Dear Alice,

Is it true, according to studies, that taking a lot of soy may make a man more feminine?

Dear Reader,

Mmmmmm, soy…. Soy is a rich source of phytoestrogens (also called isoflavones) which mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen. Both men and women have estrogen; women just have more. So, does eating a lot of soy cause a hormonal imbalance in men? Be comforted to know that soy consumption does not increase estrogen levels in men (or women for that matter). Besides mimicking estrogen, phytoestrogens actually help moderate the levels of estrogen in the body — that is, when estrogen levels are low, phytoestrogens act like the hormone estrogen. When estrogen levels are high, phytoestrogens act as anti-estrogen agents.

Research has looked at the effect of soy on hormone concentrations (including estrogen and other reproductive/sex hormones) in men, and found negligible changes in hormone levels. Eating soy from food sources (like soy beans, soy milk, and so on) will not make a man's features more feminine. In fact, several studies show positive effects from eating soy including that it's linked with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and different types of cancer (mainly cancers of the breast, prostate, and ovaries).

Research has also looked at the effect of soy on sperm quality (including ejaculate volume, sperm concentration, total sperm count and motility). These studies suggest that eating soy does not affect sperm quality. So fear not, the idea that soy impacts masculine traits or features is a myth. Enjoy the soy,


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