ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Is Soy Bad for You? Examining Both Sides of the Argument

Updated on September 13, 2017

When I first decided to stop drinking cow milk, I immediately turned to soy milk. To tell you the truth, I didn't know of any other milks other than cow and soy milk, and the latter was being heavily advertised at that time as the healthiest choice. Eventually, I ran into some unfavorable articles and comments regarding soy milk. I started questioning my decision and ran to Google to learn more about the issue.

The beginning of the soy craze

In 1999, the FDA announced that soy could significantly reduce heart disease if included in your daily diet. From that day on, soy became super popular and we started seeing soy products everywhere, from baby formulas to soy meat. There were claims that soy could replace animal protein and that it could even fix hormonal imbalances. But soy's fate changed, and today more and more people believe using soy can lead to some pretty bad health problems.

Which side of the argument are you on?

Do you believe soy is harmful to your health?

See results

Soy: the good and the bad

It's unbelievable how much information there is out there about soy! And when there is such a debate about any issue, you can always count on finding people on both extremes: those who are blindly for it and those who are fanatically against it. I will present to you the most coherent arguments I found on BOTH SIDES, and you will take the decision on whether soy is good or bad for your health.

Soy is everywhere now! Even in products you wouldn't imagine...
Soy is everywhere now! Even in products you wouldn't imagine... | Source

The bad side of soy

The main complaint about soy is its alarmingly high content of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are vegetable components that can act as the feminine hormone known as estrogen. This female hormone is mainly responsible for changing a girl's body into a woman's body. However, it can also be responsible for causing malignant tumors, such as the ones that are present in hormone sensitive breast cancer.

Soy and women

Soy could increase risk of breast cancer due to its high amounts of phytoestrogens. It could also cause problems with the reproductive organs such as increased bleeding during menstruation as well as more painful periods, premature births and difficulty conceiving.

Soy and men

Since phytoestrogens can have similar effects as estrogen, many are concerned with the effect soy could have in men. Some say that the high amount of isoflavones (a type of phytoestrogen) can lead to less testosterone, and thus, decreased libido in men. There have also been claims that soy, when consumed in large quantities, can cause gynecomastia, the abnormal enlargement of mammary glands in men.

Goiter caused by an enlarged thyroid gland.
Goiter caused by an enlarged thyroid gland. | Source


Soy is a goitrogen, which is a fancy word to say that it suppresses the function of the thyroid gland. This can lead to thyroid enlargement and to Goiter (swelling of the neck due to an enlarged thyroid.) Because the thyroid gland stops functioning as well as it should, you could potentially end up with hypothyroidism.

Soy and digestive problems

Soy contains high levels of phytic acid. Phytic acid is not digestibly by humans. The worst thing is that it inhibits the body from properly absorbing essential minerals, such as iron, calcium and zinc, which are essential to the development and functioning of the brain and nervous system.

Protease and trypsin are enzymes that help with the digestion of protein. Soy contains protease and trypsin inhibitors, which means that your body will have a hard time digesting and absorbing protein.

Soy and Cancer

As stated before, soy could increase breast cancer risk, as well as other forms of cancer. Four grams of soy daily could increase risk of prostate cancer by 120% and ovary cancer by 15%.

Soy has made its way even to baby formulas.
Soy has made its way even to baby formulas. | Source

The good news about soy

Now that we heard all the bad stuff about soy, let's hear a bit of good news. The good news pretty much summarize in three parts:

  • In order to cause all those problems, soy has to be consumed in large quantities
  • Most studies that have been done about soy have been done on animals. (Animals don't react the same as humans to everything.)
  • The type of soy you eat matters.

Did you know?

As of 2012, 93% of American soy production was genetically modified. This is the type of soy that can be harmful to your health...

Studies with humans

A study published in 2001 in one of the main magazines of the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) found that babies that were fed with soy were in same or better health that babies that were fed with cow milk (breast milk is still be the best option).

The study also followed 811 men and women between 20-34 years of age. These men and women had previously participated in cow milk vs. soy milk studies in their childhood. The results? They had no difference in their overall health and no reproduction problems when compared to the children who grew up on cow milk.
*There was only one difference: women's cycles were slightly longer (by 8 hours) than those who drank cow milk.

Animal studies

Most of the negative findings about soy have been based on animal studies. The first negative results about soy came from a 1985 study which linked soy to pancreatic cancer in rats. However, before we get scared, we need to know that rats, as well as chickens, have a pancreas that is very sensitive to protease inhibitors found in soy. The rat pancreas is very different from the human pancreas. Different needs, different pancreas.

To put things in perspective, think about this: breast milk is toxic for rats, but that doesn't mean it's also toxic for babies. In fact, as we all know, breast milk is the best thing a baby could drink. Not everything that is bad for animals, is also bad for humans.

Types of soy

Some of the healthiest and long-lived people come from places that consume plenty of soy. However, the soy they consume might be very different from the one we get in more developed countries. Soy could be perfectly healthy as long as it is not GMO (genetically modified) and as long as it hasn't been fumigated with chemical products. So good luck finding soy like that.

Say 'no' to genetically modified soy!
Say 'no' to genetically modified soy! | Source

Everything in moderation

Even the healthiest foods need to be consumed with moderation. The same applies to soy. Since we still don't know exactly what soy can or cannot cause, eat it with moderation. Have a healthy diet, and don't rely too much on one single thing to act as the elixir for all health problems. Eat a healthy and moderate diet.

Happy living!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2014 Silver Q


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)