Many health-food producers are enamored of soy and its isoflavones, estrogen-mimicking chemicals that account for many of the legume’s purported health benefits. But new research indicates that all those plant hormones might be damaging women’s cardiovascular health.
As Science News reports, some docs recommend isoflavone supplements as an alternative to hormone-replacement therapy for postmenopausal women. But researchers discovered that the women in this age group who had the highest blood concentrations of genistein (one of soy’s main isoflavones) also had reduced blood flow, a symptom of heart disease.
Of course, while this 900-person, decade-long study is definitely something to take seriously, it doesn’t determine whether soy actually causes vascular issues—it could well be that the study volunteers who already had symptoms of heart trouble were more likely to turn to “healthy” foods like soy. Further studies may suss out the connection, but it does seem like there’s a growing number of reasons for women to avoid the bean. And it’s not just a matter of cutting out the tofu and tamari—most processed food contains soy in some form.
There’s less evidence that soy is bad for men, but at least we pretty much know for sure that it doesn’t turn boys gay.