Stefan Fobes – “Soy Blues”

Soy Blues

Stefan Fobes | July 23, 2008

Soy. Is it good or is it bad? It’s a question that’s been long twisting around in my head, and no doubt, in many many others’. My searching started with a joint study done in Indonesia by British and Indonesian university researchers where they found that people eating tofu twice a day had 20% less memory function compared to those who ate it much less. The problem is, tofu products there contain formaldehyde, (also in vaccines) so it was definitely flawed. I wouldn’t even mention this, but amazingly, these crack brains are stumped about whether or not it’s a factor when it prevents RNA from fully forming and is used to preserve corpses because it kills most bacteria and fungi. In some ways they are geniuses, but at times….aiyiyiyi.

Something more solid came up here in the form of an American Cancer Society story headlined Soy May Fuel Estrogen Positive Breast Cancers. Reading it though, there’s no may about anything. Published in the ACS’s own Cancer Research journal, here are Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Illinois William G. Helferich and his colleagues’ study info on the effects of the soy protein genistein:

Helferich and colleagues used female mice from whom ovaries had been removed so that their hormone levels would resemble those of women past menopause with very little or no estrogen circulating in the blood.

They injected human ER-positive breast cancer cells into the mice. After tumors were established, different groups of mice got low, medium, and high levels of genistein in their diets, while other mice got none.

Over a period of seven months, the tumors grew larger the more genistein was consumed. Tumors of mice getting medium amounts of genistein grew about four times larger than those getting little or none, and tumors of those getting the highest amounts of genistein grew about eight times larger than those getting the least.

I saw this National Geographic show about life in prison the other day. One of the guys locked up said prison is hell. If that’s hell, then being a lab mouse must be like being in satan’s bedroom or something.

Women going through menopause seem to be particularly vulnerable. My own mother died of breast cancer a few years back when she was 51, and pretty much all she would eat the year before that was tofu fried in olive oil. I can’t help but wonder if this played a role somehow. Another part of the article seems to support my thoughts on this.

But estrogen also can increase the risk of some cancers and can fuel the growth of breast tumors made up of cells with many receptors for estrogen (ER-positive breast cancer). So experts suggest every woman understand her own cancer risk factors and talk with her doctor about whether to use HRT.

Plant Estrogens Can Mimic Human Estrogens

It has been known for some time that some proteins in soy, such as genistein, chemically resemble human estrogen so much that they are called phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) and may have similar effects, both good and bad.

Adding more fuel to the fire is a collaborative study by an investigator out of Syracuse University and National Institute of Environmental Health [part of the National Institutes of Health] researchers. The NIEH researchers found in a previous study that the soy protein genistein caused the mice to have irregular menstrual cycles, and problems with ovulation and fertility when they reached maturity. Here’s their data for their second study.

Female mice were injected with three different doses of genistein during their first five days of life. The genistein given to the mice was comparable to what human infants might receive in a soy-based formula, which is approximately 6-9 mg/kg per day. The researchers examined the effects on days 2 through 6.

The researchers found effects at all levels. Mice treated with the high dose (Gen 50 mg/kg) were infertile and mice treated with lower doses were subfertile, meaning they had fewer pups in each litter, and fewer pregnancies. Mice receiving the highest level of genistein, 50 mg/kg per day, had a high percentage of egg cells that remain in clusters, unable to separate and therefore develop abnormally. The researchers explain that oocytes [immature egg cells] that remain in clusters are less likely to become fertilized based on previous research. The largest difference between the genistein treated and normal mice was found at six days of age where 57 percent of the egg cells in the non-treated ovaries were single or unclustered; and only 36 percent in the genistein treated group were single.

We think genistein inhibits the oocytes or egg cells from separating apart,” said Wendy Jefferson, Ph.D. of NIEHS and lead researcher on the paper. “Since there are many egg cells in the same follicle instead of just one, the resources from the surrounding cells are spread too thin and they can’t get the support they need to become a mature functioning egg cell.”

“You need at least one good healthy single oocyte that is ovulated and fertilized by a sperm to get a healthy baby. Genistein seems to have a way of making this task very difficult,” said Newbold.

Another study conducted by Dr. Irina Ermakova at the Russian Academy of Sciences on female rats, some fed genetically modified soy, some given non genetically modified soy powder, and some fed a regular diet found that 55% of the babies of the rats fed GM soy died within 3 weeks, versus 9% of the rats fed non genetically modified soy. Over a third of the rats fed GM soy were grossly underweight. This is horrendous, because as the article detailing this study admits, GM soy consumption is widespread in America.

I have an excellent Halloween costume idea.

Certainly, it doesn’t affect everyone like this, or hospitals would always be jam packed. Some people have more of a susceptibility to these symptoms than others, but as the results of these studies indicate, the health effects should not be ignored, and soy should definitely not be put up on the vegetarian golden pedestal.

Natural Health Magazine contributer Sally Eauclaire Osborne included some more soy stories in Does Soy Have a Dark Side? A Japanese study where the subjects ate 30 grams of pickled roasted soybeans a day for three months had enlarged thyroids and suppressed thyroid function. A month after the study ended their health went back to normal. A study by North Shore University Hospital-Cornell University Medical College in Manhasset, New York found that children suffering from thyroid autoimmune disorders [immune system attacking body cells] were consuming significantly more soy based formulas than other healthy kids not suffering from them, including their own siblings. Cliff Irvine, a New Zealand reproductive endocrinologist found that the reccommended level of soy intake there was several times the minimum needed to change reproductive hormones in women. It’s not limited to women, though. It seems that old legend about soy making boys less manly has some truth to it. At least for monkeys. The Scotland Sunday Herald reports:

Soon after birth, like all male primates, human boys undergo a dramatic surge in testosterone – during this period the body produces high quantities of the principal male sex hormone. The reason for the surge is unknown, though testosterone is thought to be responsible for stimulating bone and muscle growth and the development of sexual characteristics.

In humans this “neonatal testosterone surge” takes place between one and five months of age. Monkey species undergo the same surge, including marmosets. However in the Edinburgh study when marmosets were fed with soy milk formula, which contains natural plant oestrogen, the surge was suppressed.

After 18-20 days, average testosterone levels in soy-fed marmosets were 30% lower than those fed on cow’s milk, and after 35-45 days levels were 55% lower than the control group.

I never liked soy. I really tried to develop a taste too when my mother put it in front of me. Thank god it didn’t take! I’d probably be too damped down now to write a sentence, much less whole articles. Or worse, I might have ended up…

Published in: on July 26, 2008 at 12:09 PM  Leave a Comment  

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