Things people should know about.
THINGS PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT!!!
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Soy foods 'reduce sperm numbers'
Soy products contain chemicals mimicking female hormones
A regular diet of even modest amounts of food containing soy may halve sperm concentrations, suggest scientists.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, found 41 million fewer sperm per millilitre of semen after just one portion every two days.
The authors said plant oestrogens in foods such as tofu, soy mince or milk may interfere with hormonal signals.
However, a UK expert stressed that most men in Asia eat more soy-based products with no fertility problems.
Oestrogenic compounds in food or the environment have been of concern for a number of years, but we have mostly thought that it was boys exposed in the uterus before birth who were most at risk
Animal studies have suggested that large quantities of soy chemicals in food could affect fertility, but other studies looking at consumption in humans have had contradictory findings.
The Harvard School of Public Health study looked at the diets of 99 men who had attended a fertility clinic with their partners and provided a semen sample.
The men were divided into four groups depending on how much soy they ate, and when the sperm concentration of men eating the most soy was compared with those eating the least, there was a significant difference.
The "normal" sperm concentration for a man is between 80 and 120 million per millilitre, and the average of men who ate on average a portion of soy-based food every other day was 41 million fewer.
Dr Jorge Chavarro, who led the study, said that chemicals called isoflavones in the soy might be affecting sperm production.
These chemicals can have similar effects to the human hormone oestrogen.
Dr Chavarro noticed that overweight or obese men seemed even more prone to this effect, which may reflect the fact that higher levels of body fat can also lead to increased oestrogen production in men.
However, the study pointed out that soy consumption in many parts of Asia was significantly higher than even the maximum found in these volunteers.
Dr Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology from the University of Sheffield, said that if soy genuinely had a detrimental effect on sperm production, fertility might well be affected in those regions, and there was no evidence that this was the case.
"Many men are obviously worried about whether their lifestyle or diet could affect their fertility by lowering their sperm count.
"Oestrogenic compounds in food or the environment have been of concern for a number of years, but we have mostly thought that it was boys exposed in the uterus before birth who were most at risk.
"We will have to look at adult diet more closely, although the fact that such large parts of the world have soy food as a major part of their diet and don't appear to suffer any greater infertility rates than those on western diets suggests that any effect is quite small."
Soy Compounds Affect Brain, Reproductive Development
Newswise Two hormone-like compounds linked to the consumption of soy-based foods can cause irreversible changes in the structure of the brain, resulting in early-onset puberty and symptoms of advanced menopause in research animals, according to a new study by researchers at North Carolina State University. The study is a breakthrough in determining how these compounds can cause reproductive health problems, as well as in providing a key building block for how to treat these problems.
The study is the first to show that the actual physical organization of a region of the brain that is important for female reproduction can be significantly altered by exposure to phytoestrogens or plant-produced chemicals that mimic hormones during development. Specifically, the study finds that the compounds alter the sex-specific organization of the hypothalamus a brain region that is essential to the regulation of puberty and ovulation. The study also shows that the phytoestrogens could cause long-term effects on the female reproductive system.
While the study examined the impact of these compounds on laboratory rats, neurotoxicologist Dr. Heather Patisaul who co-authored the study says the affected “circuitry” of the brain is similar in both rats and humans. Patisaul is an assistant professor in NC State’s Department of Zoology. Her co-author is Heather Bateman, a doctoral student in the department.
Patisaul says this finding is extremely important because, while the changes in brain structure cannot be reversed, “if you understand what is broken, you may be able to treat it.” Patisaul says she is in the process of evaluating the effects of these compounds on the ovaries themselves.
Patisaul says that this study is also “a step towards ascertaining the effects of phytoestrogens on developing fetuses and newborns.” Patisaul adds that these phytoestrogenic compounds cross the placental barrier in humans and that, while many people are concerned about the effects of man-made compounds on human health, it is important to note that some naturally occurring substances can have similar effects.
In the study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Neurotoxicology, the researchers exposed newborn rats to physiologically relevant doses of the phytoestrogens genistein and equol, and then looked at reproductive health markers in the rats throughout their adulthood. The neonatal stage of development in rats is comparable to the latter stages of pregnancy for humans, Patisaul says. Genistein is a phytoestrogen that is found in various plants, including soybeans and soy-based foods. Equol is a hormone-like compound that is formed when bacteria found in the digestive system metabolize another phytoestrogen. However, only approximately a third of humans have the necessary bacteria to produce equol.
The study shows that both genistein and equol result in the early disruption of the rats’ estrus cycle which would be corollary to early onset of menopause in a human. The study also showed that genistein caused the early onset of puberty. The disruption of the estrus cycle could stem from problems with the brain or the ovaries, so the researchers decided to determine if the compounds had any effect on brain development or function.
Patisaul explains that the brains of both female rats and female humans have a region that regulates ovulation. “That part of the brain,” Patisaul says, “is organized by hormones during development which is the neonatal stage for rats and during gestation for humans.” Patisaul says the new study shows that the female brain is “critically sensitive” to genistein and equol during this crucial stage of development and that this may indicate that the brain is also especially sensitive during this period to all phytoestrogens and possibly other man-made chemicals, such as bisphenol-A.
Everything You Didn't Want To Know About Soy!!!
In Unusual Letter, FDA Experts Lay Out Concerns
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. The text of the letter follows.
Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration
National Center For Toxicological Research
Jefferson, Ark. 72079-9502
Daniel M. Sheehan, Ph.D.
Director, Estrogen Base Program
Division of Genetic and Reproductive Toxicology
and Daniel R. Doerge, Ph.D.
Division of Biochemical Toxicology
Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
Rockville, MD 20852
To whom it may concern,
We are writing in reference to Docket # 98P-0683; "Food Labeling: Health Claims; Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease." We oppose this health claim because 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, the adverse effects in humans occur in several tissues and, apparently, by several distinct mechanisms.
Genistein is clearly estrogenic; it possesses the chemical structural features necessary for estrogenic activity (; Sheehan and Medlock, 1995; Tong, et al, 1997; Miksicek, 1998) and induces estrogenic responses in developing and adult animals and in adult humans.
In rodents, equol is estrogenic and acts as an estrogenic endocrine disruptor during development (Medlock, et al, 1995a,b). Faber and Hughes (1993) showed alterations in LH regulation following developmental treatment with genistein.
Thus, during pregnancy in humans, isoflavones per se could be a risk factor for abnormal brain and reproductive tract development.
Furthermore, pregnant Rhesus monkeys fed genistein had serum estradiol levels 50- 100 percent higher than the controls in three different areas of the maternal circulation (Harrison, et al, 1998). Given that the Rhesus monkey is the best experimental model for humans, and that a women's own estrogens are a very significant risk factor for breast cancer, it is unreasonable to approve the health claim until complete safety studies of soy protein are conducted.
Of equally grave concern is the finding that the fetuses of genistein fed monkeys had a 70 percent higher serum estradiol level than did the controls (Harrison, et al, 1998). Development is recognized as the most sensitive life stage for estrogen toxicity because of the indisputable evidence of a very wide variety of frank malformations and serious functional deficits in experimental animals and humans.
In the human population, DES exposure stands as a prime example of adverse estrogenic effects during development. About 50 percent of the female offspring and a smaller fraction of male offspring displayed one or more malformations in the reproductive tract, as well as a lower prevalence (about 1 in a thousand) of malignancies. In adults, genistein could be a risk factor for a number of estrogen-associated diseases.
Even without the evidence of elevated serum estradiol levels in Rhesus fetuses, potency and dose differences between DES and the soy isoflavones do not provide any assurance that the soy protein isoflavones per se will be without adverse effects.
First, calculations, based on the literature, show that doses of soy protein isoflavones used in clinical trials which demonstrated estrogenic effects were as potent as low but active doses of DES in Rhesus monkeys (Sheehan, unpublished data).
Second, we have recently shown that estradiol shows no threshold in an extremely large dose-response experiment (Sheehan, et al, 1999), and we subsequently have found 31 dose-response curves for hormone-mimicking chemicals that also fail to show a threshold (Sheehan, 1998a).
Our conclusions are that no dose is without risk; the extent of risk is simply a function of dose. These two features support and extend the conclusion that it is inappropriate to allow health claims for soy protein isolate.
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 (cf., Kimura et al., 1976).
Moreover, there are significant reports of goitrogenic effects from soy consumption in human infants (cf., Van Wyk et al., 1959; Hydovitz, 1960; Shepard et al., 1960; Pinchers et al., 1965; Chorazy et al., 1995) and adults (McCarrison, 1933; Ishizuki, et al., 1991).
Recently, we have identified genistein and daidzein as the goitrogenic isoflavonoid components of soy and defined the mechanisms for inhibition of thyroid peroxidase (TPO)-catalyzed thyroid hormone synthesis in vitro (Divi et al., 1997; Divi et al., 1996).
The observed suicide inactivation of TPO by isoflavones, through covalent binding to TPO, raises the possibility of neoantigen formation and because anti-TPO is the principal autoantibody present in auto immune thyroid disease. This hypothetical mechanism is consistent with the reports of Fort et al. (1986, 1990) of a doubling of risk for autoimmune thyroiditis in children who had received soy formulas as infants compared to infants receiving other forms of milk.
The serum levels of isoflavones in infants receiving soy formula that are about five times higher than in women receiving soy supplements who show menstrual cycle disturbances, including an increased estradiol level in the follicular phase (Setchell, et al, 1997). Assuming a dose-dependent risk, it is unreasonable to assert that the infant findings are irrelevant to adults who may consume smaller amounts of isoflavones.
Additionally, while there is an unambiguous biological effect on menstrual cycle length (Cassidy, et al, 1994), it is unclear whether the soy effects are beneficial or adverse. Furthermore, we need to be concerned about transplacental passage of isoflavones as the DES case has shown us that estrogens can pass the placenta. No such studies have been conducted with genistein in humans or primates.
As all estrogens which have been studied carefully in human populations are two-edged swords in humans (Sheehan and Medlock, 1995; Sheehan, 1997), with both beneficial and adverse effects resulting from the administration of the same estrogen, it is likely that the same characteristic is shared by the isoflavones. The animal data is also consistent with adverse effects in humans.
Finally, initial data from a robust (7,000 men) long-term (30+ years) prospective epidemiological study in Hawaii showed that Alzheimer's disease prevalence in Hawaiian men was similar to European-ancestry Americans and to Japanese (White, et al, 1996a). In contrast, vascular dementia prevalence is similar in Hawaii and Japan and both are higher than in European-ancestry Americans.
This suggests that common ancestry or environmental factors in Japan and Hawaii are responsible for the higher prevalence of vascular dementia in these locations. Subsequently, this same group showed a significant dose-dependent risk (up to 2.4 fold) for development of vascular dementia and brain atrophy from consumption of tofu, a soy product rich in isoflavones (White, et al, 1996b).
This finding is consistent with the environmental causation suggested from the earlier analysis, and provides evidence that soy (tofu) phytoestrogens causes vascular dementia.
Given that estrogens are important for maintenance of brain function in women; that the male brain contains aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estradiol; and that isoflavones inhibit this enzymatic activity (Irvine, 1998), there is a mechanistic basis for the human findings. Given the great difficulty in discerning the relationship between exposures and long latency adverse effects in the human population (Sheehan, 1998b), and the potential mechanistic explanation for the epidemiological findings, this is an important study.
It is one of the more robust, well-designed prospective epidemiological studies generally available. We rarely have such power in human studies, as well as a potential mechanism, and thus the results should be interpreted in this context.
Does the Asian experience provide us with reassurance that isoflavones are safe? A review of several examples lead to the conclusion "Given the parallels with herbal medicines with respect to attitudes, monitoring deficiencies, and the general difficulty of detecting toxicities with long latencies, I am unconvinced that the long history of apparent safe use of soy products can provide confidence that they are indeed without risk." (Sheehan, 1998b).
It should also be noted that the claim on p. 62978 that soy protein foods are GRAS is in conflict with the recent return by CFSAN to Archer Daniels Midland of a petition for GRAS status for soy protein because of deficiencies in reporting adverse effects in the petition. Thus GRAS status has not been granted. Linda Kahl can provide you with details. It would seem appropriate for FDA to speak with a single voice regarding soy protein isolate.
Taken together, the findings presented here are self-consistent and demonstrate that genistein and other isoflavones can have adverse effects in a variety of species, including humans. Animal studies are the front line in evaluating toxicity, as they predict, with good accuracy, adverse effects in humans.
For the isoflavones, we additionally have evidence of two types of adverse effects in humans, despite the very few studies that have addressed this subject. While isoflavones may have beneficial effects at some ages or circumstances, this cannot be assumed to be true at all ages.
Isoflavones are like other estrogens in that they are two-edged swords, conferring both benefits and risk (Sheehan and Medlock, 1995; Sheehan, 1997). The health labeling of soy protein isolate for foods needs to considered just as would the addition of any estrogen or goitrogen to foods, which are bad ideas.
Estrogenic and goitrogenic drugs are regulated by FDA, and are taken under a physician's care. Patients are informed of risks, and are monitored by their physicians for evidence of toxicity. There are no similar safeguards in place for foods, so the public will be put at potential risk from soy isoflavones in soy protein isolate without adequate warning and information.
Daniel M. Sheehan
Daniel R. Doerge
The Shadow of Soy
By Sean Carson
Faster than you can say "isoflavone," the humble soybean has insinuated itself into a dominant position in the standard diet. And that shouldn?t be a surprise.
Cheap, versatile and karma-free, soy in the 1990s went from obscurity as vegan-and-hippie staple to Time magazine. With mad cows lurking between whole wheat buns, and a growing distrust of conventionally-produced dairy products, soy seemed like the ideal choice, the perfect protein.
But like all seemingly perfect things, a shadow lurked. By the final years of the last decade, a number of soy researchers began to cry foul. Soy Good? Soy Bad?
As the soy industry lobbied the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a cardiovascular health claim for soy protein, two senior FDA scientists, Daniel Sheehan and Daniel Doerge--both specialists in estrogen research--wrote a letter vigorously opposing such a claim. In fact, they suggested a warning might be more appropriate.
Two isoflavones found in soy, genistein and daidzen, the same two promoted by the industry for everything from menopause relief to cancer protection, were said to "demonstrate toxicity in estrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid." Moreover, "adverse effects in humans occur in several tissues and, apparently, by several distinct mechanisms." Sheehan also quoted a landmark study (Cassidy, et al. 1994), showing that as little as 45 mg of isoflavones could alter the length of a pre-menopausal woman?s menstrual cycle.
The scientists were particularly concerned about the effects of these two plant estrogens on foetuses and young infants, because "development is recognized as the most sensitive life stage for estrogen toxicity."
It wasnt the first time scientists found problems with soy, but coupled with a Hawaiian study by Dr. Lon White on men, the controversy ended up on national television. While industry scientists criticized both the White study and the two FDA researchers (who are now disallowed from commenting publicly on the issue), other researchers weighed in on the anti-soy side. The tofud fight had begun.
What About Asia?
One of the favourite mantras of soy advocates is that the ubiquitous bean has been used "safely by Asians for thousands of years." With many soy "experts" (often with ties to the soy industry) recommending more than 250 grams of soy foods--and in some cases, more than 100 mg of isoflavones each day--its easy to get the impression that soy plays a major role in the Asian diet. If you saw it on TV or read it in a magazine, it must be true, right? Well, not exactly.
Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions, responds that the soy industry and media have spun a self-serving version of the traditional use of soy in Asia. "The tradition with soy is that it was fermented for a long time, from six months to three years, and then eaten as a condiment, not as a replacement for animal foods," she says.
Fallon states that the so-called Asian diet--far from centring around soy--is based on meat. Approximately 65 percent of Japanese calorie intake comes from fish in Japan, while in China the same percentage comes from pork. "Theyre not using a lot of soy in Asia--an average of 2 teaspoons a day in China and up to a quarter cup in some parts of Japan, but not a huge amount."
Contrast that with modern America, home of "if a little is good for you, more must be better." Walk into any grocery store, especially the health-oriented variety, and you?ll find the ever-present bean. Soy is found in dozens and dozens of items: granola, vegetarian chilli, a vast sundry of imitation animal foods, pasta, most protein powders and "power" bars, and even something called "nature?s burger," which, given the kind of elaborate (and often toxic) processing that goes into making soy isolate and TVP, would make Mother Nature wince.
Theres even a bread--directly marketed to women--containing more than 80 mg of soy isoflavones per serving, which is more than the daily dose in purified isoflavone supplements. All of this, in addition to the traditional soy fare of tempeh, tofu, miso and soy sauce. Its no wonder that Californians are edamame dreaming.
So, while Asians were using limited to moderate amounts of painstakingly prepared soy foods--the alleged benefits of which are still controversial--Americans, especially vegetarians, are consuming more soy products and isoflavones than any culture in human history, and as one researcher put it, "entering a great unknown."
Oddly, nowhere in industry promotion does anyone differentiate between traditional, painstakingly prepared "Asian" soy foods and the modern, processed items that Fallon calls "imitation food." And therein lies the rub. Modern soy protein foods in no way resemble the traditional Asian soy foods, and may contain carcinogens like nitrates, lysinoalanine, as well as a number of anti-nutrients that are only significantly degraded by fermentation or other traditional processing.
"People need to realize that when theyre eating these soy foods--and Im not talking about miso or tofu--but soy "burgers," soy "cheese," soy "ice cream," and all of this stuff, that they are not the real thing. They may look like the real thing and they may taste like the real thing, but they do not have the life-supporting qualities of real foods," Fallon says.
Theres No Business Like Soy Business
"The reason theres so much soy in America is because they started to plant soy to extract the oil from it and soy oil became a very large
industry," says lipid specialist and nutritionist Mary Enig, PhD. "Once they had as much oil as they did in the food supply they had a lot of soy protein residue left over, and since they can?t feed it to animals, except in small amounts, they had to find another market."
According to Enig, female pigs can only ingest it in amounts approximating one percent during their gestational phase and a few percent greater during their lactation diet, or else face reproduction damage and developmental problems in the piglets. "It can be used for chickens, but it really has limitations. So, if you cant feed it to animals, than you find gullible human beings, and you develop a health claim, and you feed it to them."
In a co-written article, Enig and Fallon state that soybean producers pay a mandatory assessment of one-half to one percent of the net market price of soybeans to help fund programs to "strengthen the position of soybeans in the marketplace and maintain and expand foreign markets for uses for soybeans and soy products."
They also cite advertising figures--multi-million dollar figures--that soy-oriented companies like Archer Daniels Midland or ADM spend for spots on national television. Money is also used to fund PR campaigns, favourable articles and lobbying interests. A relaxation of USDA rules has lead to an increase in soy use in school lunches. Far from being the "humble" or "simple" soybean, soy is now big business--very big business. This is not your father?s soybean.
There?s been such a rush to market isoflavones that the before-mentioned multinational corporation, ADM, in 1998, petitioned the FDA for GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for soy isoflavones. For those who don?t know GRAS, the designation is used for foods, and in some cases, food additives, that have been used safely for many years by humans. For those who didn?t know--like a number of protesting scientists--that soy isoflavones had been widely used by generations of Americans before the late 1950s, it was a revelation indeed. Ahem.
Dr. Sheehan, in his 1998 letter to the FDA referenced earlier, states "that soy protein foods are GRAS is in conflict with the recent return by CFSAN to Archer Daniels Midland of a petition for GRAS status for soy protein because of deficiencies in reporting the adverse effects in the petition. Thus GRAS status has not been granted." And what about those safety issues?
Requiem for a Thyroid
One of the biggest concerns about high intake of soy isoflavones is their clearly defined toxic effect on the thyroid gland. You dont have to work too hard to convince Dr. Larrian Gillespie of that. Dr. Gillespie, author of The Menopause Diet, in the name of scientific empiricism, decided to run her own soy experiment--on herself. She notes that she fits the demographic soy isoflavones are most marketed to: borderline hypothyroid, menopausal females.
"I did it in two different ways. I tried the (isoflavone) supplements (at 40mg), where I went into flagrant hypothryoidism within 72 hours, and I did the eat lots of tofu category, and it did the same thing, but it took me five days with that. I knew what I was doing but it still took me another seven to 10 days to come out of it."
Harvard-trained medical doctor Richard Shames, MD, a thyroid specialist who has had a long time practice in Marin, says that "genistein is the most difficult for the metabolic processes of people with low thyroid, so when you have that present in high enough concentrations, the result is an antagonism to the function of thyroid hormone."
"If youre a normal person, and one in 10 are not normal, the effect [of 50 mg of soy isoflavones] may be fairly insignificant, but even a normal person can have problems at levels greater than that," says Shames.
Dr. Gillespie says the daily amount to cause thyroid problems may be as low as 30 mg, or less than a serving of soymilk.
A number of soy proponents say the thyroid concerns are exaggerated and that if dietary iodine is sufficient, problems won?t likely happen. Not so, says Shames: "Iodine is a double-edged sword for people with thyroid problems, and for those people, more is going to increase their chance for an autoimmune reaction ... throwing iodine at it is not going to be the protective solution." Shames recommends limiting soy foods to a few times a week, preferably fermented or well cooked.
Birth Control Pills for Babies?
Environmental toxicologist Mike Fitzpatrick, PhD says he doesnt have it out for soy. His original concern was for babies: "They were getting more soy isoflavones, at least on a bodyweight basis, than anybody else," he notes. "It wasnt so much that I knew what that would do, but that I didnt know what that would do." Fitzpatrick, who is also webmaster of ... Soy Online Services (www.soyonline-service.co.nz), a Web site devoted to informing people about the potential problems with soy, stresses the potential dangers for the developing human body: "Any person with any kind of understanding of environmental endocrine disruptors, compounds [like isoflavones] that are not in the body normally and can modify hormones and the way they work in the body, any expert will say that infants need to avoid these things like the plague."
Fitzpatrick was quoted--and misquoted--worldwide a few years ago when he suggested that the isoflavones in soy formula were the equivalent of birth control pills: "When I first did my review, I did compare the estrogenic equivalents of the contraceptive pill with how much soy infants and adults would be consuming," he says. "Its at least the equivalent of one or two estrogen pills a day, on an estrogenic basis. Ive been criticised that its not the same form of estrogen, but in terms of estrogenicity, its a crude but valid and alarming statistic."
The typical response by industry experts has been to downplay the uniqueness of soy isoflavones, stating--accurately--that isoflavones of various kinds are prevalent in most fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Is it Time to Toss Out the Apple Sauce?
"No, youre not going to do that because you get exposure from all kinds of things, but the exposure you get from soy is way, way higher," Fitzpatrick says. "Soy formula is going to give babies a real whack, far in excess of what you might find in apples. Soy is a very rich source of isoflavones--thats how the industry markets its product. You dont see an apple extract to help women deal with menopause."
You?ve got to wonder how the industry can market soy isoflavones as a form of estrogen replacement therapy for menopausal women (and a host of other health claims) and still claim that soy formula is safe for infants. And while the mechanism for biological activity is clearly defined, the industry keeps repeating the same tune: "no credible evidence exists."
But credible for whom? Says Fitzpatrick: "Were not talking about little studies here but long-term effects on infants and adults, and thats what concerns me. Its very trite. They (the industry) give half-baked answers. What you really need is long-term studies." Likewise, "no credible evidence" is not good enough for Dr. Naomi Baumslag, professor of paediatrics at Georgetown University Medical School. She joined a host of others in criticising a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), purported to be the definitive study on soy formula safety.
"It was not an acceptable epidemiological study--you can take it to any decent epidemiologist and hear what they think about it, and they use it to say that soy is safe," says Baumslag. "Its totally unsubstantiated."
Besides the dangers of prematurity and other reproductive problems posed by isoflavones, Baumslag mentions the high levels of the mineral manganese (no, not magnesium) often found in soy formula. The problem of manganese is so serious that even one soy manufacturer put warning labels on its soymilk.
The company?s president, in a press release, stated that "there is mounting evidence of a correlation between manganese in soy milk (including soy-based infant formula) and neurotoxicity in small infants." With manganese toxicity known for producing behavioural disorders, the press release even goes further stating, "If research continues, showing that the current epidemic levels of ADHD in children, as well as impulsivity and violence among adolescents, are connected with the increase in soy-based infant formula use, our industry could suffer a serious setback by not dealing with the issue upfront."
With all the potential problems with soy formula, Baumslag notes that formula is also missing key immunological factors only found in mothers milk, the lack of which could give a child a life sentence of chronic health problems. She links soy-pushing to corporate profits and the PR campaigns that they fund.
"There?s been so much PR in regards to soy formula and I think you also have to ask yourself why it?s so much cheaper for them to make, which means there?s more profit. How come only one percent in the UK are on formula, where it?s closer to 30 percent in the United States? I don?t know why it?s so important for them to push soy, they should push breast-feeding." Perhaps it?s because breast milk for babies isn?t as lucrative as milking the soybean for profits.
As a former vegan--and big soy-eater--Im disturbed by the vast array of modern, processed soy products that have come on the market in the last few years, without any recognition of potential pitfalls. Safe bet: If it hasnt been eaten safely for thousands of years, you probably shouldnt put it at the center of your diet. Weve been sold a bill of goods that says "soy is good for you," but it doesnt tell you what kind of soy or how much, or even definitively if soy really is what makes Asians so supposedly healthy.
Its well known that the Japanese also eat a very large amount of omega-3 fatty acids from fish each day--substances which have been clearly shown to have anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects. So, is it the soy or is it the fish? As the industry spends millions and millions of dollars to find something that isoflavones are good for--some health claim to justify their unprecedented presence in the American diet--I have to ask: why are they trying so hard? Why is there such a push to push soy?
Soy isoflavones are clearly biologically active--they affect change in your body. Its no longer acceptable for the industry to see no bad, hear no bad, and speak no bad. Legitimate concerns need to be studied--and not studies funded by the industry, conducted by soy scientists.
In the meantime, I?ve located a wonderful, old miso company on the north coast. They age their miso for three years in wood barrels and sell it in glass jars. It?s rich, earthy and real. I enjoy a teaspoon in a glass of hot water a few times a week after dinner. It tastes lively and feels good. I no longer get the "urge" to eat soy "dogs" or soy "burgers," though I now suspect that urge didn?t come from my own instinct, but from the lofty dictates of the soy experts.
But why wait years while ignorant armies clash over this and that isoflavone and studies that say one thing or another? Perhaps the safest way to use soy, if you choose to use soy, is the way its been used by Asians for thousands of years: fermented, in moderation, as a condiment. In short, color me cautious.
Why Soy Can Damage Your Health
Newest Research On Why You Should Avoid Soy - by Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. - What was once a minor crop, listed in the 1913 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) handbook not as a food but as an industrial product, now covers 72 million acres of American farmland.
Soy May Cause Cancer and Brain Damage - Two senior US government scientists have revealed that chemicals in soy could increase the risk of breast cancer in women, brain damage in both men and women, and abnormalities in infants.
The Trouble With Tofu: Soy and the Brain -by John D. MacArthur - "Tofu Shrinks Brain!" Not a science fiction scenario, this sobering soybean revelation is for real. But how did the "poster bean" of the '90s go wrong? Apparently, in many ways -- none of which bode well for the brain.
Soy: Too Good to be True - by Brandon Finucan & Charlotte Gerson - While even in 1966 there was considerable research on the harmful substances within soybeans, you'll be hard pressed to find articles today that claim soy is anything short of a miracle-food. As soy gains more and more popularity through industry advertising, we are moved once again to raise our voice of concern.
Learn The Truth About The Historical Use Of Soy - Just How Much Soy Did Asians Eat? In short, not that much, and contrary to what the industry may claim, soy has never 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. Yes, the Asians understood soy all right!
High Soy Diet During Pregnancy And Nursing May Cause Developmental Changes In Children - Two separate studies -- one in animals and the other in humans, suggest that a diet high in soybeans and other legumes during pregnancy and breastfeeding may have a subtle but long-term impact on the development of children.
Concerns Regarding Soybeans - Some good information abstracted from an article written by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D. for Health Freedom News in September of 1995.
Soy Can Cause Severe Allergic Reactions - Soy, like its botanically-related cousin the peanut, could be responsible for severe, potentially fatal, cases of food allergy, particularly in children with asthma who are also very sensitive to peanuts.
Soy Supplements Fail to Help Menopause Symptoms - 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.
20/20 Feature on the Dangers of Soy - The ABC television news program 20/20 aired a feature story Friday June 8, 2000 on the dangers of soy.
Soy Formulas and the Effects of Isoflavones on the Thyroid - Environmental scientist and long-time campaigner against soy-based infant formulas, Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, warns about the risk of thyroid disease in infants fed soy formulas, high soy consumers and users of isoflavone supplements.
Pregnant Women Should Not Eat Soy Products - In-utero exposure to genistein increases the incidence of breast tumors.
Soybean Crisis - Jane Phillimore of The Observer addresses some of the concerns raised by new research about the safety of soy.
Response To Those Who Believe Soy Is Healthy - In a recent Letter to the Editor of the Townsend Letter, Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig make the case that soy is not the health food that it is claimed to be. The soy campaign is, in fact, a case study in the use of propaganda to promote commercial interests, they allege.
Soy Can Lead to Kidney Stones - Those who are prone to the painful condition known as kidney stones may become more vulnerable to it through the consumption of soy.
Chemical in Soybeans Causes Sexual Dysfunction in Male Rats - Exposure to genistein, a chemical found in soybeans, led to abnormal reproductive organs and sexual dysfunction in rats. Take a hint and avoid all but fermented soy products if you want to decrease your chances of having fertility problems.
Experts Dispute JAMA Soy Infant Formula Study - The results of study on soy formula are being disputed for several reasons, including the omission of negative findings regarding the product.
Soy Milk Is Safe! That Is What the Formula Industry Says - A biased study funded by the formula industry attempts to polish the image of their product. Don't be deceived though, as soy formula remains one of the worst foods you can feed your child.
Australian Pediatric Soy Protein Formula Policy - Read about the abundance of reasons why conventional milk infant formula is preferred over soy formula, as well as the dangers of feeding soy formulas to infants.
Soy Baby Formula Linked to Behavioral Problems - Elevated levels of manganese in soy infant formula may be related to attention-related disorders.
How Safe is Soy Infant Formula? - New research suggests high concentrations of manganese found in soybean-based baby formula can lead to brain damage in infants and altered behaviors in adolescents.
Soy Formula Exposes Infants To High Hormone Levels - The daily exposure of infants to phyto-estrogens (chemicals that possess wide ranges of hormonal and non-hormonal activities) who consume soy formulas was 6-11 times higher than adults consuming soy foods.
Soy Weakens Your Immune System - There is one thing that is quite clear, soy formula should never be administered to an infant. Find out why.
Soy Milk is Gaining Popularity in America - Soy milk, once a niche market, is now making its way into mainstream America. Find out why soy is not the health food it is promoted to be.
Learn The Truth About The Historical Use Of Soy
Just How Much Soy Did Asians Eat?
In short, not that much, and contrary to what the industry may claim soy has never 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. Yes, the Asians understood soy all right!
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. But this is well in excess of what Asians typically consume; they generally use small portions of soy to complement their meal. It should also be noted that soy is not the main source of dietary protein and that a regime of calcium-set tofu and soymilk bears little resemblance to the soy consumed traditionally in Asia.
Perhaps the best survey of what types/quantities of soy eaten in Asia comes from data from a validated, semi quantitative food frequency questionnaire that surveyed 1242 men and 3596 women who participated in an annual health check-up program in Takayama City, Japan. This survey identified that the soy products consumed were tofu (plain, fried, deep-fried, or dried), miso, fermented soybeans, soymilk, and boiled soybeans. The estimated amount of soy protein consumed from these sources was 8.00 ± 4.95 g/day for men and 6.88 ± 4.06 g/day for women (Nagata C, Takatsuka N, Kurisu Y, Shimizu H; J Nutr 1998, 128:209-13).
According to KC Chang, editor of Food in Chinese Culture, the total caloric intake due to soy in the Chinese diet in the 1930's was only 1.5%, compared with 65% for pork. For more information on the traditional use of soy products, contact the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.
The chief concern we have about the consumption of large amounts of soy is that there is a risk of mega-dosing on isoflavones. If soy consumers follow the advice of Protein Technologies International (manufacturers of isolated soy protein) and consume 100 grams of soy protein per day, their daily genistein intake could easily exceed 200 milligrams per day. This level of genistein intake should definitely be avoided. For comparison, it should be noted that Japanese males consume, on average, less than 10 milligrams of genistein per day (Fukutake M, Takahashi M, Ishida K, Kawamura H, Sugimura T, Wakabayashi K; Food Chem Toxicol 1996, 34:457-61).
What about the traditional use of soy in infant feeding?
Ever heard the industry line that 'soy formulas must be safe because Asian infants have been eating soy for centuries'? Just another piece of false advertising, a little like the claims that 'soy formulas are better than breast milk' that many parents that have fed soy formulas testify to. And to set the record straight, 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 but it is little used as part of the diet for children. Its nutritive properties as a food for young infants are practically unknown.
Eight years later, Tso's comments were still valid. Writing in the 1930's, 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. This beverage is not made in the home in Peiping, but is sold by street vendors, as a hot, very weak solution of soybean protein and is usually drunk by old people in place of tea. The milk, as reinforced for the feeding of young infants, is rather tedious and difficult to prepare. As dispensed recently by the various health stations, it is in demand, but is just as artificial in this community as cow's milk' (Guy RA. Chinese Med J. 1936; 50:434-442).
In a later publication, Guy reported on the use of soybean milk as a food for infants. The whole purpose of this report was to comment on the possible use of soymilk to address the problem of feeding those infants without sufficient maternal milk in a country where cow's milk was not native. He again noted that although a weak soy milk or 'tofu chiang' was 'sold hot in Peking by street vendors and was taken by old people in place of tea', that 'contrary to Western notions' it was not usual to feed soy milk to infants (Guy RA and Yeh KS. Chinese Med J. 1938; 54:1-30).
It seems those same Western notions that made Asians out to be greater soy consumers than they were are still prevalent. Why is that? Asia is a huge market for the soy industry and the soy industry efforts to convince Asians that their ancestors ate much more soy than they actually did are purely profit driven. We view the attempts of the soy industry to re-write the history books with the contempt it deserves.
Soy: Too Good to be True
By Brandon Finucan & Charlotte Gerson
While even in 1966 there was considerable research on the harmful substances within soybeans, you'll be hard pressed to find articles today that claim soy is anything short of a miracle-food. As soy gains more and more popularity through industry advertising, we are moved once again to raise our voice of concern.
The Soybean Industry in America
In 1924 soybean production in the U.S. was only at 1.8 million acres harvested, but by 1954, the harvested acres grew to 18.9 million. Today, the soybean is America's third largest crop (harvesting 72 million acres in 1998), supplying more than 50 percent of the world's soybean demand.
Most of these beans are made into animal feed and are manufactured into soy oil for use as vegetable oil, margarine and shortening. Of the traditional uses for soy as a food, only soy sauce enjoys widespread consumption in the American diet. Tofu, measuring 90 percent of Asia's use of the soybean, has gained more popularity in the U.S., but soy is still nowhere near a measurable component of the average American diet - or is it?
For more than 20 years now, the soy industry has concentrated on finding alternative uses and new markets for soybeans and soy byproducts. At your local supermarket, soy can now be found disguised as everything from soy cheese, milk, burgers and hot dogs, to ice cream, yogurt, vegetable oil, baby formula and flour (to name just a few). These are often marketed as low-fat, dairy-free, or as a high-protein, meat substitute for vegetarians. But soy isnít always mentioned on the box cover. Today, an alarming 60% of the food on America's supermarket shelves contain soy derivatives (i.e. soy flour, textured vegetable protein, partially hydrogenated soy bean oil, soy protein isolate). When you look at the ingredients list, and really look at the contents of the "Average American Diet," from snack foods and fast foods to prepackaged frozen meals, soy plays a major role.
Where the soybean goes wrong?
Here at the Gerson Institute, we feel the positive aspects of the soybean are 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, but none have the high level of phytates that soybeans do. These acids block the bodyís 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 needs for protein digestion. Normal cooking does not deactivate these harmful "antinutrients," that can cause serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.
Beyond these, soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells are unable to properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body's tissues, and cannot help in maintaining good 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.
Only after a long period of fermentation (as in the creation of miso or tempeh) are the phytate and "antinutrient" levels of soybeans reduced, making their nourishment available to the human digestive system. The high levels of harmful substances remaining in precipitated soy products leave their nutritional value questionable at best, and in the least, potentially harmful.
What About the Studies?
In recent years, several studies have been made regarding the soybeanís effect on human health. The results of those studies, largely underwritten by various factions of the soy industry, were of course overwhelmingly in favor of soy. The primary claims about soy's health benefits are based purely on bad science. Although primary arguments for cancer patients to use soy focus on statistics showing low rates of breast, colon and prostate cancer among Asian people, there are obvious facts being utterly ignored. While the studies boast that Asian women suffer far fewer cases of breast cancer than American women do, the hype neglects to point out that these Asian women eat a diet that is dramatically different than their American counterparts.
The standard Asian diet consists of more natural products, far less fatty meat, greater amounts of vegetables and more fish. Their diets are also lower in chemicals and toxins, as they eat far fewer processed (canned, jarred, pickled, frozen) foods. It is likely these studies are influenced by the fact that cancer rates rise among Asian people who move to the U.S. and adopt American-ized diets. Of course, this change of diet goes hand-in-hand with a dramatic shift in lifestyle. Ignoring the remarkable diet and lifestyle changes, to assume only that reduced levels of soy in these Americanized Asian diets is a primary factor in greater cancer rates is poor judgment, and as stated above, bad science. The changes of diet and lifestyle must be considered to reach the correct conclusion.
A widely circulated article, written by Jane E. Allen, AP Science Writer, titled, "Scientists Suggest More Soy in Diet", cites in the course of a symposium, numerous speakers discussing the probable advantages of soy under the title, "Health Impact of Soy Protein." However, the article states that the $50,000 symposium "was underwritten by Protein Technologies International of St. Louis, a DuPont subsidiary that makes soy protein!" In the course of the same symposium, Thomas Clarkson, professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University, states "Current hormone replacement therapy has been a dismal failure from a public health point of view," not because PremarinÆ is known to cause uterine or other female organ cancers, but "because only 20 percent of the women who could benefit from it are taking it."
Other popular arguments in support of soy state that fermented products, like tempeh or natto, contain high levels of vitamin B-12. However, these supportive arguments fail to mention that soy's B-12 is an inactive B-12 analog, not utilized as a vitamin in the human body. Some researchers speculate this analog may actually serve to block the body's B-12 absorption. It has also been found that allergic reactions to soybeans are far more common than to all other legumes. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics admits that early exposure to soy through commercial infant formulas, may be a leading cause of soy allergies among older children and adults.
In his classic book, A Cancer Therapy - Results of 50 Cases (p. 237), Dr. Gerson put "Soy and Soy Products" on the "FORBIDDEN" list of foods for Gerson Therapy patients. At the time, his greatest concerns were two items: the high oil content of soy and soy products, and the rather high rate of allergic reactions to soy. Soybeans can add as much as 9 grams of fat per serving, typically adding an average of 5 grams of fat per serving when part of an average American diet.
The Extraction Process
The processes which render the soybean "edible" are also the processes which render it "inedible." In fermenting soybeans, the process entails that the beans be purÈed and soaked in an alkaline solution. The purÈed mixture is then heated to about 115?C (239?F) inside a pressure cooker. This heating and soaking process destroys most, but not all, of the anti-nutrients. At the same time, it has the unwelcome effect of denaturing the proteins of the beans so they become very difficult to digest and greatly reduced in effectiveness. Unfortunately, the alkaline solution also produces a carcinogen, lysinealine, while it reduces the already low cystine content within the soybean. Cystine plays an essential role in liver detoxification, allowing our bodies to filter and eliminate toxins. Without proper amounts of cystine, the protein complex of the soybean becomes useless, unless the diet is fortified with cystine-rich meat, egg, or dairy products - not an option for Gerson patients.
To the soybeanís credit, they do contain large amounts of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, but these are particularly susceptible to rancidity when subjected to high pressures and temperatures. Unfortunately, high pressure and temperature are required to remove soybean oil from the soybean.
Before soybeans are sent to your table, they undergo a rigorous process to strip them of their oil. Hexane or other solvents are first applied to help separate the oil from the beans, leaving trace amounts of these toxins in the commercial product. Hexane by definition is; "any of five colorless, volatile, liquid hydrocarbons C6H14 of the paraffin series," and cannot be the least bit beneficial in anyoneís diet. After the oil is extracted, the defatted flakes are used to form the three basic soy protein products. With the exception of full-fat soy flour, all soybean products contain trace amounts of carcinogenic solvents.
The following letter was received in November 1998: "I have used soy milk for 12 years with no problems. About 9 months ago, I started to have heart palpitations. I thought maybe that I was in menopause, but I wasnít. I added more potassium to my diet and magnesium and vitamin E. No change. I am already decaffeinated but I also took all sugar out of my diet. I lost 25 pounds and felt great except for the palpitations. I tried hawthorn and garlic but nothing was helping. Recently I came down with acute bronchitis and could only drink water because even the soy milk made me have horrendous bouts of coughing. I realized that after a few days my heart palpitations had stopped. I didn't think anything of it because it never occurred to me that soy was the culprit. As soon as I started drinking it again, my heart went crazy. I went off it for a week and then changed brands. Within 30 minutes of drinking only 4 ounces [of soy milk], my heart was all over the place. I've noticed that it takes about 24 to 36 hours for my heart to settle down. I wondered if your research turned up anything like this in regard to soy. I know it is not within the definition of an allergy, but something is definitely going on. I called the manufacturer of the soy milk, but they were of no help. I am very upset because I only drink soy milk and water. I also use the soy milk to make protein shakes (with what elseÖbut soy protein)."
In our November/December 1996 issue of the Gerson Healing Newsletter we described another case: a pregnant lady who looked very ill and was terribly deficient! She also described her son, age five, who had many allergies and infections - both were using a good deal of soy in their diet. I recommended that they discontinue the use of all soy products. At the time, I had only just run across this situation. However, a year later, I was in the same area for a lecture, and the lady invited me to dinner. She had cut out all soy products: her skin was now rosy, her face filled out, her sunken eyes normal, her black circles gone and her little boy, now six, was in greatly improved health.
Just last week, another interesting story came to our attention. A patient at the Gerson Certified Hospital in Mexico told us of her son, now 25, who has total lack of hair (Alopecia) with the exception of eyebrows and eyelashes. She added that this started when he was just three years old. Since the mother asked me about this situation, I considered the problem for a moment. Then, looking at the parents who both have normal hair, I figured that the boy's problem was most probably not genetic. So, I asked the mother if he used a lot of soy. She said, no. But then, after thinking about the question for a moment, she said that at about one year of age, the boy had many allergies, so she regularly fed him soy milk! I explained to her that the enzyme and nutrient blocking ability of soy and the likelihood of the soy milk being the cause of his condition starting at age three. Since we had just witnessed the case of a patient whose hair grew back on his bald pate, (See "Practitioner Training" article in this issue) after being bald for some 20 years, I cautiously suggested that a complete change of diet accompanied by intensive detoxification, may be able to overcome the problem.
Gerson Institute Newsletter Volume 14 #3
This article is the first of two parts. Part Two will be next week
ìSoybean Products: A Recipe for Disaster?î Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Apr-May 1997), http://www.icom.net/~nexus/soya.html
Soy Protein Council, http://www.spcouncil.org
ìJeopardizing the Future? Genetic Engineering, Food and the Environmentî, by Dr. Michael Hanson and Jean Halloran, http://www.pmac.net/
ìMonsanto Genetically Engineered Soya has Elevated Hormone Levels: Public Health Threatî (Oct. 1997), http://www.holisticmed.com/
ìMonsantoís Toxic Roundupî (Nov. 1996),http://www.holisticmed.com/
ìToxicity from Genetically-Engineered Foodsî, http://www.holisticmed.com/
Eat the State!, ìNature & Politicsî by Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn (Feb. 1999),
'Concerns Regarding Soybeansî, http://www.rheumatic.org/soy.htm
Soy: Too Good to be True (Part 2 of 2)
by Susan DeSimone & Brandon Finucan
Don't Believe the Hype!
The Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is one of the leading manufacturers of soy products. They are seeking "GRAS" (generally recognized as safe) status from the FDA for isoflavones, the estrogen-like compounds found in soy products. They have submitted a document entitled, " An information document reviewing the safety of soy isoflavones used in specific dietary applications."
Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, a biochemist and former Auckland University professor has carefully analyzed this material and presented his findings in an article entitled, "Soy Isoflavones: Panacea or Poison" published in the Journal of the Price-Pottinger Nutrition Foundation (vol. 22, no. 3). Dr. Fitzpatrick concluded that ADM's supporting document "contains factual errors, misrepresents cited authors and does not present the full body of scientific evidence."
ADM claims that "these isoflavones have been consumed by millions of humans for over two thousand years." In actuality, while they have been used in Asia for hundreds of years, they "did not form a significant part of [the Asian] diet." Furthermore, notes Fitzpatrick, "the traditional soybean was quite different from the soybean as we know it today ." The wild soybean, Glycine soja, "is the species that was consumed traditionally and is the ancestor of the modern cultivar, Glycine max, explains Fitzpatrick. The modern day species has been cultivated to breed much more protein than the traditional soybean.
The isoflavones serve as a "defense mechanism in response to pests. Increased disease resistance has been a consistent goal of soybean breeders and it is quite conceivable that this goal has served to increase the levels of isoflavones, and other naturally occurring toxins in the Glycine max." The levels of isoflavones in Glycine max vary considerably. "If this is so, then it is not implausible that the traditional Asian soybean, Glycine soja, contained quite low levels of isoflavones or perhaps none at all," states Fitzpatrick. Therefore, ADM's assertion that soybeans have been safely consumed for over two thousand years cannot be substantiated.
Soy and Infant Formula
What is particularly worrisome is the presence of soy in infant formulas. It is interesting to note that many infants cannot tolerate soy formulas, that they seem to be "allergic" to the soy.
Perhaps the body is instinctively rejecting the enzyme inhibitors found in the soy. In a letter addressed to Linda Kahl at the division of Product Policy of the Food and Drug Administration dated April 22, 1998, Daniel Sheehan, Ph.d and director of the Estrogen Base Program at the National Center for Toxicological Research wrote:
"There is abundant evidence that some of the isoflavones, including genistein and equal are toxicants... additionally, isoflavones are inhibitors of thyroid peroxidase which makes T3 and T4. Inhibition can be expected to generate thyroid abnormalities including goiter and autoimmune thyroiditis. In fact, infants consuming soy infant formula rich in isoflavones have about a two-fold risk of developing these diseases...While isoflavones may have beneficial effects at some ages or circumstances, this cannot be assumed to be true at all ages. Isoflavones are like other estrogens in that they are two-edged swords, conferring both benefits and risk.
Dr. Sheehan believes that "The addition of isoflavones to foods needs to be considered just as would the addition of estrogen to foods, which is a bad idea." Dr. Sheehan is very concerned about the high isoflavone content found in soy based formulas. He feels that infants fed these formulas have been placed at risk in a "large, uncontrolled, and basically unmonitored human infant experiment." Dr. Fitzpatrick raises another issue: he believes that soy may combine with other xenoestrogens (such as pesticides). Fitzpatrick writes that "because of the potential for synergistic effects, human exposure to all endocrine disrupters, such as the soy isoflavones urgently requires reduction."
Soy and the Western Diet
In part one of this article, we mentioned that assumptions have been made linking soy intake to the low incidence of certain cancers in Asia. "However, an epidemiological study in China has shown that high soy intake is not protective against breast cancer."1
The soy proponents have conveniently overlooked a study which has shown that high levels of genistein "may stimulate breast cells to enter the cell cycle" 2. These findings are "consistent with an earlier report by Petrakis et al. who expressed concern that women fed soy protein isolate have an increased incidence of epithelial hyperplasia."3
The U.K. government recently published their findings of the effects of soy in the diet, concluding that "there was almost no evidence linking health benefits from foods containing isoflavones to the isoflavones themselves."4
Another study concluded that "any benefits from soy products are not due to isoflavones specifically... [and] the combination of a high phytoestrogen intake with a western diet may not be beneficial.5
Adding to the natural trouble with soybeans, we are faced with a new Western phenomenon: genetically altered soy. Among other genetically altered, or transgenic foods like corn, apples, tomatoes, squash, strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, wheat and even walnuts (to name just a few), soy is one of the most controversial. MonsantoTM, the multi-million dollar biotechnology leader that brought us rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone), has been fighting to put genetically altered foods on your table for several years. So far, they are winning. The truth is, unless you've been eating ONLY organic foods, it is likely you've been tasting Monsanto's handiwork.
Monsanto has gained millions in profits from sales of its popular herbicide, RoundupÆ, and in turn has produced several transgenic crops that resist it. Soy is of course among those Roundup-ReadyÆ crops. Being resistant to this powerful herbicide, farmers are able to spray more of it on their crops, resulting in higher levels of toxins in the harvested product. Recent studies have shown that sprayed soybean crops have an elevated estrogen level (much higher than the soybean's already high levels). As we mentioned earlier, the synergistic effect of these estrogens - especially on children ingesting soy based formula is unknown, but in a recent study reported in Pediatrics raised a few eyebrows. "
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 Caucasian girls and a whopping 48.3 percent of African-American girls had one or both of these characteristics" states Sally Fallon in the Price-Pottinger article on soy. (For a natural alternative to soy and milk based formula, see Nourishing Traditions, available through PPNF at 619-574-7763).
These higher estrogen levels have proven to increase amounts of fat produced in the milk of cows fed the altered altered and sprayed beans. Together with the use of rBGH, the elevated estrogen levels bring into question whether cows milk can really be called milk.
The European Union has fought desperately to keep genetically altered crops from entering Europe's food chain, but this June, both France and Ireland will be planting the first altered crops to be grown on European soil. In the United States, there are very few (if any) regulations placed on the biotechnology industry.
Soy and Protein Intake
Soybeans are not the basis of measurement for whether or not a vegetarian diet is supplying you with the protein and nutrients your body needs. In fact, a diet completely devoid of soy or meat products, but varied in vegetables and fruits, can supply your body with all the protein and nutrients it needs. The important factor in determining whether or not your soy-free, vegetarian diet is good enough for you is not careful food combining, it is calories. As long as you ar eating enough leafy greens, fruits and vegetables, your body will be supplied with everything it needs. This is why the Gerson Therapy, with its well-balanced, plant-based (soy-free) diet, rich in vitamins and enzymes, is able to effectively heal even the most difficult of ailments.
Go To Part One
Gerson Institute Newsletter Volume 14 #4
1. Yuan JM et al. Diet and breast cancer in Shanghai and Yianjin. Br J Cancer 71:1353-1358 (1995).
2. Dees C et al. Dietary estrogens stimulate breast cells to enter the cell cycle. Eviron Health Perspect 105 (Suppl 3): 633-636 (1997).
3. Petrakis NL et al. Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate on breast secretion in pre- and post-menopausal women. Cancer Epid Bio Prev 5: 785-794 (1996).
4. Assessment on phytoestrogens in the human diet. Institute for Environmental Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1997).
5. Adlecruetz H and Mazur W. Phytoestrogens and western diseases. Annals of Medicine 29: 95-120 (1997).
The Trouble With Tofu: Soy and the
By John D. MacArthur
"Tofu Shrinks Brain!" Not a science fiction scenario, this sobering soybean revelation is for real. But how did the "poster bean" of the '90s go wrong? Apparently, in many ways -- none of which bode well for the brain.
In a major ongoing study involving 3,734 elderly Japanese-American men, those who ate the most tofu during midlife had up to 2.4 times the risk of later developing Alzheimer's disease. As part of the three-decade long Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, 27 foods and drinks were correlated with participants' health. Men who consumed tofu at least twice weekly had more cognitive impairment, compared with those who rarely or never ate the soybean curd. [1,2]
"The test results were about equivalent to what they would have been if they were five years older," said lead researcher Dr. Lon R. White from the Hawaii Center for Health Research. For the guys who ate no tofu, however, they tested as though they were five years younger.
What's more, higher midlife tofu consumption was also associated with low brain weight. Brain atrophy was assessed in 574 men using MRI results and in 290 men using autopsy information. Shrinkage occurs naturally with age, but for the men who had consumed more tofu, White said "their brains seemed to be showing an exaggeration of the usual patterns we see in aging."
Phytoestrogens -- Soy Self Defense
Tofu and other soybean foods contain isoflavones, three-ringed molecules bearing a structural resemblance to mammalian steroidal hormones. White and his fellow researchers speculate that soy's estrogen-like compounds (phytoestrogens) might compete with the body's natural estrogens for estrogen receptors in brain cells.
Plants have evolved many different strategies to protect themselves from predators. Some have thorns or spines, while others smell bad, taste bad, or poison animals that eat them. Some plants took a different route, using birth control as a way to counter the critters who were wont to munch.
Plants such as soy are making oral contraceptives to defend themselves, says Claude Hughes, Ph.D., a neuroendocrinologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. They evolved compounds that mimic natural estrogen. These phytoestrogens can interfere with the mammalian hormones involved in reproduction and growth -- a strategy to reduce the number and size of predators.
Toxicologists Concerned About Soy's Health Risks
The soy industry says that White's study only shows an association between tofu consumption and brain aging, but does not prove cause and effect. On the other hand, soy experts at the National Center for Toxicological Research, Daniel Sheehan, Ph.D., and Daniel Doerge, Ph.D., consider this tofu study very important. "It is one of the more robust, well-designed prospective epidemiological studies generally available. . . We rarely have such power in human studies, as well as a potential mechanism."
In a 1999 letter to the FDA (and on the ABC News program 20/20), the two toxicologists expressed their opposition to the agency's health claims for soy, saying the Honolulu study "provides evidence that soy (tofu) phytoestrogens cause vascular dementia. Given that estrogens are important for maintenance of brain function in women; that the male brain contains aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estradiol; and that isoflavones inhibit this enzymatic activity, there is a mechanistic basis for the human findings." 
Although estrogen's role in the central nervous system is not well understood, White notes that "a growing body of information suggests that estrogens may be needed for optimal repair and replacement of neural structures eroded with aging."
One link to the puzzle may involve calcium-binding proteins, which are associated with protection against neurodegenerative diseases. In recent animal studies at Brigham Young University's Neuroscience Center, researchers found that consumption of phytoestrogens via a soy diet for a relatively short interval can significantly elevate phytoestrogens levels in the brain and decrease brain calcium-binding proteins. 
Concerns About Giving Soy to Infants
The most serious problem with soy may be its use in infant formulas. "The amount of phytoestrogens that are in a day's worth of soy infant formula equals 5 birth control pills," says Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., president of the Maryland Nutritionists Association. She and other nutrition experts believe that infant exposure to high amounts of phytoestrogens is associated with early puberty in girls and retarded physical maturation in boys. 
A study reported in the British medical journal Lancet found that the "daily exposure of infants to isoflavones in soy infant-formulas is 6-11 fold higher on a bodyweight basis than the dose that has hormonal effects in adults consuming soy foods." (A dose, equivalent to two glasses of soy milk per day, that was enough to change menstrual patterns in women. ) In the blood of infants tested, concentrations of isoflavones were 13000-22000 times higher than natural estrogen concentrations in early life. 
Soy Interferes with Enzymes
While soybeans are relatively high in protein compared to other legumes, Enig says they are a poor source of protein because other proteins found in soybeans act as potent enzyme inhibitors. These "anti-nutrients" block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion. Trypsin inhibitors are large, tightly folded proteins that are not completely deactivated during ordinary cooking and can reduce protein digestion. Therefore, soy consumption may lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. 
Soy's ability to interfere with enzymes and amino acids may have direct consequence for the brain. As White and his colleagues suggest, "isoflavones in tofu and other soyfoods might exert their influence through interference with tyrosine kinase-dependent mechanisms required for optimal hippocampal function, structure and plasticity." 
High amounts of protein tyrosine kinases are found in the hippocampus, a brain region involved with learning and memory. One of soy's primary isoflavones, genistein, has been shown to inhibit tyrosine kinase in the hippocampus, where it blocked "long-term potentiation," a mechanism of memory formation. 
Tyrosine, Dopamine, and Parkinson's Disease
The brain uses the amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine to synthesize the key neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that promote alertness and activity. Dopamine is crucial to fine muscle coordination. People whose hands tremble from Parkinson's disease have a diminished ability to synthesize dopamine. An increased incidence of depression and other mood disorders are associated with low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Also, the current scientific consensus on attention-deficit disorder points to a dopamine imbalance.
Soy has been shown to affect tyrosine hydroxylase activity in animals, causing the utilization rate of dopamine to be "profoundly disturbed." When soy lecithin supplements were given throughout perinatal development, they reduced activity in the cerebral cortex and "altered synaptic characteristics in a manner consistent with disturbances in neural function." 
Researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute at the National Institutes of Health and are finding a connection between tyrosine hydroxylase activity, thyroid hormone receptors, and depleted dopamine levels in the brain -- particularly in the substantia nigra, a region associated with the movement difficulties characteristic of Parkinson's disease. [11-13]
Soy Affects the Brain via the Thyroid Gland
Tyrosine is crucial to the brain in another way. It's needed for the body to make active thyroid hormones, which are a major physiological regulator of mammalian brain development. By affecting the rate of cell differentiation and gene expression, thyroid hormones regulate the growth and migration of neurons, including synaptic development and myelin formation in specific brain regions. Low blood levels of tyrosine are associated with an underactive thyroid gland.
Scientists have known for years that isoflavones in soy products can depress thyroid function, causing goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) and autoimmune thyroid disease. In the early 1960s, goiter and hypothyroidism were reported in infants fed soybean diets.  Scientists at the National Center for Toxicological Research showed that the soy isoflavones genistein and daidzein "inhibit thyroid peroxidase-catalyzed reactions essential to thyroid hormone synthesis." 
Japanese researchers studied effects on the thyroid from soybeans administered to healthy subjects. They reported that consumption of as little as 30 grams (two tablespoons) of soybeans per day for only one month resulted in a significant increase in thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the brain's pituitary gland when thyroid hormones are too low. Their findings suggested that "excessive soybean ingestion for a certain duration might suppress thyroid function and cause goiters in healthy people, especially elderly subjects." 
Thyroid Hormones and Fetal Brain Development
Thyroid alterations are among the most frequently encountered autoimmune conditions in children. Researchers at Cornell University Medical College showed that the "frequency of feedings with soy-based milk formulas in early life was significantly higher in children with autoimmune thyroid disease."  In a previous study, they found that twice as many diabetic children had received soy formula in infancy as compared to non-diabetic children. 
Recognizing the risk, Swiss health authorities recommend "very restrictive use" of soy for babies. In England and Australia, public health agencies tell parents to first seek advice from a doctor before giving their infants soy formula. The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends that "Soy formula should only be used under the direction of a health professional for specific medical indications. . . Clinicians who are treating children with a soy-based infant formula for medical conditions should be aware of the potential interaction between soy infant formula and thyroid function." 
Thyroid hormones exert their influence during discrete windows of time. Inappropriate hormone levels can have a devastating effect on the developing human brain, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when the fetus depends on the mother's thyroid hormones for brain development. After that, both maternal and fetal thyroid hormone levels affect the central nervous system.
A 1999 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that pregnant women with underactive thyroids were four times more likely to have children with low IQs if the disorder is left untreated. The study found that 19% of the children born to mothers with thyroid deficiency had IQ scores of 85 or lower, compared with only 5% of those born to mothers without such problems. 
Thyroid, Brain, and Environmental Toxins
Children exposed prenatally and during infancy to common environmental toxins like dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can suffer behavioral, learning, and memory problems because these chemicals may be disrupting the normal action of thyroid hormone. 
Combinations of insecticides, weed killers, and artificial fertilizers -- even at low levels -- have measurable detrimental effects on thyroid and other hormones as well as on the brain.  EPA scientists now want to upgrade the commonly used herbicide, atrazine, to a "likely carcinogen." In animal tests, atrazine attaches to sites on the hypothalamus, a crucial brain region involved with regulating levels of stress and sex hormones. 
Individuals newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease were more than twice as likely to have been exposed to insecticides in their home, compared to those without the disease. 
Soy formulas for infants can contain other neurotoxins: aluminum, cadmium, and fluoride. Studies found that aluminum concentrations in soy-based formulas were a 100-fold greater compared to human breast milk, while cadmium content was 8-15 times higher than in milk-based formulas. In an Australian study, the fluoride content of soy-based formulas ranged from 1.08 to 2.86 parts per million. The authors concluded that "prolonged consumption (beyond 12 months of age) of infant formula reconstituted with optimally-fluoridated water could result in excessive amounts of fluoride being ingested." A study of Connecticut children revealed that mild-to-moderate fluorosis was strongly associated with soy-based infant formula use. [27-30]
In May 2000, Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility released their report, "The Toxic Threats to Child Development." In the section on neurotoxins, they concluded: "Studies in animals and human populations suggest that fluoride exposure, at levels that are experienced by a significant proportion of the population whose drinking water is fluoridated, may have adverse impacts on the developing brain." 
Iodine vs. Fluorine
The thyroid gland uses tyrosine and the natural element iodine to make thyroxine (T4), a thyroid hormone containing four iodine atoms. The other, much more biologically active thyroid hormone is tri-iodothyronine (T3), which has three iodine atoms. Lack of dietary iodine has long been identified as the problem in diminished thyroid hormone synthesis.
According to the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders: "Iodine deficiency has been called the world's major cause of preventable mental retardation. Its severity can vary from mild intellectual blunting to frank cretinism, a condition that includes gross mental retardation, deaf mutism, short stature, and various other defects. . . The damage to the developing brain results in individuals poorly equipped to fight disease, learn, work effectively, or reproduce satisfactorily."
This crucial role of iodine is another reason why the thyroid gland is especially vulnerable today. Canadian researcher Andreas Schuld has documented more than 100 studies during the last 70 years that demonstrate adverse effects of fluoride on the thyroid gland.  Schuld says, "Fluorine, being the strongest in the group of halogens, will seriously interfere with iodine and iodine synthesis, forcing more urinary elimination of ingested iodine as fluoride ingestion or absorption increases."
Fluorides were actually used in the past, specifically to reduce thyroid function. In the 1930s through to the 1960s fluorides at 0.9mg to 4.5mg/day were given as effective anti-thyroid medication to hyperthyroid patients."  Russian researchers in the 1980s concluded that prolonged consumption of drinking water with a raised fluorine content was a risk factor of more rapid development of thyroid pathology. 
A major source of fluoride exposure in the United States is fluoridated drinking water -- including foods and drinks manufactured and processed with this treated water. (Only about 5% of the world's population is fluoridated, and more than half live in North America. 99% of western continental Europe has rejected, banned, or stopped the addition of fluoride compounds to their drinking water. ) Also, approximately 45 million pounds of hydrogen fluoride are released from U.S. coal-fired plants every year into the environment.
Soy Phytates Inhibit Zinc Absorption
Another way that soybeans may affect brain function is because of their phytic acid content. Phytic acid is an organic acid present in the outer portion of all seeds. Also known as phytates, they block the uptake of essential minerals in the intestinal tract: calcium, magnesium, iron, and especially zinc. According to research cited by the Weston A. Price Foundation, soybeans have very high levels of a form of phytic acid that is particularly difficult to neutralize -- and which interferes with zinc absorption more completely than with other minerals.
The soy industry acknowledges the problem, noting that "one-half cup of cooked soybeans contains one mg of zinc. However, zinc is poorly absorbed from soyfoods." As for iron, "both phytate and soy protein reduce iron absorption so that the iron in soyfoods is generally poorly absorbed." 
Nutritionist Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, says that as early as 1967, researchers testing soy formula found that it caused negative zinc balance in every infant to whom it was given. Even when the diets were additionally supplemented with zinc, there was a strong correlation between phytate content in formula and poor growth. She warns that "a reduced rate of growth is especially serious in the infant as it causes a delay in the accumulation of lipids in the myelin, and hence jeopardizes the development of the brain and nervous system."
Zinc and the Brain
Relatively high levels of zinc are found in the brain, especially the hippocampus. Zinc plays an important role in the transmission of the nerve impulse between brain cells. Deficiency of zinc during pregnancy and lactation has been shown to be related to many congenital abnormalities of the nervous system in offspring. In children, "insufficient levels of zinc have been associated with lowered learning ability, apathy, lethargy, and mental retardation." 
The USDA references a study of 372 Chinese school children with very low levels of zinc in their bodies. The children who received zinc supplements had the most improved performance -- especially in perception, memory, reasoning, and psychomotor skills such as eye-hand coordination. Three earlier studies with adults also showed that changes in zinc intake affected cognitive function. 
New research has identified a specific contingent of neurons, called "zinc-containing" neurons, which are found almost exclusively in the forebrain, where in mammals they have evolved into a "complex and elaborate associational network that interconnects most of the cerebral cortices and limbic structures." This suggests the importance of zinc in the normal and pathological processes of the cerebral cortex.  Furthermore, age-related tissue zinc deficiency may contribute to brain cell death in Alzheimer's
To produce soy milk, the beans are first soaked in an alkaline solution, then heated to about 115 degrees C in order to remove as much of the trypsin inhibitors as possible. Fallon says this method destroys most, but not all of the anti-nutrients, however it has the "unhappy side effect of so denaturing the proteins that they become very difficult to digest and much reduced in effectiveness." Furthermore, phytates remain in soy milk to block the uptake of essential minerals.
Only a long period of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate content of soybeans, as well as the trypsin inhibitors that interfere with enzymes and amino acids. Therefore, fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso (not tofu) provide nourishment that is easily assimilated.
Links to Further Information:
Soy Online Service (http://www.soyonlineservice.co.nz/)
Weston A. Price Foundation (http://www.westonaprice.org/)
1. White LR, Petrovich H, Ross GW, Masaki KH, Association of mid-life consumption of tofu with late life cognitive impairment and dementia: the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. Fifth International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, #487, 27 July 1996, Osaka, Japan.
2. White LR, Petrovitch H, Ross GW, Masaki KH, Hardman J, Nelson J, Davis D, Markesbery W, Brain aging and midlife tofu consumption. J Am Coll Nutr 2000 Apr;19(2):242-55.
3. Doerge and Sheehan, Letter to the FDA, Feb 18, 1999.
4. Lephart ED, Thompson JM, Setchell KD, Adlercreutz H, Weber KS, Phytoestrogens decrease brain calcium-binding proteins... Brain Res 2000 Mar 17;859(1):123-31.
5. Soy Infant Formula Could Be Harmful to Infants: Groups Want it Pulled. Nutrition Week, Dec 10,
6. Cassidy A, Bingham S, Setchell KD, Biological effects of a diet of soy protein rich in isoflavones on the menstrual cycle of premenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 1994 Sep;60(3):333-40.
7. Setchell KD, Zimmer-Nechemias L, Cai J, Heubi JE, Exposure of infants to phyto-oestrogens from soy-based infant formula. Lancet 1997 Jul 5;350(9070):23-27.
8. Enig MG, Fallon SA, Tragedy and Hype, The Third International Soy Symposium. Nexus Magazine Vol 7, No 3, April-May 2000.
9. O'Dell TJ, Kandel ER, Grant SG, Long-term potentiation in the hippocampus is blocked by tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Nature 1991 Oct 10 353:6344 558-60.
10. Bell JM, Whitmore WL, Cowdery T, Slotkin TA, Perinatal dietary supplementation with a soy lecithin preparation: effects on development of central catecholaminergic neurotransmitter systems. Brain Res Bull 1986 Aug;17(2):189-95.
11. Zetterstrom RH, Williams R, Perlmann T, Olson L, Cellular expression of the immediate early transcription factors Nurr1 and NGFI-B suggests a gene regulatory role in several brain regions including the nigrostriatal dopamine system. Brain Res Mol Brain Res 1996 Sep 5;41(1-2):111-20.
12. Castillo SO, Baffi JS, Palkovits M, Goldstein DS, Kopin IJ, Witta J, Magnuson MA, Nikodem VM, Dopamine biosynthesis is selectively abolished in substantia nigra... Mol Cell Neurosci 1998 May;11(1-2):36-46.
13. Baffi JS, Palkovits M, Castillo SO, Mezey E, Nikodem VM, Differential expression of tyrosine hydroxylase in catecholaminergic neurons of neonatal wild-type and Nurr1-deficient mice. Neuroscience 1999;93(2):631-42.
14. Shepard TH, Soybean goiter. New Eng J Med 1960;262:1099-1103.
15. Divi RL, Chang HC, Doerge DR, Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanisms of action.Biochem Pharmacol 1997 Nov 15;54(10):1087-96.
16. Ishizuki Y, Hirooka Y, Murata Y, Togashi K,The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally in healthy subjects. Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi 1991 May 20;67(5):622-29.
17. Fort P, Moses N, Fasano M, Goldberg T, Lifshitz F, Breast and soy-formula feedings in early infancy and the prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease in children. J Am Coll Nutr 1990 Apr;9(2):164-67.
18. Fort P, Lanes R, Dahlem S, Recker B, Weyman-Daum M, Pugliese M, Lifshitz FJ, Breast feeding and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in children. Am Coll Nutr 1986;5(5):439-41.
19. Regulatory Guidance in Other Countries: New Zealand Ministry of Health Position Statement on Soy Formulas (Adobe Acrobat file).
20. Haddow JE, Palomaki GE, Allan WC, Williams JR, Knight GJ, Gagnon J, O'Heir CE, Mitchell ML, Hermos RJ, Waisbren SE, Faix JD, Klein RZ, Maternal thyroid deficiency during pregnancy and subsequent neuropsychological development of the child. N Engl J Med 1999 Aug 19;341(8):549-55.
21. Hauser P, McMillin JM, Bhatara VS, Resistance to thyroid hormone: implications for neurodevelopmental research on the effects of thyroid hormone disruptors. Toxicol Ind Health 1998 Jan-Apr;14(1-2):85-101.
24. Porter WP, Jaeger JW, Carlson IH, Endocrine, immune and behavioral effects of aldicarb (carbamate), atrazine (triazine) and nitrate (fertilizer) mixtures at groundwater concentrations. Toxicol Ind Health 1999 Jan-Mar;15(1-2):133-50.
25. Watson, Traci, Common herbicide likely causes cancer. USA Today, June 29, 2000.
26. Nelson L, American Academy of Neurology's 52nd annual meeting in San Diego, CA, April 29-May 6, 2000.
27. McGraw M, Bishop N, Jameson R, Robinson MJ, O'Hara M, Hewitt CD, Day JP, Aluminium content of milk formulae and intravenous fluids used in infants. Lancet 1986 Jan 18;1(8473):157.
28. Dabeka RW, McKenzie AD, Lead, cadmium, and fluoride levels in market milk and infant formulas in Canada. J Assoc Off Anal Chem 1987;70(4):754-57.
29. Silva M, Reynolds EC, Fluoride content of infant formulae in Australia. Aust Dent J 1996 Feb;41(1):37-42.
30. Pendrys DG, Katz RV, Morse DE, Risk factors for enamel fluorosis in a fluoridated population. Am J Epidemiol 1994 Sep 1;140(5):461-71.
31. Schettler T, Stein J, Reich F, Valenti M, In Harm's Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development. Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, May 2000.
32. Studies Dealing with Fluoride and the Thyroid Gland. See also: Fluoride Controversy in Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients.
33. Galetti PM, Joyet, G, Effect of fluorine on thyroidal iodine metabolism in hyperthyroidism. J Clin Endocrinol 1958;18:1102-10.
34. Bachinskii PP, Gutsalenko OA, Naryzhniuk ND, Sidora VD, Shliakhta AI, Action of the body fluorine of healthy persons and thyroidopathy patients on the function of hypophyseal-thyroid the system. Probl Endokrinol (Mosk) 1985 Nov-Dec;31(6):25-29.
35. Fluoridation Status of Some Countries, Fluoride: Protected Pollutant or Panacea?
36. Soy Nutritive Content, United Soybean Board.
37. Pfeiffer CC, Braverman ER, Zinc, the brain and behavior. Biol Psychiatry 1982 Apr;17(4):513-32.
38. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Food & Nutrition Research Briefs, July 1997.
39. Frederickson CJ, Suh SW, Silva D, Frederickson CJ, Thompson RB, Importance of zinc in the central nervous system: the zinc-containing neuron. J Nutr 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1471S-83S.
40. Ho LH, Ratnaike RN, Zalewski PD, Involvement of intracellular labile zinc in suppression of DEVD-caspase activity in human neuroblastoma cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2000 Feb 5;268(1):148-54.
Originally Appearing on Brain.com
Newest Research On Why You Should Avoid Soy
Page 1 of 3 (Page 2, Page 3)
by Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
Cinderella's Dark Side
The propaganda that has created the soy sales miracle is all the more remarkable because, only a few decades ago, the soybean was considered unfit to eat - even in Asia. During the Chou Dynasty (1134-246 BC) the soybean was designated 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 emphasizes the root structure. Agricultural literature of the period speaks frequently of the soybean and its use in crop rotation. Apparently the soy plant was initially used as a method of fixing nitrogen.13
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 like tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce.
At a later date, possibly in the 2nd century BC, Chinese scientists discovered that a purée of cooked soybeans could be 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.
The Chinese did not eat unfermented soybeans as they did other legumes such as lentils because 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.14
Soybeans also contain haemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together.
Trypsin inhibitors and haemagglutinin are growth inhibitors. Weanling rats fed soy containing these antinutrients fail to grow normally. Growth-depressant compounds are deactivated during the process of fermentation, so once the Chinese discovered how to ferment the soybean, they began to incorporate soy foods into their diets.
In precipitated products, enzyme inhibitors concentrate in the soaking liquid rather than in the curd. Thus, in tofu and bean curd, growth depressants are reduced in quantity but not completely eliminated.
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 our foods.
Soybeans are high in phytic acid, present in the bran or hulls of all seeds. It's a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals - calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc - in the intestinal tract.
Although not a household word, phytic acid has been extensively studied; there are literally hundreds of articles on the effects of phytic acid in the current scientific literature. Scientists are in general agreement that grain- and legume-based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral deficiencies in third world countries.15
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.
The soybean has one of the highest phytate levels of any grain or legume that has been studied,16 and the phytates in soy are highly resistant to normal phytate-reducing techniques such as long, slow cooking.17 Only a long period of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate content of soybeans.
When precipitated soy products like tofu are consumed with meat, the mineral-blocking effects of the phytates are reduced.18 The Japanese traditionally eat a small amount of tofu or miso as part of a mineral-rich fish broth, followed by a serving of meat or fish.
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 called the intelligence mineral because it is needed for optimal development and functioning of the brain and nervous system. It plays a role in protein synthesis and collagen formation; it is involved in the blood-sugar control mechanism and thus protects against diabetes; it is needed for a healthy reproductive system.
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.19 Zinc deficiency can cause a "spacey" feeling that some vegetarians may mistake for the "high" of spiritual enlightenment.
Milk drinking is given as the reason why second-generation Japanese in America grow taller than their native ancestors. Some investigators postulate that the reduced phytate content of the American diet - whatever may be its other deficiencies - is the true explanation, pointing out that both Asian and Western children who do not get enough meat and fish products to counteract the effects of a high phytate diet, frequently suffer rickets, stunting and other growth problems.20
Soy Protein Isolate: Not So Friendly
Soy processors have worked hard to get these antinutrients out of the finished product, particularly soy protein isolate (SPI) which is the key ingredient in most soy foods that imitate meat and dairy products, including baby formulas and some brands of soy milk.
SPI is not something you can make in your own kitchen. Production takes place in industrial factories where a slurry of soy beans is first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution.
Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. The resultant curds are spray- dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder. A final indignity to the original soybean is high-temperature, high-pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce textured vegetable protein (TVP).
Much of the trypsin inhibitor content can be removed through high-temperature processing, but not all. Trypsin inhibitor content of soy protein isolate can vary as much as fivefold.21 (In rats, even low-level trypsin inhibitor SPI feeding results in reduced weight gain compared to controls.22)
But high-temperature processing has the unfortunate side-effect of so denaturing the other proteins in soy that they are rendered largely ineffective.23 That's why animals on soy feed need lysine supplements for normal growth.
Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray-drying, and a toxin called lysinoalanine is formed during alkaline processing.24 Numerous artificial flavorings, particularly MSG, are added to soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein products to mask their strong "beany" taste and to impart the flavor of meat.25
In feeding experiments, the use of SPI increased requirements for vitamins E, K, D and B12 and created deficiency symptoms of calcium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, iron and zinc.26 Phytic acid remaining in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and iron absorption; test animals fed SPI develop enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, and increased deposition of fatty acids in the liver.27
Yet soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein are used extensively in school lunch programs, commercial baked goods, diet beverages and fast food products. They are heavily promoted in third world countries and form the basis of many food giveaway programs.
In spite of poor results in animal feeding trials, the soy industry has sponsored a number of studies designed to show that soy protein products can be used in human diets as a replacement for traditional foods.
An example is "Nutritional Quality of Soy Bean Protein Isolates: Studies in Children of Preschool Age", sponsored by the Ralston Purina Company.28 A group of Central American children suffering from malnutrition was first stabilized and brought into better health by feeding them native foods, including meat and dairy products. Then, for a two-week period, these traditional foods were replaced by a drink made of soy protein isolate and sugar.
All nitrogen taken in and all nitrogen excreted was measured in truly Orwellian fashion: the children were weighed naked every morning, and all excrement and vomit gathered up for analysis. The researchers found that the children retained nitrogen and that their growth was "adequate", so the experiment was declared a success.
Whether the children were actually healthy on such a diet, or could remain so over a long period, is another matter. The researchers noted that the children vomited "occasionally", usually after finishing a meal; that over half suffered from periods of moderate diarrhea; that some had upper respiratory infections; and that others suffered from rash and fever.
It should be noted that the researchers did not dare to use soy products to help the children recover from malnutrition, and were obliged to supplement the soy-sugar mixture with nutrients largely absent in soy products - notably, vitamins A, D and B12, iron, iodine and zinc.
Marketing The Perfect Food
"Just imagine you could grow the perfect food. This food not only would provide affordable nutrition, but also would be delicious and easy to prepare in a variety of ways. It would be a healthful food, with no saturated fat. In fact, you would be growing a virtual fountain of youth on your back forty."
The author is Dean Houghton, writing for The Furrow,2 a magazine published in 12 languages by John Deere. "This ideal food would help prevent, and perhaps reverse, some of the world's most dreaded diseases. You could grow this miracle crop in a variety of soils and climates. Its cultivation would build up, not deplete, the land...this miracle food already exists... It's called soy."
Just imagine. Farmers have been imagining - and planting more soy. What was once a minor crop, listed in the 1913 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) handbook not as a food but as an industrial product, now covers 72 million acres of American farmland. Much of this harvest will be used to feed chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows and salmon. Another large fraction will be squeezed to produce oil for margarine, shortenings and salad dressings.
Advances in technology make it possible to produce isolated soy protein from what was once considered a waste product - the defatted, high-protein soy chips - and then transform something that looks and smells terrible into products that can be consumed by human beings. Flavorings, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers and synthetic nutrients have turned soy protein isolate, the food processors' ugly duckling, into a New Age Cinderella.
The new fairy-tale food has been marketed not so much for her beauty but for her virtues. Early on, products based on soy protein isolate were sold as extenders and meat substitutes - a strategy that failed to produce the requisite consumer demand. The industry changed its approach.
"The quickest way to gain product acceptability in the less affluent society," said an industry spokesman, "is to have the product consumed on its own merit in a more affluent society."3 So soy is now sold to the upscale consumer, not as a cheap, poverty food but as a miracle substance that will prevent heart disease and cancer, whisk away hot flushes, build strong bones and keep us forever young.
The competition - meat, milk, cheese, butter and eggs - has been duly demonised by the appropriate government bodies. Soy serves as meat and milk for a new generation of virtuous vegetarians.
Marketing Costs Money
This is especially when it needs to be bolstered with "research", but there's plenty of funds available. All soybean producers pay a mandatory assessment of one-half to one per cent of the net market price of soybeans. The total - something like US$80 million annually4 - supports United Soybean's program to "strengthen the position of soybeans in the marketplace and maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets for uses for soybeans and soybean products".
State soybean councils from Maryland, Nebraska, Delaware, Arkansas, Virginia, North Dakota and Michigan provide another $2.5 million for "research".5 Private companies like Archer Daniels Midland also contribute their share. ADM spent $4.7 million for advertising on Meet the Press and $4.3 million on Face the Nation during the course of a year.6
Public relations firms help convert research projects into newspaper articles and advertising copy, and law firms lobby for favorable government regulations. IMF money funds soy processing plants in foreign countries, and free trade policies keep soybean abundance flowing to overseas destinations.
The push for more soy has been relentless and global in its reach. Soy protein is now found in most supermarket breads. It is being used to transform "the humble tortilla, Mexico's corn-based staple food, into a protein-fortified 'super-tortilla' that would give a nutritional boost to the nearly 20 million Mexicans who live in extreme poverty".7 Advertising for a new soy-enriched loaf from Allied Bakeries in Britain targets menopausal women seeking relief from hot flushes. Sales are running at a quarter of a million loaves per week.8
The soy industry hired Norman Robert Associates, a public relations firm, to "get more soy products onto school menus".9 The USDA responded with a proposal to scrap the 30 per cent limit for soy in school lunches. The NuMenu program would allow unlimited use of soy in student meals. With soy added to hamburgers, tacos and lasagna, dieticians can get the total fat content below 30 per cent of calories, thereby conforming to government dictates. "With the soy-enhanced food items, students are receiving better servings of nutrients and less cholesterol and fat."
Soy milk has posted the biggest gains, soaring from $2 million in 1980 to $300 million in the US last year.10 Recent advances in processing have transformed the gray, thin, bitter, beany-tasting Asian beverage into a product that Western consumers will accept - one that tastes like a milkshake, but without the guilt.
Processing miracles, good packaging, massive advertising and a marketing strategy that stresses the products' possible health benefits account for increasing sales to all age groups. For example, reports that soy helps prevent prostate cancer have made soy milk acceptable to middle-aged men. "You don't have to twist the arm of a 55- to 60-year-old guy to get him to try soy milk," says Mark Messina. Michael Milken, former junk bond financier, has helped the industry shed its hippie image with well-publicized efforts to consume 40 grams of soy protein daily.
America today, tomorrow the world. Soy milk sales are rising in Canada, even though soy milk there costs twice as much as cow's milk. Soybean milk processing plants are sprouting up in places like Kenya.11 Even China, where soy really is a poverty food and whose people want more meat, not tofu, has opted to build Western-style soy factories rather than develop western grasslands for grazing animals.12
FDA Health Claim Challenged
On October 25, 1999 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to allow a health claim for products "low in saturated fat and cholesterol" that contain 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving. Breakfast cereals, baked goods, convenience food, smoothie mixes and meat substitutes could now be sold with labels touting benefits to cardiovascular health, as long as these products contained one heaping teaspoon of soy protein per 100-gram serving.
The best marketing strategy for a product that is inherently unhealthy is, of course, a health claim.
"The road to FDA approval," writes a soy apologist, "was long and demanding, consisting of a detailed review of human clinical data collected from more than 40 scientific studies conducted over the last 20 years. Soy protein was found to be one of the rare foods that had sufficient scientific evidence not only to qualify for an FDA health claim proposal but to ultimately pass the rigorous approval process."29
The "long and demanding" road to FDA approval actually took a few unexpected turns. The original petition, submitted by Protein Technology International, requested a health claim for isoflavones, the estrogen-like compounds found plentifully in soybeans, based on assertions that "only soy protein that has been processed in a manner in which isoflavones are retained will result in cholesterol lowering".
In 1998, the FDA made the unprecedented move of rewriting PTI's petition, removing any reference to the phyto-estrogens and substituting a claim for soy protein - a move that was in direct contradiction to the agency's regulations. The FDA is authorized to make rulings only on substances presented by petition.
The abrupt change in direction was no doubt due to the fact that a number of researchers, including scientists employed by the US Government, submitted documents indicating that isoflavones are toxic.
The FDA had also received, early in 1998, the final British Government report on phytoestrogens, which failed to find much evidence of benefit and warned against potential adverse effects.30
Even with the change to soy protein isolate, FDA bureaucrats engaged in the "rigorous approval process" were forced to deal nimbly with concerns about mineral blocking effects, enzyme inhibitors, goitrogenicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems and increased allergic reactions from consumption of soy products.31
One of the strongest letters of protest came from Dr Dan Sheehan and Dr Daniel Doerge, government researchers at the National Center for Toxicological Research.32 Their pleas for warning labels were dismissed as unwarranted.
"Sufficient scientific evidence" of soy's cholesterol-lowering properties is drawn largely from a 1995 meta-analysis by Dr James Anderson, sponsored by Protein Technologies International and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.33
A meta-analysis is a review and summary of the results of many clinical studies on the same subject. Use of meta-analyses to draw general conclusions has come under sharp criticism by members of the scientific community.
"Researchers substituting meta-analysis for more rigorous trials risk making faulty assumptions and indulging in creative accounting," says Sir John Scott, President of the Royal Society of New Zealand. "Like is not being lumped with like. Little lumps and big lumps of data are being gathered together by various groups."34
There is the added temptation for researchers, particularly researchers funded by a company like Protein Technologies International, to leave out studies that would prevent the desired conclusions. Dr Anderson discarded eight studies for various reasons, leaving a remainder of twenty-nine.
The published report suggested that individuals with cholesterol levels over 250 mg/dl would experience a "significant" reduction of 7 to 20 per cent in levels of serum cholesterol if they substituted soy protein for animal protein. Cholesterol reduction was insignificant for individuals whose cholesterol was lower than 250 mg/dl.
In other words, for most of us, giving up steak and eating vegieburgers instead will not bring down blood cholesterol levels. The health claim that the FDA approved "after detailed review of human clinical data" fails to inform the consumer about these important details.
Research that ties soy to positive effects on cholesterol levels is "incredibly immature", said Ronald M. Krauss, MD, head of the Molecular Medical Research Program and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.35 He might have added that studies in which cholesterol levels were lowered through either diet or drugs have consistently resulted in a greater number of deaths in the treatment groups than in controls - deaths from stroke, cancer, intestinal disorders, accident and suicide.36
Cholesterol-lowering measures in the US have fuelled a $60 billion per year cholesterol-lowering industry, but have not saved us from the ravages of heart disease.
Newest Research On Why You Should Avoid Soy
Page 2 of 3 (Page 1, Page 3)
Soy And Cancer
The new FDA ruling does not allow any claims about cancer prevention on food packages, but that has not restrained the industry and its marketers from making them in their promotional literature.
"In addition to protecting the heart," says a vitamin company brochure, "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."37
Indeed they do. But the Japanese, and Asians in general, have much higher rates of other types of cancer, particularly cancer of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas and liver.38 Asians throughout the world also have high rates of thyroid cancer.39 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, particularly as soy causes these types of cancers in laboratory rats.
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.40 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.41
Assuming that two-thirds of legume consumption is soy, then the maximum consumption is about 40 grams, or less than three tablespoons per day, with an average consumption of about nine grams, or less than two teaspoons. A survey conducted in the 1930s found that soy foods accounted for only 1.5 per cent of calories in the Chinese diet, compared with 65 per cent of calories from pork.42 (Asians traditionally cooked with lard, not vegetable oil!)
Traditionally fermented soy products make a delicious, natural seasoning that may supply important nutritional factors in the Asian diet. But 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.
It was a 1994 meta-analysis by Mark Messina, published in Nutrition and Cancer, that fuelled speculation on soy's anticarcinogenic properties.43 Messina noted that in 26 animal studies, 65 per cent reported protective effects from soy. He conveniently neglected to include at least one study in which soy feeding caused pancreatic cancer - the 1985 study by Rackis.44 In the human studies he listed, the results were mixed.
A few showed some protective effect, but most showed no correlation at all between soy consumption and cancer rates. He concluded that "the data in this review cannot be used as a basis for claiming that soy intake decreases cancer risk". Yet in his subsequent book, The Simple Soybean and Your Health, Messina makes just such a claim, recommending one cup or 230 grams of soy products per day in his "optimal" diet as a way to prevent cancer.
Thousands of women are now consuming soy in the belief that it protects them against breast cancer. Yet, in 1996, researchers found that women consuming soy protein isolate had an increased incidence of epithelial hyperplasia, a condition that presages malignancies.45 A year later, dietary genistein was found to stimulate breast cells to enter the cell cycle - a discovery that led the study authors to conclude that women should not consume soy products to prevent breast cancer.46
Phytoestrogens: Panacea Or Poison?
The male species of tropical birds carries the drab plumage of the female at birth and 'colors up' at maturity, somewhere between nine and 24 months.
In 1991, Richard and Valerie James, bird breeders in Whangerai, New Zealand, purchased a new kind of feed for their birds - one based largely on soy protein.47 When soy-based feed was used, their birds 'colored up' after just a few months. In fact, one bird-food manufacturer claimed that this early development was an advantage imparted by the feed.
A 1992 ad for Roudybush feed formula showed a picture of the male crimson rosella, an Australian parrot that acquires beautiful red plumage at 18 to 24 months, already brightly colored at 11 weeks old.
Unfortunately, in the ensuing years, there was decreased fertility in the birds, with precocious maturation, deformed, stunted and stillborn babies, and premature deaths, especially among females, with the result that the total population in the aviaries went into steady decline.
The birds suffered beak and bone deformities, goiter, immune system disorders and pathological, aggressive behavior. Autopsy revealed digestive organs in a state of disintegration. The list of problems corresponded with many of the problems the Jameses had encountered in their two children, who had been fed soy-based infant formula.
Startled, aghast, angry, the Jameses hired toxicologist Mike Fitzpatrick. PhD, to investigate further. Dr Fitzpatrick's literature review uncovered evidence that soy consumption has been linked to numerous disorders, including infertility, increased cancer and infantile leukemia; and, in studies dating back to the 1950s,48 that genistein in soy causes endocrine disruption in animals.
Dr Fitzpatrick also analyzed the bird feed and found that it contained high levels of phytoestrogens, especially genistein. When the Jameses discontinued using soy-based feed, the flock gradually returned to normal breeding habits and behavior.
The Jameses embarked on a private crusade to warn the public and government officials about toxins in soy foods, particularly the endocrine-disrupting isoflavones, genistein and diadzen. Protein Technology International received their material in 1994.
In 1991, Japanese researchers reported that consumption of as little as 30 grams or two tablespoons of soybeans per day for only one month resulted in a significant increase in thyroid-stimulating hormone.49 Diffuse goiter and hypothyroidism appeared in some of the subjects and many complained of constipation, fatigue and lethargy, even though their intake of iodine was adequate.
In 1997, researchers from the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research made the embarrassing discovery that the goitrogenic components of soy were the very same isoflavones.50
Twenty-five grams of soy protein isolate, the minimum amount PTI claimed to have cholesterol-lowering effects, contains from 50 to 70 mg of isoflavones. It took only 45 mg of isoflavones in premenopausal women to exert significant biological effects, including a reduction in hormones needed for adequate thyroid function. These effects lingered for three months after soy consumption was discontinued.51
One hundred grams of soy protein - the maximum suggested cholesterol-lowering dose, and the amount recommended by Protein Technologies International - can contain almost 600 mg of isoflavones,52 an amount that is undeniably toxic. In 1992, the Swiss health service estimated that 100 grams of soy protein provided the estrogenic equivalent of the Pill.53
In vitro studies suggest that isoflavones inhibit synthesis of estradiol and other steroid hormones.54 Reproductive problems, infertility, thyroid disease and liver disease due to dietary intake of isoflavones have been observed for several species of animals including mice, cheetah, quail, pigs, rats, sturgeon and sheep.55
It is the isoflavones in soy that are said to have a favorable effect on postmenopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, and protection from osteoporosis. Quantification of discomfort from hot flushes is extremely subjective, and most studies show that control subjects report reduction in discomfort in amounts equal to subjects given soy.56 The claim that soy prevents osteoporosis is extraordinary, given that soy foods block calcium and cause vitamin D deficiencies.
If Asians indeed have lower rates of osteoporosis than Westerners, it is because their diet provides plenty of vitamin D from shrimp, lard and seafood, and plenty of calcium from bone broths. The reason that Westerners have such high rates of osteoporosis is because they have substituted soy oil for butter, which is a traditional source of vitamin D and other fat-soluble activators needed for calcium absorption.
Birth Control Pills For Babies
But it was the isoflavones in infant formula that gave the Jameses the most cause for concern. In 1998, investigators reported that the daily exposure of infants to isoflavones in soy infant formula is 6 to11 times higher on a body-weight basis than the dose that has hormonal effects in adults consuming soy foods. Circulating concentrations of isoflavones in infants fed soy-based formula were 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than plasma estradiol concentrations in infants on cow's milk formula.57
Approximately 25 per cent of bottle-fed children in the US receive soy-based formula - a much higher percentage than in other parts of the Western world. Fitzpatrick estimated that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth control pills per day.58 By contrast, almost no phytoestrogens have been detected in dairy-based infant formula or in human milk, even when the mother consumes soy products.
Scientists have known for years that soy-based formula can cause thyroid problems in babies. But 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, but also in setting patterns in the brain characteristic of male behavior.
In monkeys, deficiency of male hormones impairs the development of spatial perception (which, in humans, is normally more acute in men than in women), of learning ability and of visual discrimination tasks (such as would be required for reading).59 It goes without saying that future patterns of sexual orientation may also be influenced by the early hormonal environment.
Male children exposed during gestation to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen that has effects on animals similar to those of phytoestrogens from soy, had testes smaller than normal on manturation.60
Learning disabilities, especially in male children, have reached epidemic proportions. Soy infant feeding - which began in earnest in the early 1970s - cannot be ignored as a probable cause for these tragic developments.
As for girls, an alarming number are entering puberty much earlier than normal, according to a recent study reported in the journal Pediatrics.61 Investigators found that one per cent 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 per cent of white girls and almost 50 per cent of African-American girls have 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.62 In the 1986 Puerto Rico Premature Thelarche study, the most significant dietary association with premature sexual development was not chicken - as reported in the press - but soy infant formula.63
The consequences of this truncated childhood are tragic. Young girls with mature bodies must cope with feelings and urges that most children are not well-equipped to handle. And early maturation in girls is frequently a harbinger for problems with the reproductive system later in life, including failure to menstruate, infertility and breast cancer.
Parents who have contacted the Jameses recount other problems associated with children of both sexes who were fed soy-based formula, including extreme emotional behavior, asthma, immune system problems, pituitary insufficiency, thyroid disorders and irritable bowel syndrome - the same endocrine and digestive havoc that afflicted the Jameses' parrots.
Dissension In The Ranks
Organizers of the Third International Soy Symposium would be hard-pressed to call the conference an unqualified success. On the second day of the symposium, the London-based Food Commission and the Weston A. Price Foundation of Washington, DC, held a joint press conference, in the same hotel as the symposium, to present concerns about soy infant formula.
Industry representatives sat stony-faced through the recitation of potential dangers and a plea from concerned scientists and parents to pull soy-based infant formula from the market. Under pressure from the Jameses, the New Zealand Government had issued a health warning about soy infant formula in 1998; it was time for the American government to do the same.
On the last day of the symposium, presentations on new findings related to toxicity sent a well-oxygenated chill through the giddy helium hype. Dr Lon White reported on a study of Japanese Americans living in Hawaii, that showed a significant statistical relationship between two or more servings of tofu a week and "accelerated brain aging".64
Those participants who consumed tofu in mid-life had lower cognitive function in late life and a greater incidence of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. "What's more," said Dr White, "those who ate a lot of tofu, by the time they were 75 or 80 looked five years older".65 White and his colleagues blamed the negative effects on isoflavones - a finding that supports an earlier study in which postmenopausal women with higher levels of circulating estrogen experienced greater cognitive decline.66
Scientists Daniel Sheehan and Daniel Doerge, from the National Center for Toxicological Research, ruined PTI's day by presenting findings from rat feeding studies, indicating that genistein in soy foods causes irreversible damage to enzymes that synthesise thyroid hormones.67
"The association between soybean consumption and goiter in animals and humans has a long history," wrote Dr Doerge. "Current evidence for the beneficial effects of soy requires a full understanding of potential adverse effects as well."
Dr Claude Hughes reported that rats born to mothers that were fed genistein had decreased birth weights compared to controls, and onset of puberty occurred earlier in male offspring.68 His research suggested that the effects observed in rats "...will be at least somewhat predictive of what occurs in humans.
There is no reason to assume that there will be gross malformations of fetuses but there may be subtle changes, such as neurobehavioral attributes, immune function and sex hormone levels." The results, he said, "could be nothing or could be something of great concern...if mom is eating something that can act like sex hormones, it is logical to wonder if that could change the baby's development".69
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.70 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 because it's 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.
Question Marks Over GRAS Status
Lurking in the background of industry hype for soy is the nagging question of whether it's even legal to add soy protein isolate to food. All food additives not in common use prior to 1958, including casein protein from milk, must 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 because, 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.71
The scientific literature up to 1974 recognized many antinutrients in factory-made soy protein, including trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid and genistein. But the FDA literature review dismissed discussion of adverse impacts, with the statement that it was important for "adequate processing" to remove them.
Genistein could be removed with an alcohol wash, but it was an expensive procedure that processors avoided. Later studies determined that trypsin inhibitor content could be removed only with long periods of heat and pressure, but the FDA has imposed no requirements for manufacturers to do so.
The FDA was more concerned with toxins formed during processing, specifically nitrites and lysinoalanine.72 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 never 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 must be subject to premarket approval procedures each time manufacturers intend to use it as a food or add it to a food.
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.
The Next Asbestos?
"Against the backdrop of widespread praise...there is growing suspicion that soy - despite its undisputed benefits - may pose some health hazards," writes Marian Burros, a leading food writer for the New York Times. More than any other writer, Ms Burros's endorsement of a low-fat, largely vegetarian diet has herded Americans into supermarket aisles featuring soy foods.
Yet her January 26, 2000 article, "Doubts Cloud Rosy News on Soy", contains the following alarming statement: "Not one of the 18 scientists interviewed for this column was willing to say that taking isoflavones was risk free." Ms Burros did not enumerate the risks, nor did she mention that the recommended 25 daily grams of soy protein contain enough isoflavones to cause problems in sensitive individuals, but it was evident that the industry had recognized the need to cover itself.
Because the industry is extremely exposed...contingency lawyers will soon discover that the number of potential plaintiffs can be counted in the millions and the pockets are very, very deep. Juries will hear something like the following: "The industry has known for years that soy contains many toxins.
At first they told the public that the toxins were removed by processing. When it became apparent that processing could not get rid of them, they claimed that these substances were beneficial. Your government granted a health claim to a substance that is poisonous, and the industry lied to the public to sell more soy."
The "industry" includes merchants, manufacturers, scientists, publicists, bureaucrats, former bond financiers, food writers, vitamin companies and retail stores. Farmers will probably escape because they were duped like the rest of us. But they need to find something else to grow before the soy bubble bursts and the market collapses: grass-fed livestock, designer vegetables...or hemp to make paper for thousands and thousands of legal briefs.
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 7, Number 3 (April-May 2000)
About the Authors:
Sally Fallon is the author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (1999, 2nd edition, New Trends Publishing, tel +1 877 707 1776 or +1 219 268 2601) and President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Washington, DC (www.WestonAPrice.org)
Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., a nutritionist widely known for her research on the nutritional aspects of fats and oils, is a consultant, clinician, and the Director of the Nutritional Sciences Division of Enig Associates, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland.
She received her PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1984, taught a graduate course in nutrient-drug interactions for the University's Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences, and held a Faculty Research Associateship from 1984 through 1991 with the Lipids Research Group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Dr. Enig is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, and a member of the American Institute of Nutrition. Her many years of experience as a "bench chemist" in the analysis of food fats and oils, provides a foundation for her active roles in food labeling and composition issues at the federal and state levels.
Dr. Enig is a Consulting Editor to the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" and formerly served as a Contributing Editor to "Clinical Nutrition." She has published 14 scientific papers on the subject of food fats and oils, several chapters on nutrition for books, and presented over 35 scientific papers on food and nutrition topics.
She is the President of the Maryland Nutritionists Association, past President of the Coalition of Nutritionists of Maryland and was appointed by the Governor in 1986 to the Maryland State Advisory Council on Nutrition and served as the Chairman of the Health Subcommittee until the Council was disbanded in 1988.
Sally Fallon and Dr. Enig are to be highly commended for this much needed soy update. Together they have compiled the most definitive document to date on why one should avoid soy. This is a MAJOR work and I am hoping to promote it for the national media attention that it deserves.
Another article on How Much Soy Asians Actually Eat
1. Program for the Third International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease, Sunday,
October 31, through Wednesday, November 3, 1999, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC.
2. Houghton, Dean, "Healthful Harvest", The Furrow, January 2000, pp. 10-13.
3. Coleman, Richard J., "Vegetable Protein - A Delayed Birth?" Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 52:238A, April 1975.
4. See www/unitedsoybean.org.
5. These are listed in www.soyonlineservice.co.nz.
6. Wall Street Journal, October 27, 1995.
7. Smith, James F., "Healthier tortillas could lead to healthier Mexico", Denver Post, August 22, 1999, p. 26A.
8. "Bakery says new loaf can help reduce hot flushes", Reuters, September 15, 1997.
9. "Beefing Up Burgers with Soy Products at School", Nutrition Week, Community Nutrition Institute, Washington, DC, June 5, 1998, p. 2.
10. Urquhart, John, "A Health Food Hits Big Time", Wall Street Journal, August 3, 1999, p. B1
11. "Soyabean Milk Plant in Kenya", Africa News Service, September 1998.
12. Simoons, Frederick J., Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 1991, p. 64.
13. Katz, Solomon H., "Food and Biocultural Evolution: A Model for the Investigation of Modern Nutritional Problems", Nutritional Anthropology, Alan R. Liss Inc., 1987, p. 50.
14. Rackis, Joseph J. et al., "The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and procedural details", Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.
15. Van Rensburg et al., "Nutritional status of African populations predisposed to esophageal cancer", Nutrition and Cancer, vol. 4, 1983, pp. 206-216; Moser, P.B. et al., "Copper, iron, zinc and selenium dietary intake and status of Nepalese lactating women and their breastfed infants", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 47:729-734, April 1988; Harland, B.F. et al., "Nutritional status and phytate: zinc and phytate X calcium: zinc dietary molar ratios of lacto-ovovegetarian Trappist monks: 10 years later", Journal of the American Dietetic Association 88:1562-1566, December 1988.
16. El Tiney, A.H., "Proximate Composition and Mineral and Phytate Contents of Legumes Grown in Sudan", Journal of Food Composition and Analysis (1989) 2:6778.
17. Ologhobo, A.D. et al., "Distribution of phosphorus and phytate in some Nigerian varieties of legumes and some effects of processing", Journal of Food Science 49(1):199-201, January/February 1984.
18. Sandstrom, B. et al., "Effect of protein level and protein source on zinc absorption in humans", Journal of Nutrition 119(1):48-53, January 1989; Tait, Susan et al., "The availability of minerals in food, with particular reference to iron", Journal of Research in Society and Health 103(2):74-77, April 1983.
19. Phytate reduction of zinc absorption has been demonstrated in numerous studies. These results are summarised in Leviton, Richard, Tofu, Tempeh, Miso and Other Soyfoods: The 'Food of the Future' - How to Enjoy Its Spectacular Health Benefits, Keats Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, CT, USA, 1982, p. 1415.
20. Mellanby, Edward, "Experimental rickets: The effect of cereals and their interaction with other factors of diet and environment in producing rickets", Journal of the Medical Research Council 93:265, March 1925; Wills, M.R. et al., "Phytic Acid and Nutritional Rickets in Immigrants", The Lancet, April 8,1972, pp. 771-773.
21. Rackis et al., ibid.
22. Rackis et al., ibid., p. 232.
23. Wallace, G.M., "Studies on the Processing and Properties of Soymilk", Journal of Science and Food Agriculture 22:526-535, October 1971.
24. Rackis, et al., ibid., p. 22; "Evaluation of the Health Aspects of Soy Protein Isolates as Food Ingredients", prepared for FDA by Life Sciences Research Office, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20014), USA, Contract No. FDA 223-75-2004, 1979.
25. See www/truthinlabeling.org.
26. Rackis, Joseph, J., "Biological and Physiological Factors in Soybeans", Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 51:161A-170A, January 1974.
27. Rackis, Joseph J. et al., "The USDA trypsin inhibitor study", ibid.
28. Torum, Benjamin, "Nutritional Quality of Soybean Protein Isolates: Studies in Children of Preschool Age", in Soy Protein and Human Nutrition, Harold L Wilcke et al. (eds), Academic Press, New York, 1979.
29. Zreik, Marwin, CCN, "The Great Soy Protein Awakening", Total Health 32(1), February 2000.
30. IEH Assessment on Phytoestrogens in the Human Diet, Final Report to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, UK, November 1997, p. 11.
31. Food Labeling: Health Claims: Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease, Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR, Part 101 (Docket No. 98P-0683).
32. Sheegan, Daniel M. and Daniel R Doerge, Letter to Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), February 18, 1999.
33. Anderson, James W. et al., "Meta-analysis of the Effects of Soy Protein Intake on Serum Lipids", New England Journal of Medicine (1995) 333:(5):276-282.
34. Guy, Camille, "Doctors warned against magic, quackery", New Zealand Herald, September 9, 1995, section 8, p. 5.
35. Sander, Kate and Hilary Wilson, "FDA approves new health claim for soy, but litte fallout expected for dairy", Cheese Market News, October 22, 1999, p. 24.
36. Enig, Mary G. and Sally Fallon, "The Oiling of America", NEXUS Magazine, December 1998-January 1999 and February-March 1999; also available at www.WestonAPrice.org.
37. Natural Medicine News (L & H Vitamins, 32-33 47th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101), USA, January/February 2000, p. 8.
38. Harras, Angela (ed.), Cancer Rates and Risks, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1996, 4th edition.
39. Searle, Charles E. (ed.), Chemical Carcinogens, ACS Monograph 173, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 1976.
40. Nagata, C. et al., Journal of Nutrition (1998) 128:209-213.
41. Campbell, Colin T. et al., The Cornell Project in China.
42. Chang, K.C. (ed.), Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, New Haven, 1977.
43. Messina, Mark J. et al., "Soy Intake and Cancer Risk: A Review of the In Vitro and In Vivo Data", Nutrition and Cancer (1994) 21(2):113-131.
44. Rackis et al, "The USDA trypsin inhibitor study", ibid.
45. Petrakis, N.L. et al., "Stimulatory influence of soy protein isolate on breast secretion in pre- and post-menopausal women", Cancer Epid. Bio. Prev. (1996) 5:785-794.
46. Dees, C. et al., "Dietary estrogens stimulate human breast cells to enter the cell cycle", Environmental Health Perspectives (1997) 105(Suppl. 3):633-636.
47. Woodhams, D.J., "Phytoestrogens and parrots: The anatomy of an investigation", Proceedings of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand (1995) 20:22-30.
48. Matrone, G. et al., "Effect of Genistin on Growth and Development of the Male Mouse", Journal of Nutrition (1956) 235-240.
49. Ishizuki, Y. et al., "The effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally in healthy subjects", Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi (1991) 767:622-629.
50. Divi, R.L. et al., "Anti-thyroid isoflavones from the soybean", Biochemical Pharmacology (1997) 54:1087-1096.
51. Cassidy, A. et al., "Biological Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual Cycle of Premenopausal Women", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1994) 60:333-340.
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