Soy Foods Have Downside for Health of Infants, Adults




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Rich Murray: Paddock: soy problems; hypothyroidism 3.25.1 rmforall

    Date:    Sat, 24 Mar 2001 23:06:23 +1200
   From:   "Richard & Valerie james" <>
 Organization:   Soy Information Service
       To:    "Rich Murray" <>

----- Original Message -----
From: James E. Paddock, ASLA
To: Richard & Valerie James
Sent: Sunday, 18 March 2001 05:10
Subject: Re: soy and thyroid

Hi Dick and Valerie. I write a weekly column in The Gettysburg Times, usually on mental health, family life, or business. This column, "Soy foods have downside for health" appeared today discussing soy. The hypothyroid and depression column appears next Saturday. I've also e-mailed the summary to most of my friends, and given it to the owner of my local health food store. My column has been running for five years and has a good readership in the local area.
Hope this helps! Susan Star Paddock  (717) 334-5502

Soy Foods Have Downside for Health of Infants, Adults

Myra was like a lot of educated women today. She listened to dietary advice and ate more vegetarian foods. She heard from many experts that soy foods were great for her heart so she began to eat soy several times a day. She loved soy milk, soy cheese, soy cereal, soy burgers, soy bacon, tofu etc, etc. She was wondering why on such a healthy diet she couldn't lose an ounce, no matter what she did. In fact, over the last few years she'd gained steadily. Her energy seemed to disappear and she developed dry skin, a puffy face, headaches, constipation, and painful joints. She always felt cold, and had to fight depression. She chalked it all up to aging, but a thyroid test found her thyroid gland was hardly functioning.

Of all the risk factors for developing thyroid disease, Myrna was shocked to discover that over-consumption of soy foods was the major culprit. Soy is touted as a wonder food, and even the Food and Drug administration released a statement last year saying that soy products could help prevent heart disease. No longer confined to health food stores, soy products are in every supermarket. But through all the hype, many scientists are challenging the safety of soy products. Two of those scientists, soy researchers with the FDA National Center for Toxicological Research, tried to stop the FDA statement with a protest letter about the negative health effects of soy. Their letter and other concerns about soy can be found at

Apparently scientists have known for years that the isoflavones in soy products can depress thyroid function and cause goiters in otherwise healthy children and adults. Researchers at Cornell University Medical College said that children who got soy formula were more likely to develop thyroid disease and that twice as many diabetic children had received soy formula in infancy as compared to non-diabetic children. In fact, in other countries such as Switzerland, England, Australia and New Zealand, public health officials recommend highly restricted medically monitored use of soy for babies and for pregnant women. Soy formula is a lifesaver for the 3 to 4 percent of babies allergic to cows milk, but it is so widely advertised that it is sold to 25% of the entire formula market. Soy also contains a natural estrogen, which is why it is recommended to women at menopause. The president of the Maryland Nutritionists Association, Mary Enig, Ph.D. stated that "The amount of phytoestrogens that are in a days worth of soy infant formula equals five birth control pills." Dr. Enig believes that soy infant formula may be associated with early puberty in girls and slower physical growth in boys. Others say it may effect fertility and normal brain development. reports an ongoing study involving 3,734 elderly Japanese-American men. That research has found that the men who ate the most tofu during mid-life had up to 2.4 times the risk of later developing Alzheimer's  disease. Lead researcher Dr. Lon R. White said that men who ate tofu at least twice weekly showed brain aging about five years faster than those who seldom ate tofu. Soy has also been implicated in interference with the absorption of zinc, calcium, protein enzymes and amino acids.

Soy is an important crop on American farms, and there is a strong soy lobby. Nutritionists may urge people, especially women to eat more of it. But as Dr. Larrian Gillespie, MD says, "I was recently in China and saw how little soy is used in the daily diet of the Chinese. We in America think we must consume the entire container of tofu in one or two days, when that is enough for a whole week!" So moderation is a good rule for soy as for everything else.

Thyroid Problems Mis-diagnosed as Depression

Selena had been diagnosed with Major Depression and was put on an anti-depressant. The medication helped her mood somewhat, but not as much as expected. Worse, the physical symptoms that caused her to seek out the medical consult were still not resolved. She seemed to feel cold all the time, her skin was dry, her hands and feet ached, and she was constipated. Eventually the MD ordered a thyroid function test and this time Selena was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Treating the underlying medical condition cleared her depression and gave her more energy than she'd felt in years.

The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland at the base of the throat. When the thyroid is working normally it sets the pace for the rest of the body's metabolism. When it is producing too much thyroid hormone the heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism all speed up. On the other hand, when the thyroid moves too slowly the heart rate and body temperature lowers, and the metabolism slows so much that hardly any calories are burned. That is called hypothyroidism and researchers estimate that it effects 13 million Americans. Mary J. Shomon, a thyroid patient, has written a heavily researched book called "Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You That You Need to Know" (Whole Care-Avon, 2000, $14).

Symptoms of hypothyroid seem so vague and disconnected that it is frequently mis-diagnosed. The symptoms can include depression and common symptoms of depression such as lack of motivation, "brain fog", low energy, trouble concentrating, feelings of sadness, forgetfulness, restlessness, mood changes and weight gain. That is why depression is often the first diagnosis. All people being treated for depression should have a thyroid test. Other symptoms lead to other wrong diagnoses. For example, some patients only report unexplained weight gain and inability to lose no matter how carefully they diet or exercise. Their metabolism has slowed to a crawl. Other thyroid symptoms such as digestive problems and constipation can lead to expensive testing for stomach problems. Thyroid-related problems can include high cholesterol and dry skin. It can is also a factor in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or fibromyalgia.

Hypothyroid symptoms can include lowered sex drive and fertility problems. New allergies or a worsening of additional allergies, breathing difficulties, recurrent sinus infections and asthma-like feelings can lead to a diagnosis of an upper respiratory problem. Other symptoms can include dizziness or vertigo, puffiness or swelling, and even snoring. Eyes may feel gritty and dry or feel sensitive to light, and there may be a ringing in the ears. Hypothyroidism can cause irregular menstrual cycles, trouble conceiving a baby, the development of ovarian cysts and even miscarriages. People sometimes feel a lump in their throat, or other strange feelings in their neck and throat.

Thyroid disease is ruled out through a simple blood test, the TSH. However, some people have thyroid symptoms even though their blood test falls into the normal range, because what is normal to one person is not to another. More sensitive tests can be given. It is important that if people think they may have hypothyroidism that they educate themselves and ask for what they want from their doctors. On the Internet there are some great web sites such as and both managed by Mary Shomon. If hypothyroidism is diagnosed, there are several thyroid medications that can be used and diet changes can also help. Soy foods should be avoided as they have been implicated in the development of thyroid problems in infants and adults.
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