While the food industry is busy praising soy's so-called health
benefits such as lowering cholesterol, fighting osteoporosis and
even reducing the risks of some cancers, researchers are discovering
quite the opposite. In fact, it was discovered that consuming soy
might be linked to:
- Reduced male fertility
- Increased risk of certain types of cancers
- Damaged brain function in men
- Developmental abnormalities in infants
- Early onset of puberty in western women
With all these negative side effects from eating soy, many may
think the simple solution is to stop eating it all together. If
only it were that simple. Soy can be found in just about every food
product available, as it is present in more than 70 percent of all
supermarket products and is widely used in most fast food chains.
Foods containing soy include a wide range of processed products,
from hamburgers to breakfast cereals and mayonnaise.
Why is soy so popular? One reason is that it is a cheap source
of protein. Every aspect of the product is used -- from the bean
down to the husk.
However, many foods will not list soy as an ingredient on their
labels. For example, the soybean produces a substance, lecithin,
which is an important ingredient of baking that prevents other ingredients
from separating. Food labels on chocolate bars and cakes will list
lecithin as an ingredient instead of soy. Similarly, the oil extracted
from soy is used in salad dressing and cooking oils. Thus, food
labels on these products will simply list vegetable oil rather than
Further, about 90 percent of the 200 million tons of soy produced
each year is used to feed animals. Therefore, whether one consumes
beef, lamb, bacon or processed chicken, chances are that animal
was fed a soy diet, making it virtually impossible not to consume
soy when eating any type of meat.
Although avoiding foods containing soy is a problem for most, an
even bigger problem has surfaced: Satellite imaging data has shown
there has been a 40 percent jump in deforestization in the Amazon
rainforests. Much of this horrific destruction is due to illegal
logging of land to produce soy. In addition, as protected forests
are destroyed to make room for soy, peasant farmers who have been
living off the land for generations will be forced from their homes
with nowhere to go.
Thus, soy has proven to do more harm than good. One doctor even
compared eating soy to playing roulette: "You just don't know."
Guardian November 7, 2004