The Dangers of Soy Are Real–and Much Worse Than You Might Think

21st May 2012


Promoting soy foods as health foods while ignoring the dangers of soy and soy derivatives should be considered a crime against humanity. If you think this statement is too extreme, read this article to the end, and then see what you think!

The dangers of soy are thoroughly documented in the scientific literature, which makes it hard to believe that many health and fitness communities and counselors, and most health food stores, still promote soy products as ultra-healthy foods.

Hopefully this harmful misrepresentation of soy foods will begin to change as the dangers of soy become better known.

A Summary of the Dangers of Soy

– Soybeans and soy products contain high levels of phytic acid, which inhibits assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc.

– Soaking, sprouting, and long, slow cooking do not neutralize phytic acid.

– Diets high in phytic acid have been shown to cause growth problems in children.

– Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may causepancreatic disorders.

– Test animals showed stunted growth when fed trypsin inhibitors from soy.

– The plant estrogens found in soy, called phytoestrogens, disrupt endocrine function, that is, the proper functioning of the glands that produce hormones, and have the potential to cause infertility as well as to promote breast cancer in adult women.

– Hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer may be caused by soy phytoestrogens.

– Infant soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.

– Soy has been found to increase the body’s need for vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

– Fragile soy proteins are exposed to high temperatures during processing in order to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein, making them unsuitable for human digestion.

– This same process results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine andhighly carcinogenic nitrosamines. (Doesn’t sound like anything anyone would want to eat, does it?)

– MSG, (also called free glutamic acid), a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing. Many soy products have extra MSG added as well. (See video on the dangers of Aspartame, MSG’s chemical first cousin.)

– Soy foods contain elevated levels of toxic aluminum, which negatively effects the nervous system the kidneys and has been implicated in the onset of Alzheimer’s.

If this list of the dangers of soy isn’t enough to make you run out the door of your local health food store, keep reading. It gets worse.

Feeding Babies Infant Soy Formula Is Like Giving Them Birth Control Pills

– It’s been found that babies given infant soy formulas have 13,000 to 22,000 times more estrogen than babies fed milk-based formulas.

– Babies fed exclusively on infant soy formula are receiving the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least four or five birth control pills per day! You read that right. Four or five birth control pills per day! Here’s the reference so you can check this out for yourself. [Irvine, C. et al., “The Potential Adverse Effects of Soybean Phytoestrogens in Infant Feeding”, New Zealand Medical Journal May 24, 1995, p. 318.] By contrast, dairy-based infant formula contains almost no phytoestrogens, nor does human milk, even when the mother eats soy products. (Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.)

– There has been an increase of delayed physical maturation among boys, including lack of development of sexual organs.

– Conversely, many girls today show signs of puberty, such as breast development and pubic hair, before the age of eight, and some even before the age of three.

– Both of these abnormal conditions have been linked to the use of soy formulas as well as to exposure to “environmental estrogens” such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and DDE (dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene)a breakdown product of DDT.

Would you want to knowingly expose your tiny infant to the dangers of soy formula?

But Don’t Oriental Cultures Eat Lots of Soy?

It seems that historically, Oriental cultures consumed mostly traditionally fermented soy products such as miso, tempeh, natto, shoyu and tamari. (Tofu is not fermented, and falls into the dangerous soy foods category.) They consumed these soy foods in small amounts, as a condiment.

– Soy foods account for only 1.5 percent of calories in the Chinese diet, researchers found. (1977 Chang KC)

– The actual soybean consumed today is not the same one used by traditional Oriental cultures.

Problems with Soy Protein Isolate

– Furthermore, modern soy foods are very different from those consumed traditionally in Asia. Most are made with soy protein isolate (SPI), which is a protein-rich powder extracted by an industrial process from the waste product of soy oil manufacturing. It is the industry’s way of making a profit on a waste product. The industry spent over 30 years and billions of dollars developing SPI.

– In feeding studies, SPI caused many deficiencies in rats. That soy causes deficiencies in B12 and zinc is widely recognized, but the range of deficiencies was surprising.

– Although SPI is added to many foods, it was never granted GRAS status, meaning “Generally Recognized as Safe”. The FDA only granted GRAS status to SPI for use as a binder in cardboard boxes. During the processing of soy, many additional toxins are formed, including nitrates (which are carcinogens) and a toxin called lysinoalanine. It was concerns about lysinoalanine in SPI that led the FDA to deny GRAS status for SPI as a food additive.

– In spite of all these dangers of soy protein isolate, SPI is the basic ingredient of soy infant formula. The FDA even allows a health claim for foods containing 6.25 grams SPI per serving.

Scientific Studies Showing Adverse Effects of Dietary Soy

The Weston Price Foundation has a list of studies carried out from 1971 to 2003 showing the adverse effects of dietary soy.

To give you an idea of how condemning these studies are, here are just a few summaries. There are over 50 more!

Fort P and others. Breast feeding and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in children. J Am Coll Nutr 1986;5(5):439-441. Twice as many soy-fed children developed diabetes as those in a control group that was breast fed or received milk-based formula. It was based on this study that the American Academy of Pediatrics took a position of opposition to the use of soy infant formula. This objection was later dropped after the AAP received substantial grants from the Infant Formula Council.
Hawkins NM and others. Potential aluminium toxicity in infants fed special infant formula. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1994;19(4):377-81 (1994).Researchers found aluminum concentrations of 534 micrograms/L in soy formula, as compared to 9.2 micrograms/L in breast milk. The authors concluded that infants may be at risk from aluminium toxicity when consuming formula containing more than 300 micrograms/L.
Sheehan DM and Doerge DR, Letter to Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305) February 18, 1999. A strong letter of protest from two government researchers at the National Center for Toxicological Research urging that soy protein carry a warning label rather than a health claim.
White L. Association of High Midlife Tofu Consumption with Accelerated Brain Aging. Plenary Session #8: Cognitive Function, The Third International Soy Symposium, Program, November 1999, page 26. An ongoing study of Japanese Americans living in Hawaii found a significant statistical relationship between two or more servings of tofu per week and “accelerated brain aging.” Those participants who consumed tofu in mid life had lower cognitive function in late life and a greater incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Strom BL and others. Exposure to soy-based formula in infancy and endocrinological and reproductive outcomes in young adulthood. JAMA 2001 Nov 21;286(19):2402-3. Although reported in the media as a vindication of soy infant formula, the study actually found that soy-fed infants had more reproductive problems and more asthma as adults.

The FDA Had the Scientific Information about the Dangers of Soy but Chose to Ignore It

You might think that people probably just didn’t know about the toxic effects of soybeans, that the food industry and the FDA must have just been misinformed about the supposed benefits, and very real dangers, of soy. Unfortunately for the FDA’s credibility, this was not the case.

If you simply do a search on ‘soybean’ at the Poisonous Plant Database of the United States FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, you can see this information yourself.

Right there in black and white you’ll find 288 studies on soy, many focused on the toxic properties and effects of soybeans. It’s not very easy to understand or get access to the actual studies, but it is cause for great concern that the FDA had this information and knowingly chose to ignore the dangers, just as it has done with so many other additives and pharmaceuticals.

It’s tragic to think of the human suffering that could have been avoided had the FDA just been more cautious and listened to their scientific advisors.

And it’s mind-boggling to think that the very federal agency whose mandate is, among other things, “to promote and protect the public health, to monitor products for continued safety after they are in use, and to help the public get the accurate, science-based information needed to improve health,” could knowingly do the apparent opposite.

This is one more example that highlights the need to educate yourself by finding good sources of information to base your health and diet decisions on, rather than relying on the FDA’s stamp of approval.

More Confirmation on the Dangers of Soy: Medical Conditions Possibly Attributable to Soy Consumption

  • Asthma
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Arrhythmia
  • Heart or Liver Disease
  • Infertility/Reproductive Problems
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Learning Disabilities/ADD/ADHD
  • Pancreatic Disorders
  • Premature or Delayed Puberty
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Thyroid Conditions:
  • Auto-Immune Thyroid Disorders (Graves’ or Hashimoto’s Disease)
  • Goiter
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Thyroid Nodules
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Other thyroid disorders
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Weight Gain
  • Weston Price Foundation

Symptoms of Disorders Possibly Attributable to Soy

  • Always feeling cold or warm
  • Anemia
  • Behavioral problems
  • Brittle nails
  • Eczema
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Hyperactivity
  • Learning deficiencies
  • Lethargy or low blood pressure
  • Sore bones and joints
  • Watery or swelling eyes
  • Weston Price Foundation

Do You Still Think We’re Exaggerating the Dangers of Soy?

When there is a pretty good possibility that something is harmful, as is the case with soy, common sense dictates that it’s better to avoid it!

The corporations who make billions from selling soy would like us to believe that until the dangers of soy are proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, we shouldn’t worry about them. This reminds me of Russian roulette: if a gun had a hundred chambers, and only one was loaded, I wouldn’t risk putting it to my head and pulling the trigger. Would you?

Or, as Roger Eichman, DDS, succinctly summed up the precautionary principle: “The precautionary principle requires action once the possibility of harm exists. It does not require proof beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

There’s more than enough sound scientific evidence to convince me. I used to think soy was a good dietary choice, but not anymore. I quit eating it a long time ago.

For more information about the dangers of soy, visit the Weston Price Foundation.

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  • jaden

    I know a lot of this is true but I find the stunted growth part hard to believe. I was bottle fed soy formula as a baby and became vegetarian around the time I was going through puberty and substituted soy beans for meat for a long time, and I’m 6’3″

    • kazmaniac

      You would have been 6′ 10”.

    • Umbra101

      Yes but if not for soy, you’d be 8’6″ !

    • Name (required)

      Means then that you could have been 6′ 10″ and enjoying a promising career in Basketball.

  • I have avoided all but fermented soy products for years. Soy is not food – unless both non-GMO and also fermented.

  • Samantha

    What bothers me about the article of the dangers of soy, is that it gives no advice on how one might consume soy safely. It is clear from this article that it is probably safer to not feed a baby soy formula, but it does not really address an adult diet other than saying processed soy may be harmful. Soy obviously has some beneficial properties as well, and I get that it is not good to eat too much of any one thing. However, this article almost seems to be implying that soy is tantamount to a poison. This causes me to be skeptical of the author’s expertise on this subject. I have a hard time with article’s that come from a blog that has no real information on who is posting or writing and what their credentials are.

    That being said, I will do more reading on this subject matter in the future, although I do eat soy products in moderation.

    • TheStolenOlive

      The point is… DONT consume it. It is poison.

  • Trantula

    Sponsored by Beef and Milk producers.

    • Vegan South Africa

      Weston A Price Foundation – indeed funded by the meat and dairy industry. No other studies/tests/research mentioned here…. Sorry but not buying it. Vegetarian for 23 years and never been sick and my daughter is 1.73m tall and also vegetarian. Recently we’ve turned vegan too – want no part in the animal holocaust thank you very much.

      • AlsoVegan

        You can be vegan and soy-free at the same time.

        • me

          just a part of the Earth holocaust

      • the wandering tree

        really? holocaust? food web, my friend. and i love animals, but i also love plants growing out of the earth. trees communicate with one another, fungi have been scientifically tested to show some kind of awareness. plants have a consciousness, and so do animals – so comparing eating animals to the willful slaughter out of hate is not only insulting to meet eaters, but also to the animals that have fed on one another for all of history. please don’t lump omnivory into the same cesspit as hitler.
        but also – how interestingly suspect that Weston A Price is funded by the meat and dairy industry. Good catch.

      • Yo don’t have to eat meat to get your protein. Hemp seeds contain the perfect balance of amino acids for a healthy vegan protein plus a perfect balance of Omega 3, 6 & 9 EFA’s

      • nekoindi

        On the other hand: a very close friend of mine has a history of ovarian cancer, and this year had another tumour come up. Due to her hormone levels, she was advised to go soy-free – which resulted in a 2/3rds reduction in the size of the tumour within 3 months.

        Glad that you haven’t had a problem – but the fact remains that the estrogens in soy can have a very serious effect on our bodies. I am not saying “don’t be vegan” – but I would suggest you find ways of reducing the amount of soy in your diet.

  • Cara

    OK so what do we do now if we already gave our kids soy formula?

    • Sweetpea

      Begin some research on how to heal the thyroid. Start there with natural therapies and don’t look back.

    • Kathryn

      If your children are still babies, the best thing would be to find a wet-nurse, next best would be to find someone who will sell you raw goat’s milk. If your children are no longer bottle-fed, just feed them nutritionally and, from now on, don’t feed them garbage (have you looked at the nutrition label for soy formula? – It’s over 40% corn syrup solids…)

  • Mario Koppers

    How amusingly transparent these arguments are. When it suits the argumenter, the scientists are lying to us about whatever it is that needs debunking.
    Yet, when we want to prove a certain stance, we reach for the same scientists to make our claims. In this case it is that Soy is bad for one.
    It is an irony that these arguments appear after some nation have used Soy as a staple diet for 100s of years, and now, more and more people are beginning to use it as an alternative to protein.
    It is difficult to imagine that one single food item can be so noxious.
    Scientists are human, they make mistakes, some are evil and many are bought to tow a certain line. Merely stating that scientists say “this” or “that” holds no validity any more.
    Hey, I suppose it makes you feel safe if someone else takes the responsibility from your own decision making ability – In the past we called it God now we refer to the collective known as scientists.

  • Boodiba

    All this may be true, but I don’t want to drink only black coffee! I used to put half & half in….

  • francisco alvarez

    asian people live on soya product for thousand of year and they are fare more healthier than western population , so what are you talking about that soya product are not healthy for human comsumption. And tell me why most of the soya beans harvest in the world, are here to feed animals to be kill and feed to humans???? answer please….if you can

    • TheStolenOlive

      Did you even read the article? It addressed the asian culture and the amount of soy they actually eat.

      • m

        the article addresses the amount that the ‘chinese culture’ consumes, not the amount that ‘the asian culture’ consumes, even in saying that though, the reference (one of the few in this entire article) is over 40 years old deeming it inaccurate in relation to now.

  • beverly lincoln

    So what food has soy in it/?????

    • AlsoVegan

      almost all store-bought pre-prepared foods have some soy isolate in them. Just look at the ingredient list: soy lecithin, etc.

  • carol ann krueger

    this article smacks of sensationalism…and is sponsored by Beef and Milk producers and is a distortion of the facts…the author is the “Queen of Butter”…this is part of a smear campaign against soy rooted in politics and economics….I lived on a soy based veg diet since the age of 19 and am now 58…younger, no grey hair and more vital than most my age….this article supports the SAD-Standard American Diet…which will make you very sad with poor health…my kids were raised on soymilk, tofu and tempeh and are extremely healthy with strong teeth and no cavities ….I personally know hundreds of people eating a plant based diet and raising the kids this way the past 40 yrs and all healthy and very FERTILE….this article it BS and not based in reality…..

    • Christine

      This article doesn’t promote SAD. It doesn’t promote dairy and meat like others are suggesting. It is simply listing the possible dangers of soy. It is possible to have a healthy diet without soy.

      • Ana

        So…we can’t drink regular milk, we can’t drink soy milk, are we left with…rice milk?

        • me

          Most all foods that have some form of healthy properties taken in moderation are beneficial, anything you take large amounts of are going to harm you, much like drug and alcohol. It’s okay to drink a glass of wine- that’s healthy, but if you drink the whole bottle, then you’re shit-faced.

          • Lena Shenadoah

            I just loved your comment and think it’s so sad we have so much harmful foods in excess.?

        • Laura

          Almond millk is yummy.

  • AM

    Don’t worry about it. How many Asians have a soy based diet and yet seem to live beyond 100 yrs of age??? There is a reason why registered dietitians base their practice on a preponderance of good scientific evidence and don’t rely on a few isolated studies which by the way are not current!

  • dave burns

    The Weston Price Foundation mission statement:

    …Dr. Price’s research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats…

  • BW

    You might consider the word Asian instead of Oriental? Good blurb thanks

  • harriet

    Where are the relevant references? How can we believe an article written by someone obviously with a venegence against soy if there is no scientific evidence to back it up! Don’t believe everything you read people! I would rather drink soy than Cows milk!

  • Grain of Salt

    I’ve seen this before, the source is the Westin A. Price Foundation, which is an organization that promotes such things as unpasterized milk, saturated fats, and cholesterol as being healthy.

    One article I read that comments on the Foundations stance on soy says “In reality, there is no scientific evidence that the consumption of soya is harmful to humans. The majority of what the WAPF says is anecdotal, untrue or based on scientifically flawed animal experiments.”

    Here are some informative links:

    Anyway, its totally cool if you want to avoid soy, but I’d take any information promoted by the WAPF with a grain of salt.

  • [email protected]

    I take nattokinase as opposed to Plavix——does nattokinase fall into the dangers of soy?

  • mary

    my question is this, i have had some thyroid issues, and both of my girls are on soy milk. I can’t afford anything else. I have wic for my kids milk makes my kids sick. I don’t know what else to do. I personally love almond milk. I really think that the soy milk gives me ibs, it may mess with my thyroid as well.
    The state wic program only lets us get the milk they say we can. It sucks. but it is all i can afford at the moment/ I did give up a lot of processed soy products. We don’t eat a lot of meat.

  • Angela

    This article is a bit one sided, intended purely to demonise soy. The academic merits of this article are suspect, as it does not tell us what other foods may also contain trypsin inhibitors, or phytic acid etc…
    Examination of some traditional Oriental soya foods showed that most of the Trypsin Iinhibiting Action had been removed or inactivated during processing and the remainder was further reduced during cooking. Soy products are heated to high temperatures during processing to deactivate the toxin. This is why all beans should be soaked (and soaking water thrown out) and cooked before eating and why soybean oil must be refined.
    Nuts, seeds an other beans such as chickpeas all contain TI

    One of the points mentions the phytic acid. Phytic acid is found in lots of foods, for example:
    Most whole grain cereal foods (wheat, rye, rice, oats)
    Nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
    Soybeans, other types of beans

    I feel that the article could have been a bit more focused on the other edible plant based foods which share certain traits with Soy. However since soy is such a high quality protein, it compete’s with meat. This may lead the Weston price foundation to feel threatened and launch an attack on one single food source – Soy.

  • Glen

    The Weston Price Foundation supports the dairy industry so they have zero credibility. But too much of any good thing can lead to cause. Soy is in everything these days and while we switched from soy milk to almond, I will still enjoy my edamame, tofu, miso and natto.

    • AlsoVegan

      Although Weston Price supports RAW milk… not pasteurized. Which is not the mainstream dairy industry.

  • Angela

    Wow, this goes against everything I have ever read about soy products. While I agree that soy beans are not immune to the dangers of chemical pesticides, how do we get our basic protein intake, which we need? If WP foundation advises to replace soy with meat, I won’t be considering it a reliable source.

  • Niko

    Why is WAKE UP WORLD, putting this out there? Are they doing their homework? first off, i do believe things in moderation..we don’t drink soy milk and we have started shifting to tempeh instead of tofu (mostly) and have a moderate but not super hight tofu intake..didn’t give it as formula, etc….BUT, and there is a HUGE BUT to this article….always consider the the bottom it sighted its source…the Weston A Price Foundation…i did one quick search here is some of what i came up with about them (you can only imagine that they promote a high meat eating diet, but they are even more extreme than that and are probably linked to the meat and dairy industry):

  • I’ve posted links to your site on my blog. You may view them here later this afternoon. Thank you for the collaboration of my beliefs, feelings & agenda.

  • Lauren

    this is sooooo biased

  • Sea

    I get 3 day migraines from soy (even soy oil) so it is almost impossible to go out and eat, go to pot lucks, buy any processed food, or take many vitamins. They are even putting it in tea now! The soy industry is making a killing . . . no pun intended.
    My sister almost died as a child from soy and was deemed a, “failure to thrive” child till one day my mother ran out of soy formula and gave her cows milk instead and she didn’t get sick. Soy may be fine for some, but not my family.
    They used to say cigarettes were good for us too. I do not trust any big corporation that says “this is good for you” and then it ends up in almost ALL our food, supplements, makeup . . .That is one big read flag.

  • Ika

    Soy is harmful because the type most commonly consumed is not real. 90% of soybeans in the US are GMO. Majority of our food is artificial, filled with pesticides and chemicals. You can’t tell me eating GMOs is more beneficial for our health than real food. Look at how ridiculous the cancer rate is now. It’s funny how food is labelled as organic but GMO products are not labelled. It should be the other way around. Some countries in Europe have already banned GMOs, while the US recently tried to pass genetically modified salmon. Obama passed the Monsanto Protection Act so they can keep poisoning us and ruining the lives of independent farmers. Now they want to patent fruits and vegetables! I would rather wait for fruits to be in season than eat strawberries in the winter that have been injected with flounder fish genes so they can withstand the cold.