Soy Risks?

From: Ian Goddard (
Date: Wed Aug 16 2000 - 01:23:40 MDT

(also see:,2763,353703,00.html

Soya alert over cancer
and brain damage link

Special report: what's wrong with our food?

by Antony Barnett, public affairs editor
Sunday August 13, 2000

A health warning was sounded last night over the
dangers of eating soya after two senior American
government scientists revealed that chemicals in the
product could increase the risk of breast cancer in
women, brain damage in men and abnormalities in

The disclosure, which sent shockwaves through the
multi-billion dollar food industry, came after the
scientists decided to break ranks with colleagues in
the US Food and Drug Administration and oppose its
decision last year to approve a health claim that
soya reduced the risk of heart disease. They wrote
an internal protest letter warning of 28 studies
revealing toxic effects of soya.

In an interview with The Observer, one of the
scientists, Daniel Doerge, an expert on soya, said:
'We have very real worries that this health claim will
be used by the industry as an endorsement of much
wider health benefits to soya beyond the heart.
Research has shown a clear link between soya and
the potential for adverse effects in humans.'

BSE and other health scares related to meat have led
to rocketing sales of soya-related products in Britain.
But it is not just vegetarian foods such as tofu that
use soya. It is a key ingredient in products from meat
sausages and fish fingers to salad creams and
breakfast cereals.

The concerns of Doerge and fellow FDA researcher
Daniel Sheehan focus on chemicals in soya known as
isoflavones which have effects similar to the female
hormone oestrogen.

While these chemicals may help to prevent a range of
conditions including high cholesterol, they also lead
to health problems in animals including altering
sexual development of foetuses and causing thyroid
disorders. Although soy is thought to protect against
breast cancer, some studies show that chemicals in
soya may increase the chances of breast cancer
which uses oestrogen-type hormones for growth.

Their letter to the FDA seen by The Observer states:
'There is abundant evidence that some of the
isoflavones found in soy demonstrate toxicity in
oestrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid.
Additionally, the adverse effects in humans occur
in several tissues.

'During pregnancy in humans, isoflavones per se
could be a risk factor for abnormal brain and
reproductive tract development.'

This will frighten mothers who increasingly use soya
milk for babies. Doerge said: 'They are exposing their
children to chemicals which we know have adverse
effects in animals. It's like doing a large uncontrolled
and unmonitored experiment on infants.'

The soya industry insists that most research shows
the health benefits of soya outweigh risks and that
adverse effects seen in animals do not apply to humans.

Richard Barnes, European director of the US Soy
Bean Association, said: 'Millions of people around the
world have been eating soya for years and have shown
no signs of abnormalities or disorders.'

Useful links:
Institute of Food Research information sheet on soya

(also see:

Asking the "wrong questions," challenging the Official Story


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