Soy protein supplement and soy foods health benefit and risk, safety, side effects by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
February 24, 2016

Are soy foods safe? Does consuming them pose a danger? Are some people becoming fanatical about the its perceived risks and dangers? Is the advice of eating no soy based on solid research or is it an extreme viewpoint not based on scientific facts?
   Soy protein and other soy constituents are used in a variety of foods such as imitation meats, beverage powders, cheeses, non-dairy creamers, frozen desserts, salad dressings, soups, infant formulas, and breakfast cereals. It is possible that some people may be eating too much of it especially if they drink several ounces of soy milk a day or eat a lot of processed foods. And this may cause harm or danger.

Substances found in the plant
There are a number of health-related substances in soy. Phytosterols and saponins help regulate cholesterol. Phenolic acid and phytates act as antioxidants. Isoflavones act as phytoestrogens (estrogen-like compounds found in plants). Your body's estrogen is much stronger than the phytoestrogens present in soy. Therefore if the weak soy substance replaces the natural more potent estrogen in cells, then perhaps soy can offer protection against cancers that would prefer a stronger estrogen signal in order to grow.
  
My opinion - is there a side effects or danger?
A small amount of soy (organic and fermented, non-GMO - genetically modified organism) a few days a week or a few days a month in the form of tofu, natto, miso, soy sauce, unsweetened soy milk, or boiled soybeans, as part of a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of preferably organic vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, chicken, meat, fish, dairy, etc, should not pose any health concerns and could well offer certain health improving benefits. This approach is safe for most people unless they have a specific allergy or intolerance to soy. Just use it, as with any food, in moderation. Many foods have the potential to become unhealthy when used in excess.
    I am not encouraging anyone to eat or not to eat soy products. I am just saying that if you want to eat them but have been afraid to do so, I do not believe small amounts (of non-GMO soy) are harmful and could well be beneficial to overall health.  

Thyroid function
In babies who are fed soy milk, it can interfere with the absorption of levothyroxine, the medication that replaces the missing thyroid hormone. If babies and toddlers don't get enough replacement thyroid medication, their brains can't develop properly. Whether the average amounts adults consume has a significant influence on the thyroid gland is still not fully clear to me.

Breast cancer controversy
Breast cancer survivors, have, for years, been advised to avoid soy foods and supplements because of estrogen-like effects that might theoretically lead to tumors to grow. This has never made sense to me since I have followed the research on this topic for a couple of decades and have not seen any proof that this advice is warranted. A 2011 study of more than 18,000 women shows that consuming soy foods does not increase risk of breast cancer recurrence. Dr. Xiao Oh Shu, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn says, "soy has many anticancer properties, antioxidants, nutrients, micronutrients, or vitamins that may contribute to its beneficial effect on health." Data was reviewed from four large studies of women with a history of breast cancer who had consumed soy foods. After an average of nine years post breast cancer diagnosis, women who consumed the highest amount of soy had a slightly lower risk of dying from any cause and a 15% reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence compared to women who consumed little or no soy. These findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 102nd Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida in 2011.
   I know there are many people out there who have a negative viewpoint regarding soy products, influenced by reading articles on the internet that blast soy and unfairly blame all kinds of health issues as a consequence of its ingestion (and the fact that much of the soy present in our foods comes from a big corporation, Monsanto), but I think we should take a reasoned and balanced approach. The bottom line, in my opinion, is that some people are sensitive or are allergic to it and do not tolerate it well and thus should not consume it. However, most women tolerate or benefit from organic fermented soy consumption, at least in small amounts, as part of a diet that has a variety of foods. There is no reason for women who have had breast cancer to avoid it completely.

PLoS One. November 2013. Soy, red clover, and isoflavones and breast cancer: a systematic review. Soy does not have estrogenic effects in humans. Soy intake consistent with a traditional Japanese diet appears safe for breast cancer survivors. While there is no clear evidence of harm, better evidence confirming safety is required before use of high dose (≥ 100 mg) isoflavones can be recommended for breast cancer patients.

2009 - Women who eat more soy-based foods than average may have less risk for certain cancers in the ovaries and the lining of the uterus. Dr. Kwon Myung, at the National Cancer Center in Goyang, Korea, reviewed several trials that included more than 169,000 women. Most of the studies evaluated the intake of oy components from foods such as legumes, soy curd, or soy protein. International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2009.

Among nearly 1,600 Asian Americans with or without breast cancer, higher soy intake throughout life was associated with a lower risk of the disease. But the strongest protective effect was seen with childhood soy intake. It's been suggested that soy isoflavones block the action of estrogen, promote the destruction of abnormal cells and reduce inflammation in the body. Exposure to soy isoflavones early in life may be especially important in breast cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, 2009.

Q. I was wondering if soy milk is okay for someone with " estrogen dominance "?
   A. Soy milk or soy foods, when ingested in small or moderate amounts, should not present any problems that I know of in women whether they are " estrogen dominant " or otherwise. The rate of breast cancer in Western women is higher than the rate of breast cancer in Japanese women.

Soy consumption by Asians and Japanese
Asians consume an average of about 60 to 100 grams of soy products a day. Japanese women live longer than any other people on the planet.

Email received September 2008 regarding soy controversy. No proof of soy danger.
Dear Dr. Sahelian, I was just reading the controversy on your site regarding soy consumption and I just had to offer some anecdotal counter-evidence to all the alarmist discourse. My mother is from Japan, and our family was raised on quite a bit of soy-based foods: Tofu, natto, miso, cooked soy beans, soy sauce, etc. In terms of volume, tofu (an unfermented product) was probably the largest source of soy in our home. My little brother had no problem developing into a very masculine young man, and all of us were extremely healthy (I wish the soy would have boosted my breast development, but no such luck!). Anyone who says that Japanese people don't eat much soy have obviously never spent much time around traditional Japanese! Trust me: They eat  LOADS of soy! I'm not claiming that eating huge amounts of soy is ideal, but given how much they (and I) have consumed, it just doesn't make sense to talk about soy as though it is some kind of toxin. Even today, nearing 40, I eat soy foods daily (I love tofu!). I am extremely healthy, have a strong libido, and an IQ of 160. Granted I do not consume much soy milk, as most of it is way too high in sugars, and I eat very little soy protein, because intuitively it just seems overly-processed and denatured to me. Honestly, I think that Americans are trying to find an easy answer for why they don't feel good. The problem is they don't eat their veggies (because of my mom's good influence, I probably consume 20 times more vegetables than the average American--and mostly organic), they over- consume refined carbohydrates and processed foods, don't exercise enough, and are stressed out beyond belief! Americans want a quick fix. "Just take that new supplement!" "Just stop eating soy!" But building real health doesn't work that way. I applaud you for keeping it all in perspective. Your grounded and reasonable approach to health is a breath of fresh air in a sea of alarmists. Warm Regards, Robin H., Los Angeles, CA.

Q. I realize the Japanese people have been eating it for some time. However, I have read that their (true) version of soy is very much different than what the American people consume, thanks to Monsanto company. Monsanto owns the bulk of the soy harvest here and has genetically modified our soy so they can spray the crop with Roundup - and the soy plants will not die. Frankensoy is not something I'm going to consume.
   A. I prefer people use organic soy products.


How is a soy protein supplement available?
You can find it in various forms: powder, shake, bar and isolate.

Benefit of soy

Alzheimer's or dementia
There is some controversy regarding the role of soy product consumption and its influence on Alzheimer's disease. At this point my impression is that small amounts have little or no influence.

Appetite
J Nutr. 2015. Consuming Beef vs. Soy Protein Has Little Effect on Appetite, Satiety, and Food Intake in Healthy Adults. When comparing 2 high-quality protein sources, such as beef and soy, the type of protein consumed within a mixed meal elicited very little effect on appetite, satiety, and food intake in healthy adults.

Asthma, lung problems, wheezing
Despite hints from prior research that soy supplements might help asthma patients breathe easier, a major study finds the nutrient has no beneficial effect on lung function.". May 26 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bodybuilding
Soy protein supplements, along with creatine, are helpful in bodybuilding.

Soy protein vs whey protein supplement
My thoughts are that the body likes to be exposed to a variety of substances, so it may be a good idea to use both soy and whey protein either together or to alternate their use if you plan to increase your protein intake for the purposes of bodybuilding.
Soy and whey protein bar products both promote exercise training-induced lean body mass gain
.

Cholesterol and blood lipids
Consuming tofu, soy milk or soy powder can lower cholesterol levels by a small amount. Soy-fortified muffins, cereals or nutritional bars in which the soy protein is baked at high temperatures does not provide the benefit.

A meta-analysis of the effect of soy protein supplementation on serum lipids.
Am J Cardiol. 2006. Department of Epidemiology, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
Meta-regression analyses showed a dose-response relation between soy protein and isoflavone supplementation and net changes in serum lipids.

Diabetes and blood sugar
Adding soy supplements to the diet does not improve blood sugar control in older women who are at high risk of or in the early stages of type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
  
Kidney function of people with type 2 diabetes seems to be improved by dietary soy protein.

Heart Health
Soy proteins alter the ratio of different lipids in the blood in a way that should reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in healthy subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2006.

Hormone levels, testosterone
Studies on the role of soy consumption and male hormones has provided conflicting results, but most studies show either no major influence or that
soy protein may slightly decrease DHT and DHT / testosterone levels with only minor effects on other hormones.

Hypertension
Soybean protein may help lower blood pressure in a slight way according to a report in the July 5th, 2005 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. There are many natural supplements that could be of benefit in treating hypertension.

Lung function
Dear Dr Sahelian, I am forwarding this article to you regarding this study, reported in June 2009 in Science Daily. "Superfood Soy Linked To Reduction In Smoker's Lung Damage Risk" People who eat lots of soy products have better lung function and are less likely to develop the smoking-associated lung disease COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

Lung cancer
Men who don't smoke and eat soy may have a lower risk of lung cancer. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published online January 13, 2010.

Menopause and bone health
See menopause for more information.

Osteoarthritis
Soy protein may alleviate osteoarthritis symptoms.
Phytomedicine. 2004.
One hundred and thirty-five free-living individuals (64 men and 71 women) with diagnosed osteoarthritis or with self-reported chronic knee joint pain not attributed to injury or rheumatoid arthritis were recruited for this double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel design study. Study participants were assigned randomly to consume 40 g of either supplemental soy protein or milk-based protein (MP) daily for 3 months. Overall, soy protein improved osteoarthritis -associated symptoms such as range of motion and several factors associated with pain and quality of life in comparison to MP. However, these beneficial effects were mainly due to the effect of soy protein in men rather than women.

Prostate Cancer
Dose effect of soy supplementation in prostate cancer: A pilot study.
Oncol Rep. 2006.
Supplementation with a commercial soy product produced a consistent decrease in serum sex hormone levels.

Renal transplant patients
A soy protein diet improves endothelial function in renal transplant patients. This effect seems to be strictly dependent on soy intake as it disappears after withdrawal and is mediated by an increase in the l-arginine / ADMA ratio, independently of change in lipid profile, oxidative stress or isoflavones.

Sperm count
There is a concern that eating a lot of soy products could reduce sperm count and influence fertility. Until we learn more about this, reduce your intake if you ingest too much. However, is a reduced sperm count inherently a sign of being unhealthy? Asians, on average, eat about 70 to 100 mg of soy products a day and no one reports that Asians have had difficulty with reproduction! Is it possible that the sperm count in Western countries is higher than necessary and a slight reduction offers no harm to the body?

Stomach cancer
J Epidemiol. 2013 . Intake of soy products and other foods and gastric cancer risk: a prospective study. Frequent soybean/tofu intake was associated with lower risk of gastric cancer.

Soy protein allergy
Fermenting soy reduces soyallergy and increases the number of essential amino acidss. During fermentation proteins are broken down into small fragments which are not easily identified by the antibodies that produce the allergic reaction.

Isoflavones
Are there differences between soy isoflavone, soy protein isolate and concentrate?
   The main extraction from the soy bean is the isoflavones, whereas the isolate is extracted for soy protein. Since soy beans contain a high protein content with a low level of isoflavones, a larger quantity of raw material is required to manufacture isoflavones. Soy protein isolate may have 90% protein, which is isolated defatted soy flakes by removing fat and carbohydrates; however, soy protein concentrate contains fat, starch from soy bean and roughly 70% of protein.

Questions
Q.  My husband and I have been vegetarians for about 20 years. Currently, we rely very heavily upon soy protein to meet our protein needs. We are both very healthy and very much enjoy soy protein products. I've just recently become aware of the popularity of whey protein (particularly for body builders). It's very hard to find unbiased comparisons of the two. Most of the information that I've found comes from very biased sources or sources which are unqualified to make definitive statements. I'm not asking you to tell me which one is better. I would just like to find some good data. I work as a research administrator so I value information collected through scientific means.
   A. This is a good question and I would like to answer it by posing another question. Which is better, an apple or an orange? My overall philosophy in diet is to try to consume a variety of foods. Thus, my suggestion would be to have some of both soy protein and whey protein rather than having too much of just one. There have not been any studies that I am aware of testing soy protein versus whey protein for long term health maintenance, but as far as body building, both forms of protein appear to be helpful.

Q. In supermarkets it's hard to find soy free foods these days except in the produce section. Same with supplements. And a lot of us have soy allergies. What can we do?
   A. Yes, many products have soy or soy oil added. Those with soy allergies are obliged to spend more time than others in reading labels carefully. But why should people buy processed foods anyway? What happened to eating whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish, legumes, etc?

Q. First I should tell you that I have deep respect for you and I appreciate both the products you sell, and your articles.It's true, as you write, that the Japanese eat a lot of soy. But (as you know), almost all of the soy they eat is fermented. Fermentation reduces the toxicity of soy. I have friends from Japan who are shocked at the amount of soy that is eaten in the U.S. Here in the U.S. soy is in everything. It's almost impossible to find processed foods without it. We eat far more soy than the Japanese do or ever did, and we eat it in its most noxious form, the form that, when fed to animals, has been shown to disrupt their hormones, speed up their body cycles, cause early sexual maturity, and cause animals fed large doses of it to become unable to reproduce. In the U.S. today, girls are coming to sexual maturity earlier than they ever did. Boys and men have precipitously low sperm counts. It's interesting that as the amount of this pollutant has increased in our diet, we are experiencing the same symptoms animals exhibit when fed this noxious "health food." I spent years eating large amounts of soy, thinking I was doing something "healthful" and beneficial for myself. I ate soy cereal in the morning, drank soy milk instead of cow's milk, mixed tofu in my scrambled eggs, ate Tofutti for dessert. I was a "soy believer" like you. As the months went by I developed a myriad of health conditions. I felt mentally dull and lost interest in sex. I was the sickest I've ever been in my life. Finally I did some research and started wondering if soy might be contributing to my problems. I had a hard time believing it, I was so convinced it must be "good for you," but I finally tried removing it from my diet for a trial period. Within two months after I stopped eating soy, I regained my health. Virtually every health condition I was suffering from, improved or disappeared. My mind is sharp and clear again. I'm in my fifties, but feel like I'm in my twenties. I feel blessed that I dodged a bullet, considering how much of the junk I was eating.
   A. Your symptoms may have been due to overconsumption of soy products and this is not a good argument against my position that small amounts of soy, as part of a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods, is acceptable. Furthermore, most soy milk has lots of added sugar. People should keep consumption of processed foods to a minimum. If soy consumption reduces fertility, it apparently has not had much effect in China or Japan. Can you provide factual data or research studies that shed light on your claims regarding:
What is the amount of soy eaten by the average Japanese?
What percent of the soy eaten by Japanese is fermented?
What is the amount of soy eaten by an average American?
What percent of the soy eaten by American is fermented?
What is the evidence that eating small amounts of soy is harmful to health?
Which country has the longest living humans on average?
Please let us know the evidence in humans that fermentation reduces the toxicity of soy.
What is the evidence that eating boiled soy beans, such as edamame, is harmful?
Please provide research studies that eating soy products reduces longevity.
   We would appreciate you referring to us the research studies you have come across that would help us understand your point of view.
        Q. What is the amount of soy eaten by Asians in Japan? Answer: According to an article published in the Journal of Nutrition, Japanese males consume, on the average, in the neighborhood of 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). Broken down by gender, 8 grams of soy beans and soy products per day for men, about 6.88 grams per day for women. (Nagata C, Takatsuka N, Kurisu Y, Shimizu H; J Nutr 1998, 128:209-13). (By comparison, when I was "living on soy", eating tofu and soy protein every day, I was consuming about 90-120 grams of soy protein a day) (I eventually got sicker than I ever had been in my life.... then found to my surprise that virtually all of the medical conditions I was experiencing cleared up when I dropped soy from my diet.) Which country has the longest living humans on average? Answer: It depends on gender. Japanese women have the longest life expectancy. Iceland has the longest lived males. Of course there are many factors in life expectancy other than diet, including genetics, exposure to toxins from environmental sources, stress, and access to health care.
            A. The premise that Asians eat only 10 grams of soy foods is not correct, it is closer to 60 to 100 g. The 10 g refers to soy protein, not soy products. Japanese women live longer than any other people on the planet while consuming 60 g or more of soy products a day. Therefore, I continue to believe that small amounts of soy in the diet, as part of an overall healthy diet that includes a wide variety of foods, offers no harm.

 Q. Your position on soy is based on the latest research and sound, even-mindedness. I agree with you; unless one can produce data to support the (often) hysterical claims by health extremists in the popular press, there is nothing to discuss. Unfortunately, too many Americans have a knee-jerk approach to mass media pronouncements. This does not mean that I am not in sympathy with those whose personal experiences don't follow the usual outcome. Everybody is different and some people may indeed respond differently to certain foods or supplements. But whatever happened to personal instinct and common sense? Sheesh! Thank you for your excellent newsletter and advice. I always enjoy reading your perspective and thoughts on current research.

Q.  I have read your articles for at least 2 years. As a source for my research I refer to your articles on many supplements and have respected your extensive research concerning info about actions, interactions, reactions, research studies, and sources. Your studies are extensive and I believe reliable for the most part. An example would be research I did on DHEA using your report to balance other reports from other doctors. I use your studies and opinions as they can be relied upon to be conservative and on the "safe" side for all dosing regimens. However, your view on this topic of soy or no soy causes me to caution you to be more
open minded to the vast weight of evidence against Soy products. I won't debate the pros and cons of Soy. Perhaps you can read: "The Whole Soy Story the dark side of America's Favorite Health Food." Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN. Numerous very respected PhDs and MDs as well as Historians contribute to or support a NO Soy View. including Mary Enig, Jonathan Wright, Joseph Mercola, Mary Shoman, William Campbell Douglass, Sally Fallon, and dozens of other sources such as food processors and manufacturers.
   A. Please ask the authors of this book two questions. What studies can they point to that 1. Small amounts of soy as part of an overall healthy diet reduces longevity, and 2. How do they explain the highest longevity in Japan in people who do eat soy.

Q. I am an Ayurvedic practitioner and was reading your comments on the soy controversy which I agree with your position. My question is that most studies seem to relate more to women than men. Do you feel eating tofu for male youngsters could be a problem hormonally?
   A. I foresee no problems with boys eating soy a few times a month or perhaps more often.

Q. I wonder if some of the unfavorable responses to soy may be because people who've never eaten soy before suddenly added it to their diet and then found their system didn't handle it well? I'm just short of 59 years old and for 38 years have been eating soy (mostly in the form of soy flour added to breads and baking) and cooked soy beans but also miso, soy sauce and tofu - just not as much. My sons grew up on home-made bread with soy flour always used and other soy foods. I'd say, most days, we had some form of soy in our diet though not always. None grew up with any problems from the phyto-estrogens in soy. I've heard that soy also has its share of phyto-androgens but not sure. Their intellectual development is good (all tested in the genius range at various tests done in school). Health is good, above average. Sexual development is definitely normal. I saw no problems ever from its use. For me, I don't know if there's any one thing that I can contribute my good health to (I doubt it) but my continued use of soy hasn't harmed me. I had 3 normal pregnancies and deliveries, nursed my sons for a total of 77 months with lots of milk. Only twice did I ever have PMS symptoms and both were very mild. And no, that wasn't just my view but those I lived with. I went through menopause with no symptoms. Never had a hot flash, mood swings or other problems. I have no sisters, only my mother to compare with and she certainly had problems with menopause. I can't say I can contribute my unlined skin to soy but my skin is smooth and unwrinkled. I'm starting to get the 'sag' associated with lose of collagen but skin is great. My immune system is good too. I don't get infections of any sort, not from cat bites, garden accidents or colds or flu. Is that soy helping me? Not a clue but worth mentioning for those who think soy disrupts our immune system. Anyway, if you wish to use some of what I wrote, feel free to - just don't use my name, please. Perhaps soy doesn't suit everyone but it sure has suited us and made it possible for me to feed my family enough good quality protein when times were tough and there was little money. Even though things are going well for me now, I still prefer my home-made foods and especially my bread with soy flour.

Q. I've been a vegetarian in Australia for 40 years and have eaten a slab of tofu everyday as a meat substitute as well as a soy hot chocolate or coffee each day. Nothing's fallen off or gone rotten. At 57 I'm at correct weight and height, have all the sexual bits working - albeit a little slower than in youth. Tofu is a far superior form of protein than meat and adds way less carbon to the atmosphere than meat production. It doesn't go off like meat and you can even feed it to the dog! I just wonder where this argument, that soy is bad for you, has come from.

I write to ask your opinion. I recently received the email below. It says the very opposite of what I have always thought. So I am wondering if the contents do have real scientific validity, or if they are prompted by some other interest (eg, for some commercial reason, 'they' do not want people to consume soy). This is an email from Health & Well-Being Newsletter 3 Emmbrook Gate Wokingham Berkshire, RG41 1JW United Kingdom by Russel Eaton. It says"Hundreds of epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, cognitive, immune system breakdown, and even heart disease and cancer. Contrary to the popular belief that soy is a health food, evidence reveals that soy consumption has been linked to numerous disorders, including infertility, increased cancer and infantile leukaemia, Type 1 diabetes, and precocious puberty in children." Do you agree with the opinion of Russel Eaton?
    I do not. Soy products, fermented or not fermented, are safe to consume in small or reasonable amounts a few times a week.

After years of bladder inflammation, I think the source is my vitamins and calcium supplements. The cellulose content is probably soy, to which I am allergic. This is my own conclusion, not from anyone in the medical field. Do you have a suggestion for brands or preparations of multi-vitamin, iron, and calcium supplements that are soy-free? I can research it myself but maybe you know off the top and can recommend some? I also have sulphur allergy and lactose intolerance.
    Many times when people self declare that they are allergic to something, it may not be accurate.

I drank a ton of soymilk and some soy protein shakes over the course of 8 months, starting in late May 2008. Seriously, I may have drank more soy than anyone in history. Three or four Eden Soy cartons or two or three Silk soy cartons would be normal. Some people think they consume a lot, but not compared to me. After a few days of this -- yes, a few days -- I felt like my mind was slow, and that it adversely affected my speaking fluency. Cognitive impairment perhaps. Almost three weeks before I started soy I began taking a hair loss pharmaceutical called Propecia finasteride 1mg. I had no problems on this until I started taking soy. I only took this Propecia for 58 days and stopped in late July 2008. Anyhow, these speaking side effects continue until the present day in November 2009. For those months I thought my choppy speech was due to Propecia. In February 2009, through various Google searches, I came to realize that all this soy might have been made me iodine deficient, so I started taking a HIGH POTENCY iodine supplement called Iodoral, with 50mg of iodine per day, which is about 50 times more than the iodine found in the highest natural source, kelp. I was on 50mg for 5 months, then 150mg for 3 months, stopping finally October, 2009 because I felt it wasn't helping my speech. Perhaps I shouldn't have taken this Iodoral and just stopped the soy back in February, but I didn't unfortunately. I went to a thyroid doctor in late June 2009 and he felt my thyroid and said I had an enlarged thyroid and called it "luxurious", but my thyroid hormones came back normal, perhaps very slightly subclinical hypothyroid. But I've read a normal test still might mean your thyroid is not exactly normal. I went to another thyroid doctor in September 2009, and he did the same feeling test and said my thyroid looked normal. I had an ultrasound done anyway and the ultrasound doctor said it looked normal, but the thyroid volume measured 26cm cubed, which is about 10cm cubed larger than a normal thyroid, information I found via Google search. I finally stopped consuming soy when I stopped iodine in October 2009. So here's the deal. I have no idea what the hell I did to myself over the course of the course of the last year. Perhaps I messed up my thyroid with all the soy and continued that with the excess iodine. Maybe it's not thyroid related at all. Nothing else in my lifestyle changed -- I can't stress this enough. The doctors seem to have differing opinions, my parents think I'm making all of this up, and I have no real way to quantify what in the world is going on, so I don't even have a listed problem for my mental problems. It's not as though I lost an arm and it's obvious to other people. I've been off soy and iodine for 36 days exactly as of November 21, 2009. The only option I can think of is to stay off both until hopefully my body returns to equilibrium, and my educated guess is around 90 days or so. I don't know if my problems are Propecia related or soy, but none of my side effects relate to Propecia side effects listed, and I both thyroid doctors told me that they've never heard soy causing speaking side effects.
    I am not able to diagnose or offer suggestions without examining a patient, but it may be possible that excess soy caused some cognitive decline, at least temporarily, and finasteride does not help with cognitive health, either.

Some health gurus recommend AGAINST the use of soy products, except for FERMENTED ONES --- my question is --- does the estrogen in soy have a detrimental effect on MALE TESTOSTERONE and thus, sex drive? I am a 76 year old male who thru getting off the standard AMERICAN DIET and eliminating most manufactured foods, and thru education and supplements, still enjoys a weekly HOT DATE with my wife, having discovered that a HEALTHY SEX LIFE is simply ESSENTIAL to a males sense of well being, and by the way, has any research been done on just what constitutes a normal healthy sex life ( frequency ) for mid 70 year olds?
    I have not kept up with the latest statistics of a healthy sex life frequency in this age group. I see no problems with small to moderate consumption of soy foods in relation to sexuality. Perhaps excessive daily consumption may have an undesired effect but this is just a guess.

Thank you for your newsletter, it's always full of good information. I've used several of your products and will be trying more in the future. You were asking in your latest mailing why some people are so up in arms against soy. I hope you will not mind my replying to that. I guess for me it's because I used to eat a lot of it, and it got to where I was sick most of the time. I felt terrible, had allergies, couldn't think clearly, gained weight I didn't need, and was depressed and irritable, I would say, most of the time. I just frankly awful. During this period soy was a staple in my diet. It wasn't the only thing I ate. I ate a balanced diet like you describe, with lots of rice and beans and fruits and vegetables, all organic food, but also drank some soy milk and ate some tofu every day. And I ate tofutti for dessert at least once a week, and ate protein bars with soy protein in them when I needed a snack. When a naturopath told me it might be the soy making me feel so bad so much of the time, I initially didn't believe it. I was so convinced that soy was good for me and that eating it was the moral and healthy thing to do. I finally tried cutting it out of my diet because I got so sick and miserable I didn't know what else to try. When I stopped eating soy my health started getting better almost immediately. Literally the same day I dropped the soy milk and tofu, my mental confusion and depression listed. Within a few weeks my other symptoms were cleared up. I mean all of those symptoms. I feel twenty years younger since I dropped soy products from my diet, which I did almost ten years ago. I feel great every day and I can't believe the years I wasted feeling horrible. I think you are probably right when you say that eating a little soy isn't a terrible thing. But the problem I have with saying it's "safe in small amounts" is, how much is too much for an individual? At the time I was a soy "believer" I would have rationalized, "Oh, I'm only drinking a quart of soy milk every couple of days, that can't be that bad." "I'm only having a little tofu with my eggs in the morning, I'm sure that's fine." "It's healthy for me, it's soy, the naturopath must be wrong, blah blah blah." I know that I have too much emotion attached to the subject, but frankly I am still angry with the "health food" world for pushing soy as if were a wonder food that everyone needs. I'm angry for all of the years I was sick. I also am irritated that the people who still push soy, seem incapable of acknowledging, in words or in print, that there are now literally thousands of studies showing that it is a toxic and damaging food. I'm angry that it is pushed particularly hard at women, as if it was a miracle food that would solve all of our health problems. I'm not mad at you, I'm just trying to explain how I feel. I know that you're not recommending that everyone go out and eat a lot of soy. But I also feel like, when we have it in your diet in any amount, we need to be aware of the dangers. Did our ancestors eat soy? Do we "need" it? Has the world's health improved dramatically since soy became a constituent in almost every processed food? The pro soy lobby goes on constantly about how great it supposedly is for women with cancer. Sorry for the diatribe. I am truly not angry at you, just angry at an attitude that seems everywhere around us. I know your point is that small amounts aren't terrible. Maybe you're right about that, I don't know. If I had been eating less I might not have gotten as sick as I did. If girls ate "less" maybe they would not be sprouting breasts at the age of ten or eleven, in massive numbers. And I know you're not saying people "should" eat it. I think when people send you emails about soy, it's because you're almost the only "pro soy" person who is willing to dialogue about it. I do appreciate you for that.
    I appreciated reading your email. Any food eaten to excess, for instance eggs, corn, milk, peanuts, and others, could cause negative effects since the body does not like to be exposed to too much of the same substances all the time. There are also some people who are allergic to soy or are more sensitive to some of the components of soy than others. However, the vast majority of the public has no problems with eating small amounts of soy a few times a week or a few times a month. I know people who drink soy milk every day and have done so for a decade or longer and have absolutely no harmful effects. My problem is with those who claim even tiny amounts of soy are toxic to everyone who consumes it even there is no scientific evidence of such toxicity in the vast majority of consumers.

About the soy bean controversy, I would like to point at the fact - apart from all too often substantial differences in the results of studies, depending on who is conducting them, in whose interest they are run, respectively who is sponsoring them - that genetically modified soy beans may be unintentionally more modified and tampered than intended, so their different effects on the human body may very well explain the different study results. Apparently it has been discovered that the insertion of a foreign gene into an organism does not just result in an additional gene, but causes uncontrolled changes in a considerable part of its gene pool and the consequences of which remain unaccounted for. Not to mention the environmental issues that are caused by the hazardous practices used for the cultivation of GM plants, that truly independent research in the areas of the food safety of GM foods is systematically blocked by the GM corporations which own the GM seeds and reference materials, as well as their unethical (not to say: criminal) record and dubious practices in the past. Even if the genetic modification of the soy beans would not be an issue, their exposure to considerable amounts of biocidal chemicals most likely is. After all there have been plenty of issues with animals which have consumed GM plants, from the colony collapse disorder of honey bees to infertility of hogs, just to name a couple. A 2009 review in Nutrition Reviews found that, although most studies concluded that GM foods do not differ in nutrition or cause any detectable toxic effects in animals, some studies did report adverse changes at a cellular level caused by some GM foods, concluding that: "More scientific effort and investigation is needed to ensure that consumption of GM foods is not likely to provoke any form of health problem" - especially in respect to long term effects. And anyway, when it comes to my health, I rather be safe than sorry - and whenever there are such huge amounts of money at stake, I don't trust the people in charge that health and environmental safety has any priority for them - as this has been the case in far too many instances in the past.

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