Does Soy Consumption Negatively Impact Male Sexual Development and Function?
The simple answer is that these projected “problems” with soy are all based on conjecture, with no actual human studies showing any detrimental effects of soy.
Discussions about the safety of soy do occur on a number of websites, of which many offer links to scientific studies. Given the volume of research that has been conducted on soy and soy isoflavones, it’s not a surprise that some studies have shown negative results. However, the weakness of these “anti-soy” websites is that they focus on only a few studies rather than evaluating soy in the context of the body of literature supporting the health benefits of soy. This, in turn, can give consumers a skewed perception of the safety of soy and this simply causes more confusion than providing people with a truly balanced perspective.
Because soy isoflavones exert estrogen-like effects, concerns have been raised that consumption of soy early in life (in utero or during infancy) might cause abnormalities in sexual differentiation and feminization in males, low testosterone levels and impaired semen quality leading to infertility in adult men. We have even heard it proposed that it is soy that is turning boys into homosexuals. People say these things with no actual scientific evidence to back it up. These concerns stem mainly from animal studies where rats have been injected with extremely large amounts of isoflavones during development. But the truth is that the amount of isoflavones injected into these rats was equivalent to a human consuming about 2000 servings of protein a day for 60 days or so. That would be drinking a full protein drink about every 45 seconds, 24 hours a day. It would also be over 200,000 calories per day, which would be far more dangerous than the soy isoflavones.
Soybeans are rich in a class of phytochemical compounds called isoflavones, particularly the phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein. Phytoestrogens (isoflavones) are remarkably similar in molecular structure to the female hormone estrogen. They are thought to behave in the body like estrogen but at just a fraction of the strength of thepowerful estrogens naturally produced by the body. Isoflavones — or so-called phytoestrogens — are NOT estrogens. They are simply molecules that have a SHAPE so similar to estrogen that they are able to take up some of the same receptor sites — which is exactly the reason for one of soy’s very beneficial, protective effects. The isoflavones take up the receptor sites, thus blocking the adverse effects of the far more powerful estrogens. This is the root of soy’s increasingly documented protective effect against cancer.
Scientists suspect that it’s the relative weakness of these phytoestrogens that actually work to support and protect our health. Body tissues that utilize estrogen for normal, healthy function contain estrogen receptors, which bind to the estrogen that circulates in the blood. Research has shown that when a diet is rich in soy foods, phytoestrogens may bind to some of these receptors. Phytoestrogens are currently being studied for heart, bone, prostate and breast health, among other benefits.
After taking Shaklee Energyzing Soy Protein for 26+ years now, a good friend of ours, Stan Pullium, has personally given a huge amount of his time and due diligence to checking out most all of the anti-soy claims that are being made. He said of his findings:
The purported negative effect of soy on boys and men is pure conjecture and extreme extrapolation based on the weakest of “evidence”–something akin to finding a tooth or a piece of skull buried in Africa and projecting from this some museum exhibit of what this “prehistoric man” looked like.
Some of the claims that have been made are complete fabrications. One case in point is a frequently circulated and often cited soy “alert” that claims that a Jerusalem Post article reported that Israel’s Minister of Health was taking certain actions and had issued certain warning against soy. I have spent literally many, many hours thoroughly searching the Jerusalem Post archives using every possible search term used in connection with this report — and I could find not evidence whatsoever that any such Jerusalem Post article ever existed. And yet, that story is repeated over and over by people who have never checked to see if it is true.
One needs to follow the money behind this whole anti-soy campaign of the last 5 years. Much of this disinformation is being promulgated by economic forces with much to gain from keeping people away the very strong anti-cancer, anti-heart disease benefits of the right kind of soy.
Another Important Point:
A very wide variety of food products — are made from soy. Just because a manufacturer starts with soy as the raw material does mean the final products have anything in common with each other. You can make everything from tofu, to fake bacon, to plastic from soy — and each of these has almost nothing in common with the other. Just because soy is generally thought of as a food product doesn’t mean you would want to eat plastic made from soy.
So you can NOT project that any negative impact one might experience from one particular soy-based item onto ALL soy-based foods. Whatever deleterious effects one might experience from drinking soy milk or eating soy cheese, etc. may very well result from the processing that has changed the essential nature of these compounds — and can NOT be projected simple-mindedly onto all things soy. . . anymore than you could project the harmful effects one might experience from eating a diet of Hostess Twinkies, Little Debbie Cakes, and Pop-Tarts on all things made of wheat!
In the last 10 years, virtually ALL soy production in the United States has shifted to genetically-modified (GMO) soy—where soy protein products are alcohol-processed, which removes isoflavones. These genetic modifications are made for production reasons, not health or nutrition reasons. No one knows exactly what the short or long term health effects of genetically-modified soy might be.
It is very likely that allergic reactions or other recently claimed adverse health effects are directly related to genetically-modified soy – We have never seen a single anti-soy expose that distinguished between GMO and non-GMO soy.
Nathan and I have used Shaklee’s Protein for 15+ years now. They have two types of protein to choose from—Energyzing Soy and Shaklee 180 Smoothees. We have put in countless hours researching the different products that are out there and Shaklee Protein is the best. Shaklee has invested over 250 million dollars in research to ensure quality products. Furthermore, all of Shaklee’s products are free of harmful additives, colors, and artificial flavors and sweeteners. After all the research we have found, in addition to being able to see with my own eyes that soy is in no way “feminizing” my husband or causing other male problems (we had four children in 5 years!), I think the “proof is in the pudding.”
Shaklee’s Soy Protein is water-washed to retain naturally occurring isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein and preserve the incredible health benefits. Shaklee uses only non-genetically modified (GMO) soy protein certified through an Identity Preservation Program (IPP). This program assures that the soy we use is tightly monitored and controlled from planting and harvesting to processing.
Benefits of Soy Protein
- Energy, Vitality, and Stamina
- Protects against Cancer
- Low fat, Lactose free, and Cholesterol Free
- Heart Health
- Bone Health
- Prostate Health
- Breast Health
Why Choose Shaklee Energizing Soy Protein?
- 14 grams of protein per serving
- Uses only IPP-certified non-GMO soy protein
- Highest-rated protein quality
- Natural vegetarian protein source
- Naturally cholesterol free
- No saturated fat
- 1 gram of total fat per serving
- Naturally lactose free
- 50% of your daily needs for calcium
- All the amino acids, including the nine essential ones you must get from food
Why Choose Shaklee 180 Protein?
- Provides the benefits of a meal, but tastes like dessert
- Powered by Leucine™ to preserve muscle while you lose weight (as you retain and build lean muscle, your metabolism increases)
- 24 grams of non-GMO soy protein per serving** to help you feel satisfied and full
- High in fiber, with 6 grams per serving
- Low glycemic to retain normal blood sugar levels and sustain energy
- Delivers 35% or more of the Daily Value for 21 essential vitamins and minerals
A Study on Soy and Breast and Prostate Health
It has long been known that many soy-consuming Asian populations have better rates of breast and prostate health than do Western populations. There are many factors involved in prostate health, but a recent, large-scale population-health study suggests soy intake as one of those factors. In this study, men who reported frequently consuming soy milk (which contains isoflavones) were 70% more likely to maintain prostate health during a follow-up period, compared to the men who had little or no soy in their diet.1
A recent population-health study conducted in China investigated the relationship between soy intake during adolescence and breast health later in life. After adjustments for known risk factors, higher soy food intakes reported during the teen years were associated with significantly better breast health when these women reached their pre- and postmenopausal adult years.9 Researchers believe that soy intake starting at a young age and continued throughout life is linked to maintaining breast health.
Another way that soy may promote heart, breast, and prostate health is by providing protection against oxidation damage.* The soy isoflavone genistein has been shown to have antioxidant properties.2
1. Jacobsen BK et al. Does high soy milk intake reduce prostate cancer incidence? The Adventist Health Study (United States). Cancer Causes and Control 1998; 9:553–557.
2.Wei, H et al. Inhibition of tumor promoter-induced hydrogen peroxide formation in vitro and in vivo by genistein. Nutrition and Cancer 1993; 20:1-12.