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Soy Nutrition: Dangerous or Healthy?

What is it About Soy That is So Controversial?

When discussing nutrition, depending who you talk to, soy is either a horrible ingredient to be avoided at all costs, or it is a fantastic product one could not live without. What is it so controversial?

dangers of soyWell, lets examine the facts. Some say that it will help to reduce cholesterol levels; but what they fail to mention is reducing animal fat products will have the same results as supplementing their diet with a soy product. Others claim that it will ease symptoms of menopause. A study in Brazil was able to prove that when they compared the effects of supplementing soy isoflavones to that of common hormone replacement, there was little difference in the results between both groups. They had virtually the same positive benefits.

On the other side of the argument, there are those that are concerned with the health risks accompanied. These risks do include the connection between soy and specific cancers, thyroid issues and the effects on infants.

Correlation Between Soy and Breast Cancer

Cancer researchers looking for a direct link between soy and cancer have found a correlation between soy and breast cancer. What researchers suggest is post menopausal women who are taking tamoxifen (this is used in the treatment for estrogen dependent breast cancer), exercise caution when they are consuming genistein. They also noted that although those of Japanese decent typically eat a diet higher in soy, they have a much lower rate of breast, uterine and prostate cancer, however they do have higher rates of esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, thyroid and liver cancer.

As far as the effects of soy on thyroid function, researchers have shown that it effectively shuts down a rat’s thyroid. They do not have data to show any effects on people.

In the area of the effects of soy on infants, although they have yet to prove the negative side effects on infants, researches urge us to look at how quickly girls are developing compared to 20-30 years ago and boys are developing at a much slower rate. Could it be to the high amounts of estrogen these infants are ingesting?

What are we to do?

If you have a family history of estrogen dependent cancer or thyroid disease, it is recommended that you avoid soy all together. For everyone else, just like anything in life, keep things in moderation.

By Lisa Gervais, BCRPA SFL, ACE Certified

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