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Soy... causes cancer in women?

An acquaintance of mine mentioned that she read an article on soy products relating to women getting cancer. I am almost 100% sure that this is pure propaganda and is only a detriment to those who love it. I wanted some second opinions so here is the e-mail she sent me:

This is my true story, nothing altered. These are facts as they relate to my experience, my opinions based on what I have read and felt. I am relating them to warn other young health-conscious women who are unwittingly harming themselves and so that what I went through and what I am going through has some purpose. It would make what I have gone through worth something and not in vain.

In 1989 I graduated from high school in a small town in Texas and couldn't wait to hit the big college city so I could begin to live my own life. One of the changes I wanted to make was to eat healthier. My family wasn't big on tofu, yogurt or fruits. I also didn't want to gain the freshman 15. Once I moved to health-conscious Austin, Texas with its parks, hike and bike trails, and health food stores, I began to fortify my body with the best and healthiest foods I could find. Tofu was the main ingredient in every healthy dish and I bought soy milk almost every day because it was better than milk. I used it for everything from cereal to smoothies or just to drink for a quick snack. I bought soy muffins, miso soup with tofu, soybeans, soybean sprouts, etc. All the literature in all the health and fitness magazines said that soy protected you against everything from heart disease to breast cancer. It was the magical isoflavones, it was the estrogen-like hormones that all worked to help you stay young and healthy

But I wasn't that healthy. I looked great, I was working out all the time, but my menstrual cycle was off. At 20 I started taking birth control pills to regulate my menstrual cycle. One brand would work for a few months but then I would become irregular again. The doctors kept switching the brands and assuring me that I'd find the one that would work. In addition to this I began to suffer from painful periods. I began to get puffy--not fat, I wasn't gaining weight, just getting rounder. It was as though I was losing my muscle tone. I wasn't looking as good as I had before, despite all my exercising. I began to suffer from fits of depression and get hot flashes. I mistook all this for PMS since my periods were irregular. I had no way of knowing when I was going to begin my period.

Now, I had started using soy when I was 19. The onset of these problems quickly began at 20. By the time I was 25 my periods were so bad I couldn't walk. The birth control pills never made them regular or less painful so I decided to stop taking them. I went on like this for another two years until I realized my pain wasn't normal. In 1998, when I was 27 years old, my gynecologist found two cysts in my uterus. Both were the size of tennis balls. I was scared to death! I went through surgery to have them removed and thank God they were benign. The gynecologist told me to go back on birth control pills. I didn't. In 1998 he discovered a lump in my breast. Again I went through surgery and again it was benign.

It was in November, 2000 that my glands swelled up and my gums became inflamed. Thinking I had a tooth infection I went to the dentist who told me that my teeth were not the problem. After a dose of antibiotics the swelling still did not go down. At this point I could feel a tiny nodule on the right side of my neck. No one else could feel it. I told my mother I had thyroid trouble. This was based only on a hunch. She, along with others in my family, said I was being silly. No one in the family suffered from thyroid trouble. What's a thyroid?" was what my friends would say.

Going on a hunch I saw a specialist who diagnosed me with Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma. After a series of tests he told me it was cancer. My fiance and I sat stunned. I was dreading another operation but so far every lump had been benign. We were not prepared and I was so scared. We scheduled surgery right away. The specialist told us that it would only be after the operation that a pathologist would be able to tell us for sure if it was cancer. They found a tumor on my right lobe composed of irregular cells and another smaller tumor growing on the left, so the entire thyroid was removed. No harm was done to my vocal chords, no harm to my parathyroids but I now had an ugly scar and would be dependent on thyroid hormones the rest of my life. They told me that after undergoing radioactive iodine I would be safe and assured me that I could live a long life.

After treatment I began to search for the cause of all these problems. An x-ray I had done at age 8 was under suspicion, as was stress--everything got blamed on stress, genes, maybe that time I tried to smoke a cigarette (I was never a smoker but tried once), maybe that summer when I was 25 and began to drink vodka and try mixed drinks ( I was never one for alcohol but wanted to know what the hype was about). I began to look for esoteric reasons like not being spiritual enough. I never once thought it could be all the soy I had consumed for nearly ten years. After all, soy is healthy. I never drank soft drinks, and even when I was under excruciating pain, never took aspirin or headache medications. Maybe it was birth control pills.

I came upon a web page that linked thyroid problems to soy intake and the conspiracy of soy marketed as a health food when in fact it is only a toxic by-product of the vegetable oil industry. This was insane, I thought. After all, the health and fitness magazines had said nothing about soy being harmful. I visited an herbalist who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 1985. She informed me that soy was the culprit. She was a health-conscious individual who in her twenties fortified her diet with soy. A few years after that she had to have a hysterectomy due to cysts and other uterine problems. A few months later another acquaintance who had consumed soy came down with thyroid cancer. She was 27. A girl in England I met through the internet in a thyroid cancer forum had just undergone surgery and she was only 19. What was going on???? The research said that thyroid cancer was more common in older women, age 50 or older. It was said to be genetic or the result of nuclear fallout like in Chernobyl.

Today I found out that yet another acquaintance--another health-conscious individual--just found out she has thyroid cancer and she is 29. I got on the internet and found breast cancer linked to the radioactive iodine given during treatment. This didn't seem true. As fearful as I am of anything nuclear, the treatment has been given for over 150 years. Breast cancer is linked to estrogen. What mimics estrogen in the female body? SOY! I am not a scientist nor a doctor but I know my body. I knew that there were changes going on and I did search for clues as to why, but I never suspected soy because until now I never once found a single article that stated soy could be dangerous. Evening primrose oil I heard taken in large amounts, vitamin A, C and E can make tumors grow if taken in large dosages, MSG, even tuna is harmful but never once SOY. Women who took soy prior to thyroid problems will continue to take it after if they are not aware of what soy actually does, what it contains and how it reacts in the female body. I think this is the reason that women with thyroid cancer often develop breast cancer later.

Now it all makes sense. If you trace the problems I have had, they are all related to hormones. Taking birth control pills I believe only added more hormones to my body that I didn't need. I believe it was the fruit, no smoking, no drinking, exercise and veggies that kept my first surgeries benign. I wasn't as lucky the last time.

My co-worker is big into soy and I see her losing hair and gaining weight despite a walking workout during her break and after work, and apples and oranges for lunch. She just had cysts removed from her uterus too. I warn her to stay off the soy. I refer her to websites but until it is on the evening news on all four networks, women will suffer. I say what I can but at the Christmas potluck every dish contained soy in one form or another. It's now the staple of the new American diet--eat right, eat for health, eat to ward off cancer, AND IT'S SOY!

Back in 1994 I did have my thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) checked, again on a hunch. I was suffering from lethargic days, fits of depression, feeling off, and mild digestive problems. My TSH was a 6. A good physician, taking into account my symptoms, would have explored this. We are not always blessed with good physicians. Many don't know what a thyroid gland is, what it does or even where it is, and they miss important signs.

By the way, today I have normal periods even though I am not on birth control pills and even though I have had to change my dosage of thyroid hormone since the thyroidectomy. I do not touch soy, haven't for two years.

Dear readers, please use my story in any way you can. There are so many young girls who are consuming soy because they think they are taking care of themselves, and women taking soy because they want to be healthy. It is so unfair that the information about the dangers of soy isn't more widely circulated. It is sad. Health is wealth and until 1998 no matter how badly things went--car breaking down, bills, bad dates--I felt comforted in that I had my health. There are many out there who feel this way and it is a terrible blow when you realize you are not as healthy as you thought and that the information that you depended on was wrong.

Unfortunately it wasn't cited, I wish it were, so I can't source it for anyone. But please let me know if you have read anything similar or better yet anything to disprove it.

I have seen SO many articles like this ... UGHHHH
Thyroid problems are COMMON in my family so I know a lot about them. They occur often in the early 20s... people who have thyroid problems should be more worried about eating BEETS than soy and even that is in MASS quanity. But back to soy....

Here is a nice summary RE: soy concerns Here especially related to this article is the information on the "estrogen" found in soy.

Did you know that tons (probably 99%) of anti-soy info is written by the dairy and meat industry... surprise, surprise... Just read some of the reviews at amazon about this book, The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food  i.e. this review: "The publisher of this book also publishes a book about the "fallacy" that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Saturated fat and cholesterol have been demonstrated in study after study to cause heart disease. This publisher is nothing more than a shill for the meat and dairy industry.
...Also remember that allergy to soy is a totally different thing.


Furthermore...(this whole thing makes me so mad)
What "evidence" in that story is there that soy cause the problems she was having? Because a herbalist and a friend of hers who had the same problem said it was soy, what authorities! 
Also, TSH levels are in constant fluctuation. That is the whole "thyroid problem"! It had nothing to do with soy that her TSH levels were changing. My mom has sub-clinical hypothyroidism and she has her blood checked every 4 months for TSH changes and subsequently her meds changed if she feels the need.
Even if there is a problem with soy THIS woman from the article has no clue.... she just thinks is soy and 'BAM' that's what it is! The birthcontrol pills she was taking, even for a short time, would be a more likely culprit. The shock of all her problem hits you as you read and when she jumps to a soy conclusion you are still nodding in sympathy with her and it MUST BE THAT!


Personally I tend to think too much of anything isn't a good idea. However I just don't think there is any way to prove that her medical problems were linked to soy. There are places in the world that average much more soy daily than Westerns and those places (Japan is one) have far less health problems. Also I agree with the fact her needs to get a medical doctor to tell her it is soy that caused the problems.

If someone is concerned about getting to much soy, there are rice and almond milks. Also, instead of getting all your protein from soy you could mix some beans and nuts in your diet.


This is my opinion (though shared by many others).  Soy is just another food.  It is not an elixir of good health and anyone who eats (takes) it as such and includes it in their diet in mass quantities may have problems (as is the case with just about any food).  Eating a little bit of soy everyday or every once in while will not cause problems (assuming no allergy of sensitivity).  You do not need soy in your diet to be perfectly healthy, even as a vegan/vegetarian.  If you are worried about soy, just include lots of other beans/nuts/seeds/grains/vegetables in your diet. Variety is key--no one food is a miracle food, and anyone who claims that a food is a miracle food or will prevent/cure a disease all by itself is not telling the whole story.

I include soy in my diet, but try to limit it mostly to traditional processing methods (tofu, tempeh, soymilk).  I will occassionally have soy ice cream on special occassions, and very rarely I will eat fake-sour cream mixed into a casserole or something. 

If you can get to your library or have the budget to buy, I strongly recommend Marion Nestle's new book What to Eat.  I really admire her and appreciate her rational, balanced approach to everything.  She is not vegetarian but has no problem with those who choose that lifestyle.  Anyway, in her book she has an excellent discussion of soy, reviewing the research.  In the end, she comes to the conclusion that soy is "just a food."



My partner suffers from AIP.  Fortunately he's male, so he isn't prone to quite the hormonal triggering that female sufferers do, but one of the things he has to watch out for is plant estrogens in his diet.  He can eat soy in moderation, but has to be careful with it (too much equals an attack) and needs to steer clear of TVP altogether (we don't know why, but it sets him off every time.)  So it CAN have a deleterious effect, depending on what ELSE is going on with your biology... then again, we're well aware that his food restrictions are pretty weird (careful with red and dark foods, careful with onions and sulfurous veggies, don't touch red radishes or olluco, don't touch chamomile, careful with turnips, careful with soy and don't touch TVP, etc. etc.) 

But yeah, industrial warfare puts out a lot of very influential propaganda... on both sides, of course.  I've seen a LOT of complete BS addressed at the carnivorous concerns, by our own side, too.  However, I'm more sympathetic to it, heh.


ugh, i love how the position that soy is evil has now become a ridiculous e-mail anecdotal evidence is really nothing more than an appeal to emotion. there is soooo much actual academic research on the dangers of soy, i would definitely recommend reading that over a silly e-mail forward.

it's really difficult to glean truth from any of this though, because many people are convinced that the position that soy is terrible for you is propagated by the dairy industry. however, with a discerning eye and careful research, i think it is possible to make informed choices. i personally do eat soy but try to limit my intake of all processed foods (such as tofu) and stick to the fresh veggies that come in my CSA box...


Well, you have to look at the information here... this sentence in particular really set me off :
"I came upon a web page that linked thyroid problems to soy intake and the conspiracy of soy marketed as a health food when in fact it is only a toxic by-product of the vegetable oil industry. "

Um, no. Let's comes from...wait for it... soybeans?! It's not a byproduct, it is a bean.

My second problem is where she says that she bought "soy everything... soy muffins, soybean sprouts, miso tofu soup, soy in everything"  Well, common sense would probably tell someone that moderation is the key to everything, and that a diet should not be made up of ONE product only!


Incidentally, right after commenting on this thread I got to the section in Marion Nestle's "What to Eat" about the dangers/benefits of soy. I always trust Nestle's advice, and have been a huge fan of hers ever since "Food Politics" came out. Plus she has done some amazing things regarding getting fresh fruits and veggies into NY's inner cities...Anyway, here is what she says:

"...the degree of benefit or harm from soy must be too small to make much difference to health. at the moment, it is not possible to prove that soy has any special health benefits beyone minor effects on cholesterol lowering. it is also not possible to prove that soy is perfectly is just one food. if you eat soy because you think it is healthful, you probably also follow other good health habits. if you follow other good health habits and do not eat soy, this omission is unlikely to make a difference. and eating soy in unlikely to compensate for whatever unhealthy habits you might practice."


I think its propaganda....but I do try to steer clear of things that read "soy protein concentrate or isolate" and also, no GMO soy......just try to keep it as pure as possible. I also try to vary my milks with other nut milks on occasion. I think if its organic and not hightly processed, it can't be bad!


A very isolated incident cannot undo the how many years that Asians have been eating away at soy and just being as healthy as ever. Scientific research looking for why those countries are so healthy are the very reason we know how great of a food soy is!


Nestle on the Asian/soy position:

"Never mind that there are billions of people who might be called Asians, with widely varying diets and ways of life, or that Asians share many characteristics other than the amount of soy they eat-- any of which might better explain their low rates of heart disease. Reductive logic finds it attractive to attribute lower risk for coronary disease to just one food associated with Asian diets. Attributing the benefits of eating soy to just one of its hundreds of components also seems attractive, especially to companies with vested interests in that particular component. In 1998, in what was hardly a coincidence, a dicision of DuPont that makes soy protein ingredients, Protein Technologies International, petitioned the FDA to allow a health claim linking soy protein to prevention of heart disease...The Center for Science in Public Interest warned its Nutrition Action Healthletter readers to be wary of health claims emanating from the marketing departments of soy-food companies....The FDA was under pressure from food companies and their friends in Congress to approve a wider range of health claims and to do so quickly. It rather uncritically allowed soy protein- independent of its isoflavone or other contents- to qualify for the carefully worded health claim now found on many soy products "25 grams of soy protein, combined with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."...Nutrition Action Healthletter pointed out in 2002 that not even Asians eat that much soy every day....


The Asian/soy studies have been going on LONG before 1998. There just weren't too many people listening until it began getting commercial advertisisng.


Yes, it's just often really hard to glean truth because both sides have such a vested interest in the outcomes of studies. Out of curiosity, which Asian people are you specifically referring to?

I really do trust Marion Nestle. She is 70, so she's been around for awhile. She concludes the chapter by saying that soy foods are a good substitute for dairy, not harmful, and fine to eat if you enjoy them, but that they are not necessary, just as dairy isn't necessary. they are just a food, one of many.


Oh, I could go on & on about Thyroid disease as I've been living with it for the last 7 or 8 years. In 2001, I had the right lobe of my thyroid removed & was stunned to learn that the pathology indicated very early stages of papilliary carcinoma. Things were bad before the surgery but after...OMG, everything went haywire! It took the better part of a year to finally get my levels within 'normal' range, yet I continued to lose weight. This was long before changing my diet.
Last winter when our family became vegan, I slowly began to gain weight...Coincidence? who knows. Later, I learned that Soy products do indeed play a role in weight gain for Hypothyroidism. I never was Hypo but am glad for the 10 pounds!  This whole Soy/Thyroid thing has me more than perplexed. Everything I've read about this deals with Hypothyroidism...nothing about Hyper.
I searched at & sure enough, the letter above with the exact wording is there but it can neither be proved nor disproved.....still confused
My opinion which probably doesn't account for much is that Thyroid disease is an environmental problem (as well as genetic). During a blood test at the specialist in Hamilton, the phlebotomist mentioned that the city I'm from has a higher than average rate of Thyroid disease.
Do I believe the claims in the letter? Absolutely not!
I'm of mixed feelings about this. I don't want to be eating anything that will aggrevate an already sensitive Thyroid but am worried that if I totally give it up, I'll start losing again.
Sorry this is so long & I really didn't give any valueable information...I'm looking for answers too.


from what vanada shiva has to say most "bad" things in soy are compressed in soy flour. so not much of that eh?

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