There is fervor on the internet about “soyboys” and the believed danger of consuming soy. Many online bloggers proclaim that soy feminizes men, and makes men grow breasts. Other claim that it causes other hormonal imbalances, breast cancer, and even infertility in men. But are these claims backed up by science? No, they are not.
Soy cause not feminize men
Despite what some manly men want to believe, soy does not cause a feminizing effect in men. This myth is believed due to the fact that soy contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are a simply a compound found in many plants that looks and sometimes acts similarly to estrogen. But it is vital to note that these are two drastically different compounds.
A lot of this fear of soy occurred due to a single case study of 1 male who was suffering from increased breast growth but no other hormonal issues. This was due to the man consuming 3 quarts of soymilk a day, or the equivalent of 12 cups of soymilk, each and every day, for months. And this seems to only be a one-off case.
Many Asian countries consume a large quantity of soy as a part of their diet. Despite this, increased breast growth in males doesn’t happen, meaning that the fear of “man boobs” from the consumption of soy products is less something backed by science, and more something fueled by fragile masculinity. But since we are here, let’s check some other concerns about soy.
Soy does not cause cancer
There is also fear that soy can cause breast cancer. However, scientific studies seem to suggest the opposite when it comes to phytoestrogens. At worst, the studies show that soy has a relatively neutral effect on hormone-dependant cancers, such as breast cancer. But at best, these studies can show that high phytoestrogen intake reduces risk of breast cancer development, even in people who have breast cancer, and people who are recovering from it.
One recent systematic review posted in 2020 in the journal Nutrition Reviews stated that “Dietary phytoestrogens may play a role in survival from breast cancer.” This review looked at 28 studies to see if they can find any kind of link between phytoestrogen consumption and multiple types of cancers. They could not find a link to any other cancers, however.
Soy is actually a healthy part of a balanced diet
Soy is simply a legume, a bean. It is very high in protein and unsaturated fat, and is often pressed or blended to make tofu or a milk out of. This plant-based protein can actually be very healthy, and helps to provide many people an adequate amount of amino-acid-rich nutrients.
Vegans and vegetarians, for example, are huge consumers of soy-based products. These helps them to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet while avoiding meat. And as mentioned before, many cultures in Asia have been consuming soy in soups, milks, and stir-fries for thousands of years as a dietary staple.
So eat some soy if you like it, or if you do not like it or are allergic, then don’t. You do not need to consume soy to be healthy, but it will not hurt you unless you have an allergy to it.