Together, it would be hard to imagine an appealing recipe for these three fixings: Soy, pistachios and hops.

But individually, the foodstuffs may hold ingredients that can help control a trio of the most common forms of cancer, according to three new studies released last week

In the most important of these, a major new paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that soy could dramatically decrease the risk of tumour recurrence among breast cancer survivors.

“I would say that this study would indicate that women with breast cancer should (eat) soy products,” says Dr. Xiao Ou Shu, an epidemiologist at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Centre who authored the study. “I think that it shows there is protection there.”

The research, which looked at more than 5,000 breast cancer patients in China, showed a 32 per cent reduction in recurrence of the disease in women who consumed significant amounts of soy.

Meanwhile, papers being presented at the American Association of Cancer Research conference in Houston this week are extolling the virtues of pistachios and hops as potential cancer shields.

Pistachios contain high levels of gamma-tocopherol, a Vitamin E compound that has been shown to lower the risks of developing lung cancer, says Ladia Hernandez, a senior research dietician at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Hernandez says she was searching for foods that would be best at delivering gamma-tocopherol into the blood.

She found a daily intake of about 117 pistachios (about 57 grams) a day on top of a regular diet would produce elevated levels without a corresponding weight gain.