View Full Version : Article: Soy, safe for men?

June 18th 04, 08:44 PM
Eat your soy, boys
A food that's good for girls is good for guys, too

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
By Sally Squires, The Washington Post

Yes, it's true that your wife, girlfriend or significant other has
been eating a lot of soy lately, mainly to boost her female hormones.
That doesn't mean it's bad for you, fella. Instead of pushing aside
that soy milk, go ahead and pour some on your morning cereal. Dig into
the soy burgers at the office cafeteria and the tofu that appears in
your takeout stir-fry.

There is strong evidence that the risk of prostate cancer may be
reduced by eating soy products such as these: plain soy milk and
organic soy non-dairy frozen dessert.

It turns out that soy, at least in the doses most people will consume
it in food, may be good for guys, too. A growing number of studies
suggest that soy has plenty of health benefits for men -- from
lowering cholesterol levels to protecting against prostate cancer --
and few downsides.

"Real men should eat soy," said Kenneth Setchell, professor of
pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, who has
studied soy for 30 years. "Generally, men are put off by soy. It tends
to be sort of a woman's thing. That's a great pity, because the
evidence that soy protects against prostate cancer is quite strong."

While there have been worries that men who consume large quantities of
low-carb soy bread, soy cereal or other soy-filled foods may get a
little too in touch with their feminine sides, research findings have
generally not borne out those fears.

"Soy is a very healthy food," said physician James Anderson, who has
studied soy for 15 years at the University of Kentucky in Lexington
and is convinced enough of its benefits to eat about a dozen servings
per week. "It's very safe."

Most concerns about soy have centered around the fact that it is a
rich source of isoflavones, substances that mimic the effects of the
female hormone estrogen. To determine what these plant-based chemicals
might do, Steven Zeisel and his colleagues at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill fed megadoses of soy to men as part of a
recent National Cancer Institute study.

Nipple discharge, breast enlargement and slight decreases in
testosterone occurred with the megadoses. But "we still couldn't find
anything that was serious, and we went up to doses that are probably
30 times what you could get from normal foods," Zeisel said.

And if you stick with foods rich in soy as opposed to supplements,
researchers say, there's no evidence of harm, unless you happen to be
among the one in every 1,000 people who are allergic to soy.

Not only is soy a rich source of high-quality protein, it also
contains complex carbohydrates that don't raise blood sugar as high as
more processed carbohydrates. It has fiber, folic acid (a key B
vitamin), healthy fat and antioxidants that help protect against

There's also evidence that soy acts as a probiotic in some people,
promoting growth of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract
that in turn produce health-promoting substances. It only takes a
small amount of soy to produce health benefits. Less than a handful of
soy nuts, about a fifth of a cup, provides 12 grams of protein, said
Anderson, who keeps a stash near his desk for snacks.

Just resist any urge to eat raw soy. Uncooked soybeans contain a
substance that inhibits trypsin, a key enzyme required for protein