Soy food products have become an integral part of the diet of people of USA and many other countries. Promoters of soy-based foods believe that they are among the healthiest foods. However, the question, does soy milk contain estrogen has been a matter of debate for quite a while. Here is more on the subject of phytoestrogens i.e. soy-based plant estrogens.
Estrogen in Soy Milk
The estrogen present in soy milk falls under the category of isoflavones. The different members of the class, isoflavones are daidzein, genistein, glycitein and equol. Since these chemicals are plant-based they are also referred to as phytoestrogens. Equol is considered more estrogenic than genistein and daidzein.
Since isoflavones and the hormone estrogen do not have the same chemical structure, they don't have the same effect on our body. Phytoestrogens or (plant estrogens) isoflavones are the beneficial elements present in soy products.
The isoflavone, genistein is considered harmful because it increases the risk of breast cancer. Estrogen receptor cells present in our body tissues are activated by genistein. It is one of the important reasons why the use of this hormone is under scrutiny.
Studies conducted in the University of Illinois on effects of genistein on female rats reveal that the risk of mammary cancer, before puberty, was reduced. However, effects of genistein on rats after puberty were not the same. Estrogen-responsive tumors were stimulated by the intake of genistein after puberty.
Moreover, tests conducted on animals don't act as perfect models to replicate the premenopausal or postmenopausal biological status of women. The reason behind it is that different species differ in the way they metabolize isoflavones. Also, the study doesn't throw light on the effects of all the constituents.
Soy Milk in Regular Diet
Experts suggest that soy milk should be consumed in its whole form and the intake of isolated proteins or extracts be avoided. Estrogen produced by the body affects it in a different way than soy milk estrogen. Therefore, dietitians consider it safe to consume soy milk.
Patients of hypothyroidism should avoid consuming soy products as soy foods can affect the functioning of synthetic thyroid hormone. The possible resulting harmful effects resulting can be reduced by making adjustments in the thyroid dose. However, it is advisable that patients of hypothyroidism avoid intake of soy foods to nullify any risks posed by them.
Facts about Soy Estrogen
The facts presented here should help us understand the truth about estrogen in soy milk and its effects on the human body.
- Most of the studies that were conducted for finding out the effects of soy estrogen on breast cancer prevention suggest that concrete evidence is not available to support it.
- Effectiveness of soy isoflavones in preventing prostate cancer has been proved; however, the results are inconsistent and limited.
- Adverse effects of feeding children with soy-based products have not been supported till date.
- Long-term effects of soy-based products or supplements on the body also have not been tested.
- Research has proved that there is no relation between intake of soy milk and rise in estrogen levels in men.
The mentioned facts about soy milk estrogen don’t suggest anything about its harmful or beneficial effects on the body. However, consulting a dietitian to determine the right dose of soy-based supplements in our daily diet is advised. One should remember that any given diet or food serves the purpose i.e. it nourishes the body only if consumed in moderation.