Another question, does edamame give you estrogen? Does any kind of soy? The short answer is no, but I am never satisfied with the short answer. I needed to dig and see what all the fuss was about.
So, my husband and I had this conversation recently and it got me thinking. We are growing a bunch of edamame (soy beans) in our garden and he invited some friends over for an edamame boil. One of the friends said that he doesn’t like to eat edamame as it contains estrogen. Now, this is second hand information so I am not exactly sure if this is what was said but there was something about edamame and estrogen so I wanted to do some research.
Like most things in the health related field, soy is controversial. Since soy beans are very economical , it can be a great and inexpensive way to get protein so it is in mixed in a lot of things. That being said, it is also a very heavily sprayed herbicide crop (round-up) and can be genetically modified so watch out for that. We are growing organic edamame, and if I buy it that is all I will buy so I am not worried about what we are consuming.
What does Edamame contain?
So, let’s get back to estrogen and soy. Soy has many health-related phytochemicals. To help keep cell growth and activity normal, we have protein kinase inhibitors. To help regulate cholesterol we have phytosterols and saponins and we also have phenolic acid and phytates as antioxidants. (1) We also have isoflavones which is what is being called into question here.
According to Breastcancer.org, “There are the isoflavones, which are weak phytoestrogens (estrogen-like compounds found in plants). Isoflavone levels vary in different types of tofu and soy milk products. Your body's estrogen is much, much stronger than the estrogen-like isoflavones in soy. So if the weak soy substance replaces the natural high-strength estrogen in cells, then maybe the soy will protect against cancers that would prefer a stronger estrogen signal.”
Does soy cause breast cancer?
Soy doesn’t contain estrogen but estrogen-like compounds that may or may not affect your estrogen levels. Since we are all different, we are affected differently by foods and other substances. In the above article from Breastcancer.org, it is necessary to mention that the link between soy and breast cancer or other estrogen related issues is complicated by many issues. Scientist are not able to definitively say that soy is the culprit. In America we have a lot of things that can contribute to it including our diet, exercise levels, weight and alcohol consumption.
If we look at populations who consume a lot of soy products, such at the Japanese, we see that their risk of, and rate of breast cancer is minimal compared to the American population. Yet the Japanese consume soy products and edamame about 10 times more than the average American from a very early age. The Chinese do as well. Yet Americans have the highest rate of breast cancer.
Does soy negatively impact the thyroid?
Another issue that come up is speculation on the effect of the thyroid. Some researchers believe that regular soy consumption can affect the thyroid by blocking the absorption of iodine. These researchers are not exactly sure how it affects humans as these studies were done on animals and in test tubes. Researchers state in this pubmed.org article, dated 2006, titled, Effects of soy protein and soybean isoflavones on thyroid function in healthy adults and hypothyroid patients: a review of the relevant literature. “….despite the possible benefits concerns have been expressed that soy may be contraindicated for some subsets of the population. One concern is that soy may adversely affect thyroid function and interfere with the absorption of synthetic thyroid hormone. In total, 14 trials (thyroid function was not the primary health outcome in any trial) were identified in which the effects of soy foods or isoflavones on at least one measure of thyroid function was assessed in presumably healthy subjects; eight involved women only, four involved men, and two both men and women. With only one exception, either no effects or only very modest changes were noted in these trials. Thus, collectively the findings provide little evidence that in euthyroid, iodine-replete individuals, soy foods, or isoflavones adversely affect thyroid function.”
Like I said, not everyone is the same. If you feel that there is a risk of thyroid issues from soy, please do not consume it. The same with breast cancer, if you feel that there may be an issue, find an alternate protein.
Does soy affect male hormones?
There have also been studies done regarding how soy effects male sex hormones since they contain phytoestrogens. Again, in an article on pubmed.org, dated 2009, titled, Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis, “The results of this meta-analysis suggest that neither soy foods nor isoflavone supplements alter measures of bioavailable T concentrations in men.”
I am not sure about you but I don’t see an issue with eating soy unless you fall into the category of having thyroid issues, even then, I would watch and see if there was an issue. Also, if I had an estrogen type cancer I would be speaking to my oncologist regarding soy to see if there may be a benefit or issue in eating it. Even the research states it shouldn't be an issue.
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you found this beneficial, have a wonderful day!
Love and light,
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