. Then my aunt came in and she put her shorty little leg over my aunt’s neck and just laughed. What a cute 1 year old! Then there’s Emily, she puts her arm out but no one picks her up so she’ll just draw her arms back to her body. What a cute 6 months old!

My grandpa and I, we turned off the main electrical switch and caused a house blackout for some good hour. It was pretty embarrassing since we crashed our uncle and aunty’s place already. But I did value that time very much as grandpa didn’t let us light his holy candles that he displayed on his dresser hehe. This valuable time, little Syler (who’s turning 3) clinged on me because of the dark and wouldn’t get off so we got a chance to bond trust. My other uncle and aunty’s family were there and everyone just sat together in the living room or huddled around the kitchen table.  I’d say sometimes lights out is really a priceless experience. It also breaks your heart when you hear a 2 yr old learn the word “shoes” and says it for the first time correctly as he frantically searches for his pair of shoes so that he could go outside to play.

All of this is truly endearing.

I missed some of my bigger cousins. We met but didn’t appropriately hang out longer. I’ll visit again in the future and hopefully not be obligated to studying. 🙂