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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Be Aware of SOY Risks


UPDATE: 14 April, 2009
I have about 46 posts related to SOY on Natural Health News.
Here is something today to consider as well:goitrogens, soybean agglutinin (SBA), and phytates found in soy products?

"Goitrogens" is a term that is seldom used in peer-reviewed research studies, but in past years it was used to refer to substances that could interfere with thyroid metabolism, production of thyroid hormones, and could potentially cause the thyroid to increase in size (a condition called goiter). No large-scale human research studies have been conducted that examine the thyroid-related effects of long-term consumption of whole, natural soy foods consumed in ordinary amounts. Studies in this area have mostly focused on rats fed dietary supplements containing soy components like isolate soy protein or soy isoflavones.

In the human studies that we have reviewed, only one repeated finding has given us cause for concern when it comes to adult consumption of whole soy foods and thyroid-related effects. That concern involves individuals who regularly consume soy foods while at the same time following a diet that is deficient in iodine. That combination of iodine deficiency and regular consumption of soy foods may increase risk of thyroid problems above and beyond the risk posed by iodine deficiency alone. (Iodine is a mineral that is essential for production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland.) If you are an individual who is at risk of iodine deficiency, I definitely recommend that you consult with your licensed healthcare provider before making the decision to include soy foods in your Healthiest Way of Eating.

Soybean agglutinin (SBA) is a protein- and carbohydrate-containing molecule (called a glycoprotein) that also falls into the category of substances called lectins. In legumes (including soybeans), lectins might play a key role in allowing certain soil bacteria to work together with the roots of the soybean plant. There are hundreds of lectins found in legumes, and even though researchers aren't yet certain about their function, it is likely that most of these molecules play important roles in cell-to-cell communications occurring within the plants.

How SBA affects human health is a more complicated question that has yet to be clearly answered in research studies. Adverse reactions to food lectins are well documented in scientific research and sometimes referred to under the heading of "food intolerance." For this reason, we'd place soybeans higher up on the list of foods potentially able to cause adverse reactions. But it's also important to note that the research on SBA is clearly mixed in terms of benefits and risks, and that large-scale human research on whole soy foods is still non-existent in this area. SBA and other soy lectins appear to have inflammatory effects under certain circumstances and anti-inflammatory effects under others. They also appear to have different effects on different types of cancer cells when studied in extract form in laboratory settings. From my perspective, no strong conclusions can be reached at this point with respect to SBA and soy lectins, except to reinforce awareness of soy food in general as potentially more likely to cause adverse reactions in susceptible individuals.

Soy also contains phytate (also called phytic acid) that can sometimes decrease mineral absorption, including absorption of the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Each of these minerals has a role to play in our health. Traditional methods of soybean fermentation appear to lower the activity of phytates found in soy. With cooking alone, there is more debate about the changes in phytate level. I have not seen any research that would support avoidance of whole soy foods for the sake of optimizing calcium, magnesium, iron, or zinc status. But I have seen research suggesting that highly processed soy foods-like commercially produced soy milks-may best be fortified with minerals like calcium in order to assure healthy mineral absorption. All of the precautions listed above are important considerations when deciding the role of soy foods in your Healthiest Way of Eating.

Originally posted 3/2/08Scientists Cite Adverse Effects on Cardiovascular, Thyroid and Immune Systems

WASHINGTON, DC: February 19, 2008. Internationally acclaimed heart expert Kilmer McCully, MD, father of the homocysteine theory of heart disease, joined other scientists and consumer advocates in asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to drop the heart disease health claim for soy protein in documents filed February 19.

The Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit nutrition education organization based in Washington, DC, submitted a petition to the agency in response to FDA's request for comments as the agency considers rescinding the heart health claim that has been used by manufacturers to market soy as “heart healthy” since October 1999. McCully was one of several researchers who prepared the document.

“We have filed this petition because there was never a sound basis for a soy health claim and the heavy marketing of soy as a 'miracle food' has put American men, women and children at risk.” says Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food and lead author of the 65-page petition filed this morning at the FDA offices in Rockville, Maryland. “The heart health claim gave soy a “healthy” image and quickly boosted sales from under one billion per year to more than $4 billion per year.”

The petition was filed by Sally Fallon, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. In addition to Dr Kilmer S. McCully, winner of the 1998 Linus Pauling Award, author of more than 70 papers in peer reviewed journals and author of two popular books The Homocysteine Revolution and The Heart Revolution, signers included Mary G. Enig, PhD, a world renowned biochemist and nutritionist who exposed the dangers of trans fats in the late 1970s; and Galen D. Knight, PhD, a biochemist who has extensively researched the role of vitalethine in humoral immunity and cancer prevention.
The petition notes that the FDA is mandated by law to retract the soy/heart disease health claim for the following reasons:

o Soy protein isolate and other highly processed modern soy protein products are not safe and have no long history of use in the food supply

o The evidence on soy protein and heart disease is contradictory and inconsistent, and no “standard of scientific agreement” has been met.

o Studies published since 1999 undermine the credibility of -- and conclusions drawn -- from key studies evaluated by the FDA when it approved the health claim in 1999.

o Recent studies show that soy can contribute to or cause heart disease, including endothelial damage (especially in women), heart arrhythmias and cardiomyopathy, an increasingly prevalent condition that affects 1 in 500 Americans.

o The mechanism by which soy might lower cholesterol could cause endocrine disruption, diminished humoral immunity and cancer development.

The ten thousand-member Weston A. Price Foundation has been a leader in alerting the public to the health dangers of soy oil and soy protein. “Thousands of studies link soy protein to digestive distress, thyroid damage, reproductive problems, infertility, ADD/ADHD, dementia, even heart disease and cancer,” says Dr. Daniel. “Populations at special risk are infants on soy formula, vegetarians who consume soy protein as meat and dairy substitutes and adults self-medicating with soy foods because of their belief that soy can prevent heart disease and other health problems.”

In 2005, the Weston A. Price Foundation protested a soy-prevents cancer health claim filed by the Solae Company with the FDA. Solae subsequently withdrew their petition in the face of massive evidence that soy can cause, contribute to and accelerate the growth of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

The FDA announced that will review the evidence on soy protein and heart disease because of mounting doubts and concerns by scientists and government agencies about soy protein. In January 2006, the American Heart Association in its journal Circulation advised health practitioners that soy has little effect on cholesterol and is unlikely to prevent heart disease. In August 2005, the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality published a 245-page report stating that nearly all the research carried out on soy is “inconclusive,” that soy products appear to exert “a small benefit on LDL cholesterol and triglycerides” but that those effects are of “small clinical effect in individuals.”

Three foreign governments have issued warnings about soy. In 2005, the Israeli Health Ministry warned its citizens that babies should not receive soy formula, that children age 18 and under should consume soy foods or soy milk no more than once per day to a maximum of three times per week and that adults should exercise caution because of adverse effects on fertility and increased breast cancer risk.

In 2006, the French Food Agency (AFSSA) announced tough new regulations that will require manufacturers to improve the safety of soy infant formula and to put warning labels on packages of soy foods and soy milk.

In 2007, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warned that babies should not be given soy infant formula “without clear, concrete medical reasons” and that adults should be wary of excess soy food and soy supplement consumption because they offer no proven health benefits and may pose health risks.

“Clearly soy is not the solution for people at risk for heart disease,” says Dr. Daniel. “In fact, possible benefits are far outweighed by proven risks to the thyroid, reproductive and immune systems. The time has come for the Food and Drug Administration to protect the public and withdraw the spurious 1999 heart disease health claim for soy protein.”

Sally Fallon, President
The Weston A. Price Foundation

Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN

Kathleen M. Campbell, Campbell Public Relations, LLC

Kaayla T. DANIEL, PhD, CCN, is THE WHOLE NUTRITIONIST®. She earned her PhD in Nutritional Sciences and Anti-Aging Therapies from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, is board certified as a clinical nutritionist (CCN) by the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists in Dallas and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Weston A. Price Foundation. As a clinical nutritionist, she specializes in digestive disorders, women’s reproductive health issues, infertility, and recovery from vegetarian and soy¬based diets.

Dr. Daniel is the author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food (New Trends, 2005), which has been endorsed by leading health professionals, including Kilmer S. McCully MD, Doris J. Rapp MD, Jonathan V. Wright, MD, Russell Blaylock, MD, Larrian Gillespie, MD, Debra Lynn Dadd and Larry Dossey, MD, who called it “science writing at its best.”

Sally FALLON, MA, is President and Treasurer of the Weston A. Price Foundation and author of the best-selling Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats with Mary G. Enig, PhD. Fallon is a leading advocate for traditional diets and nutrient-dense foods. An articulate communicator, Fallon has extensive radio and television experience.

Sally Fallon (
The Weston A. Price Foundation
PMB 106-380 4200 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20016
Phone : 202-363-4394

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