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Are Soy Formulas Affecting Hormones in Infants?

Adorable baby boy playing on a blue floor mat and drinking milk from a bottle in a white sunny nursery with rocking chair and bassinet. Bedroom interior with infant crib. Formula drink for infant.

by Paul Fassa

Health Impact News

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 25 percent of commercial infant formulas are soy based.

In an August 2017 article in the online publication Undark, publisher Deborah Blum brought up the soy formula for infants controversy by interviewing Dr. Jack Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., who is heading research on the effects of soy on infants at the University of North Carolina, funded by the NIH.

The research follows up on children’s health development among three categories of infant feeding: breast milk; cow’s milk formulas; and soy formulas. This research group’s most recent paper, “Soy Formula and Epigenetic Modifications” determined a genetic change with vaginal cells among young girls fed soy milk as infants.

While the article and this research treats the whole topic as controversial, the tone is vaguely inconclusive. Indeed, there are many conflicting reports from various types of research not only for soy infant formulas, but for all soy products for everyone at all ages.

In her article Blum points out:

“Research shows that soy milk and soy formula contain up to 4500 times the level of phytoestrogens found in cow’s milk or breastmilk. … consider further, that a baby on a soy formula diet is being repeatedly dosed every day.” Dr. Taylor states:

“Well, you are absolutely correct that these babies are getting a lot higher dose of a known estrogenic compound than they’ll ever get from BPA or an endocrine disruptor like that.” Another study conducted by Jack Taylor and his research team was titled “Phytoestrogens in Soy Infant Formula: Association with DNA Methylation in Girls Has Unknown Implications.” (Source)

Other Soy Milk Infant Formula Studies

When it comes to baby boys being fed soy formulas, Blum references an earlier study, “Infant feeding with soy formula milk: effects on the testis and on blood testosterone levels in marmoset monkeys during the period of neonatal testicular activity,” which concluded with:

… the most cautious interpretation of our findings is that feeding human infant males with SFM [soy formula milk] in the first 3–5 months of life will exert effects on the neonatal testosterone rise and consequently on tissues/processes that are affected or regulated by this increase.

Until we know what these tissues/processes are, it would seem prudent to avoid feeding infants with SFM whenever alternatives are possible. The fact that there are so many conflicting reports from soy health studies plus the fact the AAP endorses soy milk for infants may be why these earlier mentioned studies are on the cautious side. But there is also a degree of industry financial influence, which motivates checkbook science that produce studies showing no negative effects from soy product consumption.

This information blows through the complexity of research findings on infant soy milk formulas. It’s from a 1997 study originally published in the Lancet and titled “Exposure of infants to phyto-oestrogens from soy-based infant formula.”

Circulating concentrations of isoflavones in the seven infants fed soy-based formula were 13,000 – 22, 000 times higher than plasma oestradiol [a type of estrogen] concentrations in early life, and may be sufficient to exert biological effects, whereas the contribution of isoflavones from breast-milk and cow-milk is negligible. (Source) Another factor with some soy milk formulas is that some are sweetened with corn syrup, which is usually a cover for HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). This is easy to deduce by the fact that there are some soy milk formulas that advertise “corn syrup free.”

Soy Hazards Greatly Outweigh Alleged Soy Health Benefits For Everyone

The potential hazards of soy go beyond the purported health values of soy for everyone. First, consider the obvious: Over 90 percent of soy agriculture is GMO based. Genetic engineering (GE) has its own inherent toxic hazards.

Adding to that, they are genetically engineered to tolerate massive applications of the glyphosate based herbicide Round-up. This herbicide is soaked up in the soy plants, just like in the weeds intended for removal. Except that the weeds die while soy plants engineered to withstand it absorb it from the soil and survive with most of the Round-up intact to serve into agricultural livestock and human bodies.

This is food chain double jeopardy. After diligent computer research based on current glyphosate use and its known dangers to mammalian health that are not publicized by mainstream media, Dr. Stefanie Seneff along with her research partner Dr. Anthony Samsel recently determined that glyphosate based herbicides contribute to autism.

Their computer research based on current widespread use glyphosate herbicides on corn and soy, both ubiquitous in processed foods and fed to commercial CAFO livestock, she and her research partner predict that half of all children will be autistic by 2025. (Source)

The video below talks about corn in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feed Operations). But that livestock feed is often a mush of both corn and soy, and both are GMOs and heavily sprayed with glyphosate based herbicides.

So in addition to mistreated factory farm livestock’s residue of overused antibiotics and disease infections, you’re getting residual glyphosate from their unnatural forced meals.

In addition, almost all poultry feeds today are soy-based, even organic chickens and turkeys. Research that Tropical Traditions participated in with Ohio State University showed that the soy isoflavones from the poultry feed passed into the birds tissues, and egg yolks of layers. (Source.)

And what about those organic versions of soy that are not genetically modified and not sprayed with Round-up or other glyphosate based herbicides? Even pure unadulterated soy has more health drawbacks than health virtues, unless it is fermented.

China began growing soy during the late Chou dynasty (1134-246 BC). But they also had developed a process of fermenting soy to reduce its isoflavone content as well as other compounds that inhibit digestion while producing vitamin K2 and promoting “good bacteria” in the gut.

You can feel comfortable about consuming soy if it is both organic, to exclude GMO soy containing glyphosate, and fermented. Some examples of organic fermented soy products to seek out are:

  • Tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
  • Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
  • Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
  • Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt. Again look for organic and traditionally fermented soy sauces. They aren’t cheap, but neither is bad health. (Source)
  • Tofu is not fermented and should be avoided even if organic. Asian cultures use tofu as a side dish or garnish. Their meat consumption is much less than ours, thus so is their tofu consumption. When is the last time you ordered a 16 ounce steak at a Chinese restaurant?

And to compensate unfermented tofu soy’s iodine blocking tendencies, there is a lot of seaweed in some Asian diets. Unfermented soy products cause lower iodine content in our bodies and create thyroid issues as well as being associated with the following:

  • Breast cancer
  • Brain damage
  • Infant abnormalities
  • Kidney stones
  • Immune system impairment
  • Severe, potentially fatal food allergies
  • Impaired fertility
  • Danger during pregnancy and nursing (Source)

The Weston A. Price Foundation is also not keen on soy unless it is fermented. It shoots down the idea that Asians consume large amounts of tofu. This is a marketing ploy to give the illusion that eating lots of soy is heart healthy and leads to longevity.

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, the average consumption of soy foods in Japan and China is about 10 grams (2 teaspoons) per day. It’s used as a condiment, not as a replacement for meats and is usually fermented.

Getting back to soy milk formulas for infants, it’s estimated that infants fed soy milk exclusively are taking in the estrogenic equivalent of four to five birth control pills per day.

For boys this translates to feminizing physiological and psychological characteristics as well as learning disabilities or ADD, as estrogen factors overwhelm testosterone. For girls, too much early estrogen leads to premature physiological maturity or early puberty before teen years as well as reproductive issues and potential breast cancer later in life. (Source)

An earlier 2001 animal study, published in the journal Carcinogenisis determined:

“the estrogenic soy isoflavone, genistein, stimulates growth of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer (MCF-7) cells in vivo [animal or human models] … [this] glycocide can stimulate estrogen-dependent breast cancer cell growth in vivo. Removal of genistin or genistein from the diet caused tumors to regress.” (Abstract) The fact that 25 percent of infant formulas are soy based prompted a study that determined high protein soy milk formulas with their high consumption rates are associated with higher seizure risks.

This human epidemiological research came about inadvertently after the team’s change of standard rat chow with soy was changed to a different diet during other research. The change resulted in a 50 percent reduction of seizures in the mouse model used to produce seizures for testing seizure medicines. (Source)

When it comes to food, it’s best to ignore the promotional industry hype and dietary propaganda based on bad or checkbook science. Question all of it and look for information from those who don’t benefit from your consumption of whatever is promoted. Then decide what goes into your child’s body and yours.

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