Soy Part 2

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Soy: Miracle or Harmful Part II Just how much soy do Asians eat? In short, not that much, and contrary to what the industry may claim, soy has not ever been a staple in Asia. A study of the history of soy use in Asia shows that the poor used it during times of extreme food shortage, and only when the soybeans were carefully prepared (e.g. by lengthy fermentation) to destroy the soy toxins.

"The soybean contains large quantities of natural toxins or "antinutrients."First among them are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. These inhibitors are large, tightly folded proteins that are not completely deactivated during ordinary cooking. They can produce serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. In test animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors cause enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer. Soybeans also contain haemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. Trypsin inhibitors and haemagglutinin are growth inhibitors." Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig, PhD

Soy is an important crop on American farms, and there is a strong soy lobby. The health claims of the soy industry have one purpose and one purpose alone, to sell more soy! Though scientists have known for years that the isoflavones in soy products are capable of depressing thyroid function and cause goiters in otherwise healthy children and adults. Researchers at Cornell University Medical College said that children who got soy formula were more likely to develop thyroid dis-ease and that twice as many diabetic children had received soy formula in infancy as compared to non-diabetic children. In fact, in other countries such as Switzerland, England, Australia and New Zealand, public health officials recommend highly restricted medically monitored use of soy for babies and for pregnant women. Soy formula is a lifesaver for the 3 to 4 percent of babies allergic to cows milk, though it is so widely advertised that it is sold to 25% of the entire formula market.

Soy also contains a natural estrogen, which is why it is recommended to women at menopause. The president of the Maryland Nutritionists Association, Mary Enig, Ph.D. stated, "The amount of phytoestrogens that are in a days worth of soy infant formula equals five birth control pills." Dr. Enig believes that soy infant formula may be associated with early puberty in girls and slower physical growth in boys. Others say it may affect fertility and normal brain development. reports an ongoing study involving 3,734 elderly Japanese-American men. That research has found that the men who ate the most tofu during mid-life had up to 2.4 times the risk of later developing Alzheimer's dis-ease. Lead researcher Dr. Lon R. White said that men who ate tofu at least twice weekly showed brain aging about five years faster than those who seldom ate tofu. Soy has also been implicated in interference with the absorption of zinc, calcium, and protein enzymes and as a healthy alternative to estrogen amino acids.

Soy is promoted replacement for some women as a way to minimise menopause symptoms, and as a healthier, low-fat protein alternative for meats and poultry. Though what all the constructive stories neglect to mention is that there is a very real, though very overlooked, downside to the heavy or long-term use of soy products. Soy products increase the risk of symptomatic thyroid dis-ease. And this danger is particularly great for infants on soy formula. This is not information that the powerful and profitable United States soy industry wants you to know. The sale of soy products is big business, and the increasing demand for soy protein products, soy powders and soy isoflavone supplements is making that an even more profitable business than ever before.

Supplements that contain concentrated phytoestrogens, plant-based estrogens found in soy, do not appear to improve mood, memory or menopause symptoms in women over age 45. Contrary to popular belief that soy is a health food, evidence reveals that soy consumption has been linked to numerous disorders, including infertility, increased cancer and infantile leukemia, Type1 diabetes, and precocious puberty in children having been fed soy formula. (early maturation, such as breast development and menstruation as early as 6 years of age). Scientists have known for years that the isoflavones in soy products is capable of depressing thyroid function and is a source for goiters in otherwise healthy children and adults. A combined research team of Cornell University Medical College and Long Island Community Hospital medical experts has found that children who develop Type1 diabetes are twice as likely to have been fed soy formulas as those fed all other foods. This confirms concerns based on animal studies raised in the 1980's and 1990s by Health Canada researcher Dr Fraser Scott and led to the American Academy of Pediatrics issuing their warning to pediatricians against any use of soy based formulas.

Researchers Daniel Doerge and Daniel Sheehan, two of the Food and Drug Administration's experts on soy, signed a letter of protest, which points to studies that show a link between soy and health problems in certain animals. The two say they tried in vain to stop the FDA approval of soy because it could be misinterpreted as a broader general endorsement beyond benefits for the heart.

Where the soybean goes wrong?
The constructive aspects of the soybean have been overshadowed by their potential for harm. Soybeans in fact contain a large number of dangerous substances. One among them is phytic acid, also called phytates. This organic acid is present in the bran or hulls of all seeds and legumes, though none have the high level of phytates that soybeans do. These acids block the body's uptake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc. Adding to the high-phytate problem, soybeans are very resistant to phytate-reducing techniques, such as long, slow cooking.

Soybeans also contain potent enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors block uptake of trypsin and other enzymes that the body requirements for protein digestion. Normal cooking does not deactivate these harmful "anti-nutrients," that are capable of causing serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and are capable of leading to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.

Beyond these, soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot promoting substance that brings about red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells are unable to properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body's tissues, and are not capable of assisting in maintaining beneficial cardiac health. Hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors are both "growth depressant" substances. Although the act of fermenting soybeans does deactivate both trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinin, precipitation and cooking do not. Even though these enzyme inhibitors are reduced in levels within precipitated soy products like tofu, they are not altogether eliminated.

Benefits of Soy Products
Soy products have been a part of the standard diet in China, Japan, Indonesia, and other countries for centuries. In these countries, it is known from personal experience that soy products are capable of playing an important role in dis-ease prevention.

Dangers of Soy Products
A number of recent articles have been published about potential dangers of soy. A person who occasionally ingests traditionally processed soy products (miso, tempah, natto, tofu) and otherwise has a balanced, healthy diet and lifestyle will not have to be overly concerned with the potential dangers of soy. However, those who eat soy regularly, especially products with heavily processed or genetically manipulated soy ingredients ought to pay close attention to the issues relating to the potential dangers of soy products.


WARNING: The information on this website is presented for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional.

Soy, and most soy-based products, are considered to be nutritional powerhouses. Soybeans are considered to be the only plant food that has all of the essential amino acids your body requires, making it a complete protein. Soy foods do not have any cholesterol, and most are high in fiber. Soy also has many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical compounds (such as isoflavones) that work together to create numerous health benefits. Research shows that a daily intake of at least 25 grams of soy protein and 30-50 milligrams of isoflavones are capable of improving and safeguard your physical health. This is the equivalent of 1-2 servings of soy foods a day. Here is a list of 6 ways that the properties of soy and how they are perceived to completely affect you.

1. Soy's protein and isoflavones lower LDL (the unhealthy) cholesterol and decrease blood clotting (thrombosis), which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

2. Soy's protein and isoflavones provide antioxidants, reduce artery clogging plaque, improve blood pressure and promote healthy blood vessels, which protects the body from free radical damage, boosts the immune system, and lowers the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart dis-ease, and hypertension (high blood pressure).

3. Soy's soluble fiber protects the physical body from many digestive related cancers, such as colon and rectal cancer. While its isoflavones may protect the body from many hormone-related cancers, such as breast, endometrial (uterine) and prostate cancer.

4. Soy's protein enhances the body's ability to retain and enhance the absorb of calcium in the bones. While its isoflavones slow bone loss and inhibit bone breakdown, which assist in preventing osteoporosis.

5. Soy's isoflavones assist the body to regulate estrogen when this hormone is declining or fluctuating, which assist to alleviate many menopausal and PMS symptoms.

6. Soy's protein and soluble fiber help regulate glucose levels and kidney filtration, which helps control diabetic conditions and kidney dis-ease.

"Some scientists are concerned that too much soy could promote the growth of malignant tumors rather than protect against them."

Soy protein is the world's least expensive source of protein and therefore has the most potential to feed the world, according to Jeff Rosichan, Novartis's global coordinator of biotechnology. One acre of land planted with soybeans and converted to soy protein will sustain a person 2,234 days. The same acre planted with wheat will sustain a person 877 days. And if the acre crop is used to feed cattle, the beef will sustain a person 77 days.

By 1966 there was a considerable amount of research on the harmful substances within soybeans. Though today one would perceive of it as being difficult to find articles that claim soy is anything short of a perceived miracle-food. Though only a few decades ago, the soybean was considered unfit to eat, even in Asia.

The soybean did not serve as a food until the discovery of fermentation techniques, some time during the Chou Dynasty. The first soy foods were fermented products such as tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce.

In the Chou Dynasty (1134-246 BC) the soybean was designated as one of the five sacred grains, along with barley, wheat, millet and rice. However, the pictograph for the soybean, which dates from earlier times, indicates that it was not first used as a food; for whereas the pictographs for the other four grains show the seed and stem structure of the plant, the pictograph for the soybean emphasises the root structure.

At a later date, possibly in the 2nd century BCE, Chinese scientists discovered that a puree of cooked soybeans were capable of being precipitated with calcium sulfate or magnesium sulfate (plaster of Paris or Epsom salts) to make a smooth, pale curd, tofu or bean curd. The use of fermented and precipitated soy products soon spread to other parts of the Orient, notably Japan and Indonesia. Just for the reason that tofu is of vegetable origin does not make it healthy.

The Chinese did not eat unfermented soybeans as they did other legumes such as lentils for the reason that the soybean contains large quantities of natural toxins or "antinutrients". First among them are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes required for protein digestion.

Although soybean products have been consumed in some parts of Asia for many hundreds of years
(1) they did not form a significant part of the diet
(2) the traditional soybean was quite different to the soybean as humans know it today.

Glycine soja, the wild soybean, is found in northern, north-eastern and central China, adjacent areas of the former USSR, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Glycine soja is the species of soybean that was consumed traditionally and is the ancestor of the modern cultivar, Glycine max

Now a considerable percentage of the Earth's population is undernourished or outright starving. For many years, proteins, preferably from animal sources, have been considered to be the clearest and most acceptable source of nutrients. However, humanity also knows that it takes some 16 pounds of grains, fed to cows, to produce one pound of meat. See Obesity - A Worldwide Epidemic.

For this reason, much attention has been focused on the soybean, a widely grown legume that fulfills both the requirement for a high protein food and a widely publicised health advantage: it is considered to be low in fat and devoid of cholesterol! This ought to make it an ideal food, though many are now asking, is it safe?

Soybeans came to the world from the Orient. Originally, the Chinese used it for crop rotation, not as food, for the reason that they knew of potentially harmful nature. They knew that soy had to be properly prepared (i.e., fermented) in order to be considered a "safe" food. Then and only then were the health wonders of the soy bean ready for use in the human body in a healthy way. (That they KNEW the true nature about soy, and so many other foods, is quite incredible considering the level of technology they had. They used their innate intelligence, and of course, experience. When something was not working, they admitted it.)

Today many users and producers of soy defend it with the claim that the Asians eat so much of it and the are healthy.

Though, Asians do not eat that much soy, contrary to what the industry may claim soy has not ever been a staple in Asia. A study of the history of soy use in Asia shows that the poor used it during times of extreme food shortage, and only then the soybeans were carefully prepared (e.g. by lengthy fermentation) to destroy the soy toxins.

Just how much soy do Asians eat? A 1998 survey found that the average daily amount of soy protein consumed in Japan was about eight grams for men and seven for women, less than two teaspoons. The famous Cornell China Study, conducted by Colin T. Campbell, found that legume consumption in China varied from 0 to 58 grams per day, with a mean of about twelve.

Many vegetarians in the USA, and Europe and Australia would think nothing of consuming 8 ounces (about 220 grams) of tofu and a couple of glasses of soy milk per day, two or three times a week. Though this is well in excess of what Asians typically consume; they generally use small portions of soy to complement their meal.

All food additives not in common use prior to 1958, including casein protein from milk, are required to have GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status. In 1972, the Nixon administration directed a re-examination of substances believed to be GRAS, in the light of any scientific information then available.

This re-examination included casein protein that became codified as GRAS in 1978. In 1974, the FDA obtained a literature review of soy protein for the reason that, as soy protein had not been used in food until 1959 and was not even in common use in the early 1970s, it was not eligible to have its GRAS status grandfathered under the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

The FDA was more concerned with toxins formed during processing, specifically nitrites and lysinoalanine.Even at low levels of consumption - averaging one-third of a gram per day at the time, the presence of these carcinogens was considered too great a threat to public health to allow GRAS status. Soy protein did have approval for use as a binder in cardboard boxes, and this approval was allowed to continue, as researchers considered that migration of nitrites from the box into the food contents would be too small to constitute a cancer risk. FDA officials called for safety specifications and monitoring procedures before granting of GRAS status for food.

These were not ever performed. To this day, use of soy protein is codified as GRAS only for this limited industrial use as a cardboard binder. This means that soy protein is required to be subject to premarket approval procedures each time manufacturers intend to use it as a food or add it to a food.

A key argument in DuPont's Protein Technologies International (PTI) recently approved health claim was that soy protein was a GRAS foodstuff and that were no risks associated with the daily consumption of between 25 g and 100g of soy protein.

A high estrogenic environment in utero may increase subsequent breast cancer risk. It was therefore determined whether a maternal exposure during pregnancy to the phytoestrogen genistein, which exhibit estrogenic activities in vitro and in vivo, alters breast cancer risk among female offspring.

The results indicate that in utero exposure to genistein, dose-dependently increased the incidence of breast tumors, when compared with the controls. The number of estrogen receptor binding sites was significantly elevated in the mammary glands of genistein offspring.

It is a clear fact that the FDA has not ever granted soy protein GRAS status and the very real risks associated with consuming soy protein have largely been ignored, firstly by PTI and, now, by the FDA. These risks relate to exposures to isoflavones and nitrosamines that will occur on daily exposure to soy protein. PTI also claims that the "FDA has recognised soy protein products as having GRAS status" and argue that the reason soy protein is not listed as GRAS is because "it is impractical for FDA to list all substances that are GRAS for their intended use."

Truly, Americans are the first peoples to be eating soy in a wholly improperly prepared, unhealthy state, and they are paying for it with their health. So how did this happen? Well, one of the perceived problems is that there is so much conflicting confusing information floating around. Every time something new comes out, all the "mis-informationists" get out there propaganda machines and go to work. You hear one day that the egg is a adverse thing. The next day we hear that it is beneficial. Is fat beneficial or adverse? How much protein ought ot you partake of? The opinions are wildy varied to these matters, and many others. So, who you believe?

A clear truth is that soy beans have large numbers of harmful substances that are capable of harming health. For instance, soybeans have enzyme inhibitors which block action of trypsin, and other enzymes, required for protein digestion. When proteins are not properly prepared, allergies are capable of developing, what are referred to as "leaky guts" are also capable of forming, and many other health problems are capable of arising. Further, these "anti-nutrient" are not completely deactivated during ordinary cooking and are capable of producing not just reduced protein digestion, though also serious gastric distress, and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake, (all of which are serious concerns). Further, soybeans are also super high in phytic acid or phytates (soy is the highest food source of these pernicious substances in fact). Phytic acid is an organic acid which blocks uptake of essential minerals-iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, devastatingly so.

In a vitamin company's brochure it states,"In addition to protecting the heart, soy has demonstrated powerful anticancer benefits...the Japanese, who eat 30 times as much soy as North Americans, have a lower incidence of cancers of the breast, uterus and prostate."

Indeed this is a clear statement, though the Japanese, and Asians in general, have much higher rates of other types of cancer, particularly cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas and liver. Asians throughout the world also have high rates of thyroid cancer. The logic that links low rates of reproductive cancers to soy consumption requires attribution of high rates of thyroid and digestive cancers to the same foods.

Soybeans are also high in phytic acid or phytates. This is an organic acid, present in the bran or hulls of all seeds, which blocks the uptake of essential minerals-calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc-in the intestinal tract. Although not a household word, phytates have been extensively studied. Scientists are in general agreement that grain and legume based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries.

Analysis shows that calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc are present in the plant foods eaten in these areas, but the high phytate content of soy- and grain-based diets prevents their absorption.

Vegetarians who consume tofu and bean curd as a substitute for meat and dairy products risk severe mineral deficiencies. The results of calcium, magnesium and iron deficiency are well known; those of zinc are less so.

Zinc is a key component in numerous vital enzymes and plays a role in the immune system. Phytates found in soy products interfere with zinc absorption more completely than with other minerals. Literature extolling soy products tends to minimize the role of zinc in human physiology, and to gloss over the deleterious effect of diets high in phytic acid.

Only a third of Americans surveyed recently were aware that US supermarkets now carry a wide range of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, according to the September issue of Consumer Reports. Unlike Europe, the United States does not require labeling for genetically engineered foods and ingredients

And unlike Europeans, Americans generally do not appear to be concerned by the foods. Though the technology has caused some scientists to worry about possible perceived negative effects of this gene splicing on other plants and animals. Opponents, spearheaded by environmentalists and organic farmers, caution that some insects might become resistant to the natural pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis, which organic farmers use on their crops.

In addition, some scientists have speculated that genetic engineering is capable of potentially increasing natural toxins or decrease nutrients in some foods. Among environmentalists' concerns are reports that genetically engineered corn might imperil the monarch butterfly and harm other beneficial insects. Consumer Reports also notes that genetically engineered crops are grown on more than one quarter of US cropland, according to recent industry estimates. More than 35% of all corn, 55% of all soybeans, and almost half of all cotton are now genetically engineered.

There are however healthy forms of soy products. The traditional fermented soy products such as miso, natto, and tempeh. The fermenting process greatly decreases the phytate content, as well as enzyme inhibitors. The fermentation process also makes the soy much more easily digestible. Soy taken in these forms is a healthy source.

Soy also contains goitrogens, substances that depress thyroid function. Additionally 99% a very large percentage of soy is genetically modified and it also has one of the highest percentages contamination by pesticides of any of your foods.

Dangers of feeding soy milk to babies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months and then as long after that period as it is mutually desirable. However, that is not always the reality. A study by Yale researchers last year found that most women in underpriveleged populations do not continue breastfeeding after four months because they lack the confidence they will be able to do so and think their infants prefer formula. Of the 64 women who participated in the study, 27% had stopped breastfeeding their infants after one week; 37% after two weeks; 70% after two months, and 89% by four months.

Have you ever heard someone say that 'soy formulas must be safe because Asian infants have been eating soy for centuries'? Soy was seldom used in infant feeding in Asia.

Ernest Tso is credited with the development of the first soymilk diet that was able to sustain an infant for the first eight months of life. Writing in the Chinese Journal of Physiology in 1928, Tso noted that soybean milk is a native food used in certain parts of the country as a morning beverage though it is little used as part of the diet for children. Its nutritive properties as a food for young infants are practically unknown. Dr RA Guy of the Department of Public Health of the Peiping Union Medical College found it 'pertinent to note that we have never found soybean milk naturally used by Peiping women to feed their children.

These figures have special importance due to the recently released study on manganese in infant formula and possible links to behavioural problems in children.

The reason manganese is such a concern is that it is capable of being toxic in very high levels, even though it is essential for life, as it helps cells gather energy. The levels of manganese differ considerably in different infant foods:

  • Breast milk contains 4-6 micrograms per liter (mcg/L)
  • Milk-based infant formula contains about 30-50 mcg/L
  • Some soy formula contain 200-300 mcg/L

Soy protein was introduced into infant formula in the early 1960s. It was a new product with no history of any use at all. As soy protein did not have GRAS status, premarket approval was required. This was not and still has not been granted. The key ingredient of soy infant formula is not recognized as safe.

A study of babies born to vegetarian mothers, published in January 2000, indicated just what those changes in baby’s development might be. Mothers who ate a vegetarian diet during pregnancy had a fivefold greater risk of delivering a boy with hypospadias, a birth defect of the penis. The authors of the study suggested that the cause was greater exposure to phytoestrogens in soy foods popular with vegetarians. Problems with female offspring of vegetarian mothers are more likely to show up later in life. While soy’s estrogenic effect is less than that of diethylstilbestrol (DES), the dose is likely to be higher for the reason that it is consumed as a food, not taken as a drug. Daughters of women who took DES during pregnancy suffered from infertility and cancer when they reached their twenties.

The soy industry recognises that trypsin inhibitors are a problem in infant formula and have spent millions of dollars to determine the best way to remove them. Trypsin inhibitors are large, tightly folded proteins that are only deactivated after a considerable period of heat treatment. This process removes most, though not all, of the trypsin inhibitors, though has the unfortunate side effect of over, denaturing the other proteins in soy, particularly lysine, rendering them difficult to digest and possibly toxic.

Soy formula is also capable of symptomatically causing vitamin deficiencies. Soy increases the body’s requirements for vitamin B12, a nutrient that is absolutely vital for good health. Early studies with soy formula indicated that soy blocks the uptake of fats. This may explain why soy seems to increase the body’s requirements for fat-soluble vitamin D.

Studies on childern show that children given soy formula go through puberty much earlier than children who were not fed soy products for the reason that the phytoestrogens and isoflavones in soy act like a hormone in the body, causing the infant to have hormones like the adult body. A 1994 study done in New Zealand revealed that, depending on age, potency of the product, and feeding methods, infants on soy formula might be consuming the equivalent of up to ten contraceptive pills a day. Phytoestrogens (substance in soy) are now strongly implicated, through research, in thyroid disorders, behavioural and developmental disorders and cancer. Theodore Kay of the Kyoto University Faculty of Medicine noted in 1988 that "thyroid enlargement in rats and humans, especially children and women, fed with soybeans has been known for half a century."

The incidence of soy-formula feeding is greater in the United States than anywhere else in the world. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) publication 'Cancer Incidence and Survival among Children and Adolescents: United States SEER Programme' 1975-1995 has reported that the most prevalent carcinomas in US children and adolescents younger than 20 years were thyroid carcinomas (35.5%); more prevalent than the more publicised melanomas (30.9%). Approximately 75% of the thyroid carcinomas occurred in adolescents aged 15-19 years of age, and NCI note that "the preponderance of thyroid cancer in females suggest that hormonal factors may mediate dis-ease occurrence." Hormonal factors includes agents that affect thyroid hormone status and Soy Online Service believe that soy-formula use in infancy is an hitherto unrecognised risk factor.

Aluminium content of soy formula is 10 times greater than milk based formula, and 100 times greater than unprocessed milk. Aluminium has a toxic effect on the kidneys of infants, and has been implicated as causing Alzheimer’s in adults. Soy formulas lack cholesterol, another nutrient that is absolutely essential for the development of the brain and nervous system; they also lack lactose and galactose, which play an equally important role in the development of the nervous system. A number of other substances, which are unnecessary and of questionable safety, are added to soy formulas including carrageenan, guar gum, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), potassium citrate monohydrate, tricalcium phosphate, dibasic magnesium phosphate trihydrate, BHA and BHT.

An estimated 25% of North American babies receive infant formula made from processed soybeans. Parents use soy formula in the belief that is it healthier than formula based on cows' milk. Soy promotional material claims that soy provides complete protein that is less allergenic than cows' milk protein. When soy infant formula first became commercially available, manufacturers even promised that soy formula was "better than breast milk."

The most serious problem with soy formula is the presence of phytoestrogens or isoflavones. While many claims have been made about the health benefits of these estrogen-like compounds, animal studies indicate that they are powerful endocrine disrupters that alter growth patterns and cause sterility. Toxicologists estimate that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent of at least five birth control pills per day. By contrast, almost no phytoestrogens have been detected in dairy-based infant formula or in human milk, even when the mother consumes soy products. A recent study found that babies fed soy-based formula had 13,000 to 22,0000 times more isoflavones in their blood than babies fed milk-based formula. Scientists have known for years that isoflavones in soy products are capable of depressing thyroid function, causing autoimmune thyroid dis-ease and even cancer of the thyroid. Though what are the effects of soy products on the hormonal development of the infant, both male and female?

Male infants undergo a "testosterone surge" during the first few months of life, when testosterone levels may be as high as those of an adult male. During this period, the infant is programmed to express male characteristics after puberty, not only in the development of his sexual organs and other masculine physical traits, though also in setting patterns in the brain characteristic of male behaviour. Deficiency of male hormones impairs learning and the ability to perform visual discrimination tasks-such as would be required for reading-and retards the development of spatial perception, which is normally more acute in men than in women.

There are an alarming number of girls that are entering puberty much earlier than normal, according to a recent study reported in the journal Pediatrics. Investigators found that one percent of all girls now show signs of puberty, such as breast development or pubic hair, before the age of three; by age eight, 14.7 percent of white girls and a whopping 48.3 percent of black girls had one or both of these characteristics. New data indicate that environmental estrogens such as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of DDT) may cause early sexual development in girls and a study in Puerto Rico implicated soy feeding as a cause of early menarche. The use of soy formula in the WIC program, which supplies free formula to welfare mothers, may explain the astronomical rates of early menarche in black girls.

Other problems that have been anecdotally associated with children of both sexes who were fed soy-based formula include extreme emotional behaviour, asthma, immune system problems, pituitary insufficiency, thyroid disorders and irritable bowel syndrome.

Post menopausal women who eat soy may be at greater risk of osteoporosis.
Researchers have linked soy to an early form of breast cancer!

The public had been told that eating soy is capable of protecting you from developing breast cancer. There is research that declares theis to be actuate! Though, to quote a famous commentator: "Heres the rest of the story!" In one significant study completed in 1996, researchers found that women who ate soy protein had an increased incidence of epithelial hyerplasia, an early form of malignancy. A year later, a chemical found in soy was shown to encourage breast cells to metastasize. Does that mean that soy symptomatically some breast cancers? Researchers are not sure, though until scientists figure it all out, we perceive that it is important for women to know about the potentially serious downsides.

Four leading scientists, two in New Zealand have raised serious concerns about the high levels of phytoestrogen hormones found in soy-based formulas. Measurements of two phytoestrogens, daidzein and genistein in several brands of soy-based formulas available in New Zealand, found intakes by infants to be extremely high. Intakes were two to three times greater than amounts required to disrupt the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women.

Soy phytoestrogens act as antagonists to the naturally occurring oestradiol, inhibiting its activity. Reduced activity of oestradiol may be beneficial to adults, though for infants it is capable of being deleterious. Research has shown that oestradiol is essential in the "imprinting and development of many physical, physiological and behavioural characteristics during the neonatal period and infancy". Also, any decrease in oestradiol activity has been found to be harmful. As yet no research has been done to document the effects of soy-formula feeding on infant characteristics. Rejecting manufacturers claims that soy formulas have been used for many years without side effects, the authors cite the use of diethylstilbestrol (DES), which was prescribed to women for three decades before harmful effects appeared, to highlight their concerns of long term use and effects. The US Food and Drug Administration's Department of Health, wish is perceived of as being conservative stated at a recent conference on phytoestrogens,"given the DES tragedy, it would be foolish to ignore the possibility that some phytoestrogens constitute a developmental hazard".

Traditionally fermented soy products make a delicious, natural seasoning that may supply important nutritional factors in the Asian diet. Though except in times of famine, Asians consume soy products only in small amounts, as condiments, and not as a replacement for animal foods, with one exception. Celibate monks living in monasteries and leading a vegetarian lifestyle find soy foods quite helpful because they dampen libido.

A class action has been started in New Zealand for people who have been damaged by soy.

A Lawsuit was Filed in the city of Mimai in the United States Against Makers of Soy-Based Trilucent Breast Implants; May Cause Toxic Reactions Including Cancer.

One Woman's Story Of Soy Use

This is my true story, nothing altered. These are facts as they relate to my experience, my opinions based on what I have read and felt. I am relating them to warn other young health-conscious women who are unwittingly harming themselves and so that what I went through and what I am going through has some purpose. It would make what I have gone through worth something and not in vain.

In 1989 I graduated from high school in a small town in Texas and couldn’t wait to hit the big college city so I could begin to live my own life. One of the changes I wanted to make was to eat healthier. My family wasn’t big on tofu, yoghurt or fruits. I also didn’t want to gain the freshman 15. Once I moved to health-conscious Austin, Texas with its parks, hike and bike trails, and health food stores, I began to fortify my body with the best and healthiest foods I could find. Tofu was the main ingredient in every healthy dish and I bought soy milk almost every day because it was better than milk. I used it for everything from cereal to smoothies or just to drink for a quick snack. I bought soy muffins, miso soup with tofu, soybeans, soybean sprouts, etc. All the literature in all the health and fitness magazines said that soy protected you against everything from heart disease to breast cancer. It was the magical isoflavones, it was the estrogen-like hormones that all worked to help you stay young and healthy

But I wasn’t that healthy. I looked great, I was working out all the time, but my menstrual cycle was off. At 20 I started taking birth control pills to regulate my menstrual cycle. One brand would work for a few months but then I would become irregular again. The doctors kept switching the brands and assuring me that I’d find the one that would work. In addition to this I began to suffer from painful periods. I began to get puffy—not fat, I wasn’t gaining weight, just getting rounder. It was as though I was losing my muscle tone. I wasn’t looking as good as I had before, despite all my exercising. I began to suffer from fits of depression and get hot flashes. I mistook all this for PMS since my periods were irregular. I had no way of knowing when I was going to begin my period.

Now, I had started using soy when I was 19. The onset of these problems quickly began at 20. By the time I was 25 my periods were so bad I couldn’t walk. The birth control pills never made them regular or less painful so I decided to stop taking them. I went on like this for another two years until I realized my pain wasn’t normal. In 1998, when I was 27 years old, my gynecologist found two cysts in my uterus. Both were the size of tennis balls. I was scared to death! I went through surgery to have them removed and thank God they were benign. The gynecologist told me to go back on birth control pills. I didn’t. In 1998 he discovered a lump in my breast. Again I went through surgery and again it was benign.

It was in November, 2000 that my glands swelled up and my gums became inflamed. Thinking I had a tooth infection I went to the dentist who told me that my teeth were not the problem. After a dose of antibiotics the swelling still did not go down. At this point I could feel a tiny nodule on the right side of my neck. No one else could feel it. I told my mother I had thyroid trouble. This was based only on a hunch. She, along with others in my family, said I was being silly. No one in the family suffered from thyroid trouble. "What’s a thyroid?" was what my friends would say.

Going on a hunch I saw a specialist who diagnosed me with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. After a series of tests he told me it was cancer. My fiance and I sat stunned. I was dreading another operation but so far every lump had been benign. We were not prepared and I was so scared. We scheduled surgery right away. The specialist told us that it would only be after the operation that a pathologist would be able to tell us for sure if it was cancer. They found a tumor on my right lobe composed of irregular cells and another smaller tumor growing on the left, so the entire thyroid was removed. No harm was done to my vocal chords, no harm to my parathyroids but I now had an ugly scar and would be dependent on thyroid hormones the rest of my life. They told me that after undergoing radioactive iodine I would be safe and assured me that I could live a long life.

After treatment I began to search for the cause of all these problems. An x-ray I had done at age 8 was under suspicion, as was stress, everything got blamed on stress, genes, maybe that time I tried to smoke a cigarette (I was never a smoker but tried once), maybe that summer when I was 25 and began to drink vodka and try mixed drinks ( I was never one for alcohol but wanted to know what the hype was about). I began to look for esoteric reasons like not being spiritual enough. I never once thought it could be all the soy I had consumed for nearly ten years. After all, soy is healthy. I never drank soft drinks, and even when I was under excruciating pain, never took aspirin or headache medications. Maybe it was birth control pills.

I came upon a web page that linked thyroid problems to soy intake and the conspiracy of soy marketed as a health food when in fact it is only a toxic by-product of the vegetable oil industry. This was insane, I thought. After all, the health and fitness magazines had said nothing about soy being harmful. I visited an herbalist who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1985. She informed me that soy was the culprit. She was a health-conscious individual who in her twenties fortified her diet with soy. A few years after that she had to have a hysterectomy due to cysts and other uterine problems. A few months later another acquaintance who had consumed soy came down with thyroid cancer. She was 27. A girl in England I met through the internet in a thyroid cancer forum had just undergone surgery and she was only 19. What was going on???? The research said that thyroid cancer was more common in older women, age 50 or older. It was said to be genetic or the result of nuclear fallout like in Chernobyl.

Today I found out that yet another acquaintance, another health-conscious individual, just found out she has thyroid cancer and she is 29. I got on the internet and found breast cancer linked to the radioactive iodine given during treatment. This didn’t seem true. As fearful as I am of anything nuclear, the treatment has been given for over 150 years. Breast cancer is linked to estrogen. What mimics estrogen in the female body? SOY! I am not a scientist nor a doctor but I know my body. I knew that there were changes going on and I did search for clues as to why, but I never suspected soy because until now I never once found a single article that stated soy could be dangerous. Evening primrose oil I heard taken in large amounts, vitamin A, C and E can make tumors grow if taken in large dosages, MSG, even tuna is harmful but never once SOY. Women who took soy prior to thyroid problems will continue to take it after if they are not aware of what soy actually does, what it contains and how it reacts in the female body. I think this is the reason that women with thyroid cancer often develop breast cancer later.

Now it all makes sense. If you trace the problems I have had, they are all related to hormones. Taking birth control pills I believe only added more hormones to my body that I didn’t need. I believe it was the fruit, no smoking, no drinking, exercise and veggies that kept my first surgeries benign. I wasn’t as lucky the last time.

My co-worker is big into soy and I see her losing hair and gaining weight despite a walking workout during her break and after work, and apples and oranges for lunch. She just had cysts removed from her uterus too. I warn her to stay off the soy. I refer her to websites but until it is on the evening news on all four networks, women will suffer. I say what I can but at the Christmas potluck every dish contained soy in one form or another. It's now the staple of the new American diet—eat right, eat for health, eat to ward off cancer, AND IT'S SOY!

Back in 1994 I did have my thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) checked, again on a hunch. I was suffering from lethargic days, fits of depression, feeling off, and mild digestive problems. My TSH was a 6. A good physician, taking into account my symptoms, would have explored this. We are not always blessed with good physicians. Many don’t know what a thyroid gland is, what it does or even where it is, and they miss important signs.

By the way, today I have normal periods even though I am not on birth control pills and even though I have had to change my dosage of thyroid hormone since the thyroidectomy. I do not touch soy, haven’t for two years.

The March 1999 issue of Natural Health magazine has a feature on soy that quotes Daniel R. Doerge, Ph.D., a researcher at the Food and Drug Aministration's National Center for Toxicological Research. Dr. Doerge has researched soy's anti-thyroid properties, and has said "...I see substantial risks from taking soy supplements or eating huge amounts of soyfoods for their putative dis-ease preventive value. There is definitely potential for interaction with the thyroid."

One UK study of premenopausal women gave 60 grams of soy protein per day for one month. This was found to disrupt the menstrual cycle, with the effects of the isoflavones continuing for a full three months after stopping the soy in the diet. Isoflavones are also known to modify fertility and change sex hormone status. Isoflavones have been shown to have serious health effects, including infertility, thyroid disease or liver dis-ease, on a number of mammals.

Dr. Fitzpatrick believes that people with hypothyroidism ought to avoid soy products, for the reason that, "any inhibition of TPO will clearly work against anyone trying to correct an hypothyroid state." In addition, he believes that the current promotion of soy as a health food will result in an increase in thyroid disorders.

There is also new research which indicates that soybeans and soy-based foods, may promote kidney stones in those prone to the painful condition.

The researchers measured nearly a dozen varieties of soybeans for oxalate, a compound that are capable of binding with calcium in the kidney to form kidney stones.

They also tested 13 types of soy-based foods, finding enough oxalate in each to potentially cause problems for people with a history of kidney stones, according to Linda Massey, Ph.D., at Washington State University in Spokane.

The amount of oxalate in the commercial products easily eclipsed the American Dietetic Association's 10 milligram-per-serving recommendation for patients with kidney stones, with some foods reaching up to 50 times higher than the suggested limit, she noted.

During their testing, the researchers found the highest oxalate levels in textured soy protein, which contains up to 638 milligrams of oxalate per 85-gram serving.

Oxalate, however, is not capable of being metabolized by the body and is excreted only through urine, Massey said. The compound has no nutritional value, though binds to calcium to form a mass (kidney stones) that is capable of blocking the urinary system, she said.

Soy and Thyroid problems

More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with thyroid dis-ease, and another 13 million people are estimated to have undiagnosed thyroid problems in the U.S. alone. Frequently misunderstood, and far too often overlooked and misdiagnosed, thyroid dis-ease is capable of affecting almost every aspect of health, so understanding more about the thyroid, and the symptoms that occur when something happens with this small gland, is capable of assisting in protecting or regain beneficial health.

There are some things you are capable of doing to reduce your chance of thyroid problems.

1) Be careful about too much soy. Excessive soy isoflavones may trigger or aggravate hypothyroidism, goiter or nodules. Some doctors advise avoiding soy supplements and powders and eating no more than one small serving of soy foods daily.
2) Do not feed infants soy-based formulas. There is evidence that this is capable of contributing to later risk of thyroid dis-ease.
3) Drink bottled water. Fluoride in water, and a rocket fuel manufacturing by-product known as perchlorate, are substances in water that may trigger or aggravate the risk of thyroid problems.
4) When it comes to iodine, think moderation. Too little or too much iodine, including taken as kelp or bladderwrack, is capable of increasing your risk of hypothyroidism or goiter.
5) Stop smoking. Smoking is capable of damaging the thyroid, and may aggravate some existing thyroid conditions.
6) Reduce your stress. Reducing stress using effective mind-body techniques is capable of playing a part in preventing thyroid dis-ease.
7) Begin a healthy diet, exercise, proper nutrition, and stress reduction are capable of all minimise the chance of developing thyroid dis-ease.

Soy's effect on thyroid was first noticed when hypothyroid babies given soy formula became more severely hypothyroid. They were unable to overcome the anti-thyroid effects of soy. A report to this effect appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1960. Since then many other small studies have confirmed that soy is a goitrogen, a substance that can cause enlarged thyroid (goiter). Soy is listed as a goitrogen in many nutrition books including "Super Nutrition for Menopause" by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD. Endocrinologists (thyroid specialists) are frequently unaware of the potential anti-thyroid effects of soy on hypothyroid women who are in menopause and are often eating a lot of soy or popping soy isoflavone capsules to ward off hot flashes.

In a 18 February 1999 official letter of protest to the FDA, Doerge and Daniel Sheehan, who at that time were the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) two key experts on soy, protested the health claims approved by the FDA on soy products, stating:

"there is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavones found in soy, including genistein and equol, a metabolize of daidzen, demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid. This is true for a number of species, including humans. Additionally, isoflavones are inhibitors of the thyroid peroxidase which makes T3 and T4. Inhibition can be expected to generate thyroid abnormalities, including goiter and autoimmune thyroiditis. There exists a significant body of animal data that demonstrates goitrogenic and even carcinogenic effects of soy products. Moreover, there are significant reports of goitrogenic effects from soy consumption in human infants and adults."

The Colorado Thyroid Dis-ease Prevalence Study provides perceived disturbing evidence that the general population in the US is on the brink of an epidemic of thyroid dis-ease and Soy Online Service believes that the increased use of soy products is to blame:

The statistics on thyroid dis-ease in the US also communicates a disturbing tale. Since 1990 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cancer statistics show that the overall thyroid cancer incidence, across all ages and races in the United States, has been subject to a statistically significant annual increase (1.4 % per annum). That increase was highest amongst females (1.6 % per annum). Also worth note is the fact that between 1975 and 1996 the incidence of thyroid cancer has risen 42.1% in the United States. This increase was particularly notable in women and most recent figures (1996) show that the incidence of thyroid cancer has climbed to 8.0 per 100,000.

Protein Requirements for Humans.
The basic premise is that the four blood types (O, A, B, AB) evolved at different points in history and are thus best suited to the lifestyles prevalent at those times. The four blood types have varying nutritional & exercise requirements, pre-dispositions to different types of illnesses and react differently to various foods.

This way of eating allows for people's varied requirements and explains anomalies such as :

  • why some people thrive on a vegetarian diet, while others feel lethargic and unwell
  • why high protein diets cause some people to lose weight and some to put it on
  • why Ayurvedic medicine declares that milk is very beneficial (it is for blood type B), while most people are intolerant of dairy products

There are 4 known blood types among all the people of our planet: A, B, AB and O. Type O is considered the oldest, Type A the latest to appear in the world's history. Type A is considered to fare healthier on a grain-based diet than Type O. Type O is considered to fare healthier on a diet that includes more meat.

This theory is based on the idea that certain foods cause allergic reactions and even agglutination of blood cells, due to reactions to various foods, and specifically proteins in different foods that the body treats as foreign antigens, much like the an immune system response to antigens (proteins) present in bacteria and viruses. We are therefore advised to eat foods which are compatible with our blood type for optimal health.

How Much Soy is Safe? According to the Soy Online Service, for infants, any soy is too much. For adults, just 30 mg of soy isoflavones per day is the amount found to have a perceived negative impact on thyroid function. This amount of soy isoflavones is found in just 5-8 ounces of soy milk, or 1.5 ounces of miso.

The USDA has launched a website that is promoting the health benefits of use of soy and soy foods. The USDA site lists the isoflavone content of a total of 128 foods, including foods such as vegetarian hot dogs soybeans, chickpeas and tofu. This is capable of assisting you in deciding how much soy to include in your diet.

Scientists Concerned Over Potential Health Risks
A 20/20 investigation has found that amid all of this praise, some scientists are now challenging this popular wisdom, and suggesting there may be a downside to this "miracle food."

“The safety issues are largely unanswered,” says Daniel Doerge, a research scientist for the Food and Drug Administration and an expert on soy.

New studies have raised questions over whether the natural ingredients in soy might increase the risk of breast cancer in some women, affect brain function in men and lead to hidden developmental abnormalities in infants.

This unresolved scientific debate continues to develop. Just last October, soy enjoyed a huge boost when the FDA issued a health claim, concluding that soy may lower both cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

But two of the FDA's experts on soy — Doerge and his colleague, Daniel Sheehan — have stepped forward to criticize their own agency’s claim and even attempted in vain to stop the recommendation. Their main concern: that the claim could be misinterpreted as a much broader endorsement for soy protein, beyond benefits solely for the heart.

Signing a highly unusual letter of protest to their employer, Doerge and Sheehan pointed to research that demonstrates a link between soy and fertility problems in certain animals.

“The animal data is a clear indication for adverse effects, the potential for adverse effects in humans,” Doerge says to 20/20.

Debate Over Soy Infant Formula

The core of their concern rests with the chemical make-up of soy: in addition to all the nutrients and protein, exists a natural chemical that mimics estrogen, the female hormone. Some studies in animals show that this chemical can alter sexual development. And in fact, two glasses of soy milk a day, over the course of a month, contains enough of the chemical to change the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

“We are doing a large uncontrolled and unmonitored experiment on human infants,” Sheehan says. “We’re exposing infants to the chemicals in soy infant formula that are known to have adverse effects in experimental animals, and we have never looked in the human population to see if they have adverse effects.”

The infant formula industry, along with some scientists, have blasted this criticism of soy, calling it "scientifically unjustified claims that could unduly frighten thousands of parents."

Kenneth Setchell, a pediatrics professor at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati and a leading advocate of soy, contends that scientific studies on soy show promise in fighting a number of dis-eases and that adverse effects seen in animals do not apply to humans.

"There have been literally hundreds of thousands of infants that have been raised on those soy formulas,” Setchell says to 20/20. “Some of those infants would be well into their late 30s, early 40s now. And you know, I don’t see evidence of tremendous numbers of cases where there are abnormalities."

The debate over soy formula for infants poses a major issue throughout the country. Soy infant formula is an undeniable lifesaver for the 3 to 4 percent of babies who are allergic to or can not digest cow’s milk. However, heavy marketing of soy infant formula has led to its much wider use, extending well beyond just those infants who are allergic to 25 percent of the entire formula market.

"My careful and considered professional opinion is that it makes more sense not to needlessly expose your baby to these compounds," says Dr. Claude Hughes, director of the Women's Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He adds that while breast-feeding is preferred, mothers who don’t breast-feed should use a milk-based formula and choose soy as a last resort.

Other Health Concerns

Aside from his concerns about soy's health effects on infants, Hughes has also raised potentially more serious questions about soy and breast cancer. In some cases, soy is thought to protect against breast cancer. But some studies now indicate, for other women, the chemicals found in soy may enhance a widely found kind of estrogen-feeding breast cancer.

"It can speed up divisions of those cells that are already cancer cells that depend on estrogen for their growth," Hughes tells 20/20.

The multibillion dollar soy industry has insisted that the health benefits of soy significantly outweigh any potential risk.

Soy — consumed in the form of tofu — may have a connection to accelerated aging in the brain, according to a three decade-long study begun by the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Lon White of National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that he found greater brain aging and shrinkage among elderly men — all Japanese-American and living in Hawaii — who had eaten tofu at least twice a week during middle age.

"Their brains, looking at them in terms of how their brain functions, memory cognition, their brains seemed to be showing an exaggeration of the usual patterns we see in aging," White says.

The soy industry countered that White’s study only shows an association between tofu consumption and brain aging, does not prove cause and effect and is in conflict with research on Asian populations and animals.

While the scientific research on soy is still emerging and is often contradictory, there are now some serious questions being raised about this miracle food, and some of its staunchest defenders acknowledge that these questions need to be answered.

Here is a list of the deemed "dark side" of using soy:

  • Soy products increase the risk of thyroid dis-ease. And this danger is particularly great for infants on soy formula
  • Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, an environmental scientist and pytoestrogen researcher makes it clear that soy products are capable of having a detrimental effect on both adults and infants
  • High consumption of soy products are also proven to cause goiter
  • Soy products contain isoflavones which are considered to by endocrine disruptors.
  • In soy the isoflavones are built in insecticides
  • Daniel R. Doerge, Ph.D., says, "I see substantial risks from taking soy supplements or eating huge amounts of soyfoods for their putative disease preventive value."
  • Not much is being done in the U.S. to make parents aware of the thyroid-related dangers of soy formulas, or to alert the public that heavy soy consumption may be a danger to thyroid function
  • According to the Soy Online Service, for infants, any soy is too much. For adults, just 30 mg of soy isoflavones per day is the amount found to have a perceived negative impact on thyroid function
  • Kills testicular tissue. In men it permanently reduces testicular function and lowers
  • Female children fed the estrogens in soy formula and products hit puberty very very early sometimes as young as age 6 to 8!
  • A 7000 man 30 year epidemiological study done in Hawaii shows soy is connected with a higher rate of Vascular Dementia (Alzheimer's disease).
  • The phytoestrogens in soy disrupt endocrine function. They have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women. They are especially harmful to children: feeding infants soy formula is roughly equivalent to giving them five birth control pills daily.
  • A study from Cornell University, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1986, which found that children who develop diabetes mellitus were twice as likely to have been fed soy.

For more information on soy products, see:
  • Information on soy foods and soy formula:
  • Guide to Soy Isoflavones Soy to the World:
  • Soy Information, Products & Recipes:
  • How safe is Soy Infant Formula
  • Scientists Protest Soy Approval


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