The Hormone Hustle

SF Gate culture columnist Mark Morford is all riled up. He has stumbled across a hateful piece by religious reformer Jim Rutz that proclaims “Soy Is Making Kids ‘Gay.’”

The culture wars, it would seem, have moved to the dinner table.

Rutz’s argument that the phytoestrogens in soy formula can overwhelm testosterone in baby boys seems to be rational, until you get to this paragraph:

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That’s why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today’s rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products.

Okaaayyy, we’re backing away slowly. Proclamations like this just seem to lather up Morford, who breaks out the big sarcasm gun to respond:

God hates vegans. Is it not obvious? After all, most vegans eat a lot of soy. Consequently, most vegans are, of course, violently gay, just like billions of Asians who’ve eaten soy products for millennia and are so gay and feminine and estrogen heavy they can barely stand up. Which explains Hello Kitty. And samurai movies.

As Morford himself notes, there is plant-based estrogen in soy. And there’s a world of difference between an Asian diet of tofu and soymilk and an American vegetarian diet that relies on heavily processed soy-based meats from potentially genetically modified soybeans. A mono diet is never a good thing; too much of even something as healthy as spinach can give you kidney stones. Still, I thought we put our soy fears to rest five years ago, when the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a long-term study of adults fed soy-based formula as babies led to this conclusion:

Exposure to soy formula does not appear to lead to different general health or reproductive outcomes than exposure to cow milk formula. Although the few positive findings should be explored in future studies, our findings are reassuring about the safety of infant soy formula.

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