Did You Know : Soy Products

Today, I've been reading a lot about soy. I can't really explain how I get sucked into my multi-hour research sessions... but somehow I do, and I can't say I'm sorry about it! I love learning about the "things" in the world, mainly the "things" we put in and on our bodies and how they impact us. I was pretty shocked by what I read about soy. I'd not heard much about soy prior to today other than the fact that, if you're a menstruating woman, it can (will) change the timing of your cycle if you start drinking/consuming it.  This actually happened to several of my close friends last year, and I passed it off as nothing more than an interesting fact.

However, after today, I find the phenomenon mentioned above more than simply interesting- I find it concerning. In an article written for "The Guardian," author Anthony Barnett writes this: "A woman drinking two glasses of soya milk a day over the course of a month will see the timing of her menstrual cycle alter" (source) (soya = soy). Why? Because soy contains a chemical that mimics estrogen. The strange effects of soy on a woman's menstrual cycle suddenly don't seem so strange in light of the fact that estrogen is a component of some birth control pills. Not to be overly obvious, but birth control pills are generally taken with the intention of somehow impacting a woman's menstrual cycle. I'm pretty sure women aren't drinking soy milk for the same reason... yet in some ways, they're getting the same effect.

In my mind, this is how it is: A woman might have never taken a birth control pill in her life, but if she's consuming even relatively small amounts of soy on a daily basis, she's essentially taking the equivalent of or some variation of a hormone-based birth control. That just astounds me! And perhaps the MOST disturbing bit of information I learned today is this:

It has been estimated that infants who are fed soya formula exclusively receive an amount of oestrogen equivalent to five birth control pills every day" (source) (soya = soy, oestrogen = estrogen).

I'm not sure about you, but I'm thinking I need to (1) do more research and (2) begin to reevaluate my consumption of soy... I'll post more as I learn more. For now... I hope you're excited to learn along with me :)


Cecilia Noelle said...

That's really interesting Tierney......
Does this mean that soy could/would be a healthier alternative for women who are taking hormonal birth control JUST for the effects on their cycle (and not for the birth control aspects)
I'm one of those people that doesn't trust birth control pills in general...something about putting chemicals and stuff into your body to stop/block a natural function seems odd to me (not that I've done much research about it....) but just what's struck me and rattled around my brain

C Viz said...

Tierney, soy is a phytoestrogen, meaning a plant-sourced estrogen. We're also surrounded by xenoestrogens, which means "foreign estrogens", and they are chemical-sourced. (It's a topic for another day, but most of the plastics, and many of the chemicals in women's makeup and hygiene products, such as the SLS that makes your shampoo and toothpaste foam up, mimic estrogen in the body too.)

Phyto- and xenoestrogens do affect the menstrual cycle, and your understanding of its effects being similar to the birth control pill is accurate. Of course, the effects are much weaker, but there are cumulative effects, by time and by quantity. However, phytoestrogens can successfully treat some of the symptoms of menopause in some women, without the increased cancer risk associated with artificial hormone replacement therapy.

Phyto- and xenoestrogens are especially harmful to men. They are linked to lowered fertility, and fewer masculine traits (hair, height, bulk) in men. Think of Japanese and Chinese men, whose diets are high in soy. Their somatotype tends to be short, non-muscular, and non-hairy. Phtyo- and xeno-estrogens have an especially harmful effect on developing boys, including in utero, and xenoestrogens in particular are clinically linked to Syndrome X (aka Metabolic Syndrome, or Estrogen Dominance Syndrome) in teenaged girls.

Here's a good link with general info about xenoestrogens and phytoestrogens, including the harm they can cause:

PS... I think it's great you're doing this kind of research. I get the "sucked into my multi-hour research sessions" thing. As our family's medical advocate for the last 20 years or so, I find that medical "knowledge" changes, and even reverses course all the time. As a wife, you are now the "keeper at home". The word "keeper" means guard, and I think this falls within your realm of "guard" responsibility.

Tierney Cyanne said...

Cecilia- I'm not in ANY way an expert on this, but I don't think consuming soy would be a good form of birth control unless "soy based birth control" were to be invented, in that were even possible! But I agree about taking hormone based birth control... I've always avoided it because it's not in line with my personal choice to stay away from ingesting artificial hormones and such! You just never know. Definitely not the most natural way to go about birth control, in my opinion!

Carla- thanks so much for adding your knowledge! That info. breaks things down a little. I had no idea you were such a storehouse of knowledge... I might need to tap into your wealth more often ;)

Cecilia Noelle said...

Yea, I don't know that it would be good for birth control, but maybe for the other effects that some women use 'the pill' for, like for controlling really strong cramps or bad acne etc.?