Soy and estrogen are generally related because soy, in fact, contains plant-based estrogen compounds known as phytoestrogens. Soybeans specifically contain isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens similar to the estrogens produced by the body.
The isoflavones contained in soy are actually weaker than the actual estrogen hormone produced by the body, which makes them not harmful for consumption. However, several debates were already done on whether the phytoestrogens in soy may cause certain cancers, infertility, and other hormonal disorders as a result of the estrogen content. The following discusses the relationship of soy and conditions that are affected by estrogen:
Soy and Infertility
Estrogen is needed by the body for a good reproductive health. However, in line with infertility, too much estrogen in the body may also lead to several gynaecological problems. Oral contraceptive pills usually prevent conception through preventing ovulation as well as thinning the endometrial lining so the fertilized egg may not be attached for implantation. All of these effects of oral contraceptive pills are due to the elevated estrogen levels in the women. This effect of estrogen in the body is seen as a possible effect of consuming soy-based products because of the phytoestrogen content; however, the majority of studies show that soy may not actually lead to fertility problems because the effect of phytoestrogens is only minimal. Nevertheless, people with fertility problems need to be cautious about taking too much soy.
There have also been controversies about the use of soy infant formulas especially to baby boys because the use of high amounts of soy during infancy may lead to male infertility because of the imbalance in the level of the male hormone testosterone and estrogen. Experts recommend that infants should be breast fed as much as possible to avoid this potential effect.
Soy and Breast Cancer
Another link of soy to estrogen related conditions is the possible development of breast cancer. However, studies also have found that consuming moderate amounts of soy may help reduce the risk of breast cancer and those who suffer from breast malignancy should also look into consuming soy in moderation.
Soy and Menopause
The link of soy to estrogen becomes a possible remedy for menopause because during menopausal stage, women usually feel symptoms as a result of a reduction in the estrogen levels in the body. Consumption of soy during menopause was seen to reduce the feelings of hot flashes, depression, and mood swings. Nevertheless, menopausal women are still enlightened that consumption of soy-based products during menopausal stage should still be moderate as anything in excess may also be harmful.
Aside from these, there have been other controversies in the use of soy such as the presence of estrogen dominance in men who consume soy regularly and that this can lead to developing ‘gays’. Nevertheless, there has been no concrete evidence that soy can cause estrogen related conditions and the relationship of soy and estrogen has not been very clear. In this line, the consumption of soy is really not a direct cause for infertility, breast cancer, estrogen dominance and other estrogen-related conditions in people.