Posted by: themossreports | December 30, 2009

Is soy safe?

One of the big questions that agitates health-oriented people is whether or not to consume soy and soy products. There are vociferous campaigns both for and against soy. (Yes, there is an anti-soy lobby, which also happens to favor the consumption of red meat.) But the data now seems to be tipping in favor of soy. Here is a recent excerpt from the newsletter of Michael Janson, MD, a reliable physician-journalist and former president of the American College for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM).

“Consuming soy foods (such as tofu, tempeh, and soy milk, not the highly processed texturized soy protein) has many advantages for health, as is evident from the low rates of a variety of diseases among populations who do consume them. Several recent studies confirm some of these benefits,” Dr. Janson writes.

His monthly newsletter is free and always carries worthwhile information, especially on diet and health. It is available at



  1. This has been an annoying question whether to cosume soy products of not…mostly I do as I have always done – adding soy flour to baking to increase protein values, soy grits to my whole grain breakfast for the same reason…complemetary protein

    • Soy is not digestable by the western digestive system. It needs to be fermented like in tofu, tempeh, miso etc. The amino acid structure is too complex otherwise and causes high stress on the body. When we eat a protein that requires more energy to break down than it provides, it puts you in the negative.

  2. I wonder if the use of soy as it applies to breast cancer patients would also be considered a good thing.

    • It is protective for breast-cancer. There are two types of estrogen. One is positive (good) one is negative (bad). Soy is a positive estrogen, which blocks the negative estrogen from being used by the body.

  3. My concern is how the soy beans are grown. Is it true that most of the soy we grow is fed to animals we comsume? And if that is true I have no confidence that it is safe…none.

    • Soy Consumption and Breast Cancer Survival.
      Date: 1/8/2010
      Source: JAMA
      Related Monographs:
      Breast cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare. There are different types of breast cancer, with different stages (spread), aggressiveness and genetic makeup. Treatment includes surgery, drugs (hormone therapy and chemotherapy) and radiation. The incidence of breast cancer has been increasing steadily for decades. Today breast cancer rates have escalated to the point where women’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 1 in 8. In the year 2002, the American Cancer Society estimated that nearly 203,500 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 39,600 women will die from the disease. This means that approximately every two and a half minutes a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer and that approximately every thirteen minutes, a woman dies from this disease. Breast cancer has become the second largest cause of cancer death in women, after skin cancer, and the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 35 and 54.
      Risk factors for breast cancer:
      • Being female
      • Increasing age
      • Personal history of breast cancer
      • Family history of breast cancer
      • Inherited genes
      • Radiation exposure
      • Being overweight or obese after menopause
      • Beginning menopause after age 55
      • Postmenopausal hormone therapy
      • Lack of physical activity
      • Drinking alcohol
      Soy Isoflavones are a dietary supplement derived from soybeans containing phytoestrogens. These weak estrogens are chemically similar in structure to naturally produced estrogen hormones. Isoflavones are found in soy foods both with and without a sugar molecule attached. The two primary isoflavones in soybeans are daidzein and genistein and their respective glucosides, genistein and daidzein. Soy foods typically contain more genistein than daidzein, although this ratio varies among the different soy products. In cultures where soy products are consumed in abundance, women’s health problems, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease are reported to be less prevalent.
      A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) investigated the role soy consumption played in reducing the risk of death and recurrence of breast cancer. Researchers analyzed data from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study. It was a large, population-based study involving 5,042 female breast cancer survivors between the ages of 20-75 in China. During the follow-up of 3.9 years, 444 deaths and 534 recurrences or breast cancer-related deaths were documented in 5,033 surgically treated breast cancer patients. The results indicated soy food intake was inversely associated with mortality and recurrence. Researchers stated that “Among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence of breast cancer.”1
      1 Shu XO, Zheng Y, Cai H, et al. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA. Dec2009;302(22):2437-43

  4. A totally UN-scientific quoted statement, confusing association with causality.

    Here are some takeaway points from actual clinical research about soy:
    * High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. Phytic acid in soy is not neutralized by ordinary preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting and long, slow cooking. High phytate diets have caused growth problems in children.
    * Trypsin inhibitors in soy interfere with protein digestion and may cause pancreatic disorders. In test animals soy containing trypsin inhibitors caused stunted growth.
    * Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
    * Soy phytoestrogens are potent antithyroid agents that cause hypothyroidism and may cause thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.
    * Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12.
    * Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D.
    * Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
    * Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
    * Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
    * Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.

  5. BTW, I bet my comment doesn’t survive moderation.

  6. Dr. Janson ought to know that soy milk and tofu are manufactured with the use of high temperatures, high pressure, and even solvent chemicals. Does that not define the term highly processed? This kind of processing denatures proteins, destroys enzymes and phytonutrients, and greatly diminishes the value of any food so treated.

    There is voluminous evidence from a range of scientific studies which argues that unfermented soy foods (as opposed to tempeh, natto and miso) are an anti-nutrient, inhibiting digestion of protein in the body, and hindering the assimilation of key minerals, suppressing thyroid function, disrupting hormonal function and more; and at the same time that the kind of cross-cultural study benefits he alludes to above do not seem to stand up under close scrutiny.

    For those who are interested, I’d suggest “The Whole Soy Story,” by Kayla Daniels, PhD. The book is very well documented, with many citations to basic research.

    Aside from Daniels, there are a number of highly respected figures in the field of nutrition and healing with diet who advise against soy other than miso, tempeh and natto.

  7. Dear Mr. Moss, I would like to ask you to reverse your position on soy, as there is much evidence to the contrary. Studies in animals show an increase risk of pancreatic tumors and other digestive cancers. Asian populations do have such risks. Also, at least one study shows that many Asians have different intestinal bacteria, being able to digest soy phytoestrogens better (Daitzen specifically) – also, Asians have other dietary habits that may have contributed to the benefits attributed to soy. As Enig points out, by the same logic, we should say soy causes stomach and pancreatic cancer (even without the studies on animals demonstrating exactly this).
    I read a report by the USDA itself and the panel members mentioned the fact that soy milk is so highly processed that is not even a food, and the resulting liquid contains two “nasty” chemicals. I believe these two chemicals were named in the seminal work on soy by Enig and her partner (in the Weston Pierce Foundation website). On the basis of their report, the FDA had to renounce its eager denomination of soy as an anticancer substance. . The U.K. commission on soy considered many hundreds of studies and could not draw any conclusions as it found most of the studies shoddy. The bottom line is that soy is here to stay because is a huge money maker for a lot of people, and the soy industry funds most of the lab research, population studies, and metastudies.
    It is also a shame that the U.S. exports soy milk to Third World countries claiming it is a good protein source for babies, exposing these babies to estrogen overload, thyroid problems, protein/ aminoacid deficiencies due to lack of carnitine, trypsin inhibitors, mineral deficiencies due to phytates, and the two ‘nasty’ cancer-causing substances acknowledged by the USDA panel members.

  8. I agree with the majority of comments above; soy is highly suspicious, especially in the U.S. For more info on the “soy industry,” you need to see the documentary, “Food, Inc.”
    It documents the fact that any soybean seeds sold in the U.S. are GMO, due to the fact that Monsanto has monopolized the market (sometimes in ominous ways) and they are intent on keeping it that way.
    So sad that profit almost always trumps people.

  9. I believe the biggest issue with soy is the almost total GM cross-contamination. Second to that in packaged food is the over-use of soy as a filler ingredient – it rivals high fructose corn syrup as an unnecessary addition to foods, and its over-consumption is contributing to thyroid disease as well as other endocrine disruptions. These are all well-documented considerations. Certainly they should be addressed when dealing with cancer patients.

  10. Despite the many negative soy coments noted above there is a great deal of information with double blind, placebo controled studies that do validate the use of Soy for homan consumption. Granted if throid problems exsist soy should be avoided. If it is processed by a processing plant that uses hexane, or if it is from ,China or a GMO product it must be avoided @ all costs, but if organic, a good quality and minimally processed soy can be used with great benefit. I’ll give myself as an example; no weight loss due to poor absorbtion, good asorbtion occures daily without any gas,bloating,or any digestive symptoms. My digestion actually is great with the soy I consume. My hormone levels have actually become optimal since I began its consumption on a daily basis,( they are checked reguarly and for years) I have reversed some of my own health challanges since I began consuming it ( of course it was only part of a balanced meal plan, that emphasises optimal nutritional input and with low carcinogenic effects ,but a vital one), .If soy is only evaluated on the mass market product line then negative factors are abound as for any product of that nature. Food sources should be checked and double checked B 4 one makes a nutritional investment. High heat is a negative for any food souce not just soy. Each food type has some negative consequences, thats the law of nature. Each action has a consequence.Coco blocks the functions of Lysine,but it has many benefits that out weigh the missing lysine for those hours of absorbtion. I have benefited greatly from the inclusion of soy in my balanced diet. And I am awware of some other people that function well on it. No levels of Aluminum have been detected either. Please seek out new sources of information in reguards to soy consumption. Cross reference your professors, and learn.


  11. As a full-time researcher at the non-profit Therapeutics Research Institute, I will give the quick summary. It is documented that at least 90% of all soy comes seeds using Monsanto’s Roundup immune variant. It is badly altered. it is washed in hexane which is a known carcinogenic. It is an endocrine disrupter. Soy is a terrible product– found of course in just about everything — do NOT go out of your way to consume it. I cannot possibly understand how Dr. Janson could conceivably recommend this polluted product. Many have already added sufficient detail in ther comments about what is wrong with soy — I simply note that they are by and large correct enough for government work. The special case of fermented soy (tofu is not fermented) is a horse of another color. Generally you will not be consuming that in the common soy commercial products — to your detriment.

  12. Its possible that the population research results for cancer due to soy consumption could be very confused due to Vitamin K2 intake.

    Recent tests of Vitamin K2 of the MK-4 fraction show that it has specific anti-cancer activity. Any soy cancer promotion conflicts with the cancer preventing aspects of fermented soybeans as from Natto which is a fermented soy food with very high concentrations of Vitamin K2 of the MK-7 fraction. Natto is popular in parts of Japan and may be a factor in other parts of Asia. The MK-4 and MK-7 fractions of Vitamin K2 perform similar functions.
    Asian studies of cancer rates due to soy consumption need to be controlled for Vitamin K2 consumption via fermented foods.

    Another path to Vitamin K2 influence is if the bacteria cultures of Natto remain in the gut and continuously metabolize soy proteins. Periodic exposure to Natto bacteria could provide hidden sources of K2.

    Some of the health effects of consuming Vitamin K2 are rather strong. This is a recently exciting area of research for cardiac, bone, brain, and now cancer health.

    Here are K2 general and specific sources:
    Habu, D. et al Role of Vitamin K2 in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in women with viral cirrhosis of the liver. JAMA, 2004 July 21;292(3):358-61

    The geographical distribution of Natto:

  13. Here is a source including lung cancer and Vitamin K2:

    Vitamin K2 was found to enhance small cell lung cancer cell death caused by cisplatin in a laboratory study. (Yoshida, Miyazawa et al. 2003)

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