The Hidden Risks Of Soy

You thought the soy protein you just added to your daily routine was healthy … but have you thought wrong?

Can excess soy consumption cause high estrogen levels and health problems in men and women?  Let’s try and get to the bottom of this debate …

A recent post on men’s fitness addresses the ‘urban myth’ of soy consumption and ‘man boobs’.  According to ‘Dr. Steve’, the author of the article, excess soy consumption causing gynomastia (the medical term for man boobs) is very rare - the only medically documented case came from a man who was consuming 3/4 a
gallon a day of soy milk.

On the other hand, just because it doesn’t cause man titties doesn’t mean that it doesn’t effect estrogen levels. And this could have harmful effects to both men and women.

Another article from Dr. Lam on would dispute the above evidence.  To quote Dr. Lam:

“The soy isoflavone genistein and daidzein are similar to 17 beta-estradiols, but are 100,000 times weaker in estrogenic activity and are therefore weak estrogens. Although these isoflavones are weak estrogens, people who eat a lot of it can have their blood level of isoflavones as mush as 10,000 times higher than those who do not consume soy. Over time, high concentrations of isoflavones in the body can have a significant cumulative estrogenic and toxic effect, especially when they are exposed to organs that have sensitive estrogen receptors sites such as the breast, uterus, and thyroid.”

Additionally, according to, just 2 glasses of soy milk/day, over the course of one month, contains enough of the chemical (those mentioned above) to change the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

There are also accusations of sinister motives on the part of those who grow, market and defend soy.  The amount of food products that contain soy is staggering … have you seen Food, Inc.?

To be fair, there is also plenty of research defending soy.  For example, sites the following story:

” … according to new research from three institutions–Cancer Research UK, based in London; the National University of Singapore; and the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland–soy could help reduce a woman’s odds of developing breast cancer.

The scientists analyzed the results from two previous studies carried out in Singapore: one that researched women’s diets and another that analyzed breast tissue density.

In the researchers’ news release, women who ate the most soy were 60 percent less likely to have the high-risk breast tissue than women who consumed the least soy.

The researchers believe that the benefit could come from a compound in soy called isoflavone, which mimics the action of the female hormone estrogen.”

So what to do?

My take is this: why risk it?  It looks like the jury is still out on soy products.  This might not be great news for you vegetarians – but I think there are still other, healthier protein options to consider.

What’s your take on the soy debate?

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