Eating even moderate amounts of soy can cut a man's sperm concentration in half, because foods like tofu and soy milk contain estrogen. And two hormone-like compounds linked to the consumption of soy-based foods can cause irreversible changes in the structure of the brain, resulting in early-onset puberty.
Researcher Jorge Chavarro says that he has seen this happen even more in obese men, probably because our bodies manufacture estrogen in fat.
BBC News quotes researcher Allan Pacey as saying, "Estrogenic compounds in food or the environment have been of concern for a number of years, but we have mostly thought that it was boys exposed in the uterus before birth who were most at risk. We will have to look at adult diet more closely, although the fact that such large parts of the world have soy food as a major part of their diet and don't appear to suffer any greater infertility rates than those on western diets suggests that any effect is quite small."
We can see this in the Chinese, who not only eat soy, they also ride bikes, and yet they also have an overpopulation crisis!
However, two compounds found in soy products caused symptoms of advanced menopause in research animals, meaning that a region of the brain that is important for female reproduction can be significantly altered by exposure to phytoestrogens (plant-produced chemicals that mimic hormones) during development.
Should we avoid tofu when we order Chinese food? The verdict is still out.
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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