Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Introduction to HomoSOYxuality

Every month I try my very best to get in touch with my relatives, especially now that I live over 985 miles from what used to be home. In one of those events I routinely label 'The Round', I call basically all my family (usually my aunts and grandma because I come from a very matriarchal family).  They love hearing from us, knowing about how the kids are growing so fast, their funny personalities, my day-to-day chores, how I've recently been threatened by a right-wing extremist in the middle of the streets, the good and the bad of a migrant's life. Some calls get to be super funny because one of my aunts always falls for my classic pranks where I play the role of a Brazilian salesman trying to get her to buy the newest internet package, or a Ukrainian construction engineer asking for a cab... I don't know why, but her naivety is so contagious that the whole family ends up laughing of her incapacity to recognise me amongst my million voices.

In one of those calls I ended up talking to my godmother. She is a secondary school teacher... I guess she is retired now, but the indoctrination spirit is still there, and quite alert! And she loves pharmacology in the 'hypochondriac' way. Well, not that she is a hypochondriac, I must say, but she knows basically everything a real hypochondriac needs to know to be a hardcore professional hypochondriac. 

And on that specific day she went on and on about stuff I am still trying to digest, advice after advice, nothing very technical or scientific in the data sense of the topic; but quite accurate, to say the least. It was all good until she started, like many other times in the past, complaining about my vegetarian options and my soy milk breakfasts. Straight away she told me she read somewhere, somewhen, that soy milk breakfasts end up giving you soy milk breasts... 'Do not feed that to your child, please avoid it'. I came to know that the web is filled with scare-articles about boys growing with reduced-size testicles and boobies so big they look like silicon implants. 

But what is in fact true about this new wave of articles relating soy (and its potent phytooestrogen daidzein - belonging to a group of isoflavones) to the appearing of female traits in male children? I had to investigate.

I immediately recalled having read an article, long time back, written by a redneck religious prophet bragging about soy being the cause of high homosexuality incidence rates in America. And when I read that article I honestly felt towards those prophets, like Albert Camus, when he once said:

But after, I realised that the best way to refute a secular supposed scientific preconception is by analysing the alleged scientific foundations that give roots to such false-belief. Could it be possible that there was a dash of scientific grounds to even remotely assume that soy consumption, due to its high oestrogen levels, can make you physically/behaviourally effeminate? I had to go straight to the scientific facts, the studies with no moral judgements from any third-parties whatsoever. I needed to make sure the assessed studies were based on physical and endocrine alterations and not a witch hunt everyone is already so sick of.

Study Title
Methodology and/or Goals
Relevant Endocrine/Physical observations
Altered sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area (SDN-POA) volume in adult Long–Evans rats by dietary soy phytoestrogens [1]
Animals were fed either a phytoestrogen-rich (Phyto-600) or a phytoestrogen-free (Phyto-free) diet. And also males or females fed the Phyto-600 diet (from birth) were switched to the Phyto-free diet. 
Consumption of phytoestrogens via a soy diet, significantly: (1) decreases body and prostate weight, (2) delays puberty onset, and (3) alters SDN-POA volumes during adulthood.
A soy supplement and tamoxifen inhibit sexual behaviour in female rats [2].

 Examined the impact of the selective oestrogen receptor modulator tamoxifen and a popular soy phytoestrogen dietary supplement on female sexual behaviour in rats. Ovariectomised female rats were given either tamoxifen or the soy supplement, then injected with oestradiol benzoate or oil (followed with an injection of progesterone) and tested for sexual behaviour after the progesterone injection. 
Soy significantly attenuated paced mating behaviour in animals compared to controls acting as an oestrogen antagonist on female rats.
Safety of Soy-Based Infant Formulas Containing Isoflavones: The Clinical Evidence [3].
Discusses the available clinical evidence regarding isoflavones in soy infant formulas in relation to nutritional adequacy, sexual development, neurobehavioral development, immune function, and thyroid disease.
Available evidence from adult human and infant populations indicates that dietary isoflavones in soy infant formulas do not adversely affect human growth, development, or reproduction.
Oestrogens and phytoestrogens: brain plasticity of sexually dimorphic brain volumes [4].

Examined the consumption of phytoestrogen (using a phytoestrogen-rich versus a phytoestrogen-free diet) s from conception to adulthood (and shifting) to characterise (a) circulating plasma phytoestrogen levels, (b) testosterone levels in males, (c) sexually dimorphic brain volumes and (d) the presence of apoptotic cells in these brain structures in Long-Evans rats. 
Consumption of dietary phytoestrogens can alter hormone-sensitive hypothalamic brain volumes in rodents during adulthood.
Changes in male reproductive system and mineral metabolism induced by soy isoflavones administered to rats from prenatal life until sexual maturity [5].
Determined the influence of high-dose soy isoflavones (daidzein and genistein) administered from prenatal life to sexual maturity on testosterone and oestradiol levels, testicular and epididymal morphology, the number of epididymal spermatozoa, and mineral metabolism in rats.
 Relatively mild effects of phytoestrogen administration on the morphology of testes and epididymides and the number of epididymal spermatozoa were observed despite the high dose used. 
Soy, phyto-oestrogens and male reproductive function: a review [6].
Examined the evidence regarding the potential detrimental effects of soy and phyto-oestrogens on male reproductive function and fertility in humans and animals.
Overall, there are some indications that phyto-oestrogens, alone or in combination with other endocrine disruptors, however, these results must be interpreted with care, as a result of the paucity of human studies and as numerous reports did not reveal any adverse effects on male reproductive physiology.

After analysing the overall observation of these carefully selected studies I came to the easy conclusion that there are so many latent questions to answer that it is almost impossible to do a proper job with a single post. Questions as simple as what can be considered a soy-rich diet, how much is too much for the human endocrine system, what daily consumption can be assumed to produce significant results, what exact indicators shift behaviour, and what is their significance in the holistic perspective of things?..., etc etc etc.

Like most of these articles suggest, the results need extreme care in their analysis and none favour a specific trend or school of thought. They are in need of yet a lot more data to actually impose anything conclusive. Therefore, I decided to give it yet another go. In the next post I'll be summarising the significant physical/endocrine/behavioural alterations that are indeed observed and described in the above mentioned articles.


[1] Lund, T. D., Rhees, R. W., Setchell, K. D. R., Lephart, E. D. (2001). "Altered sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area (SDN-POA) volume in adult Long–Evans rats by dietary soy phytoestrogens". Brain Research, 914(1-2), pp. 92-99.         

[2] Patisaul, H. B., Luskin, J. R., Wilson, M. E. (2004). "A soy supplement and tamoxifen inhibit sexual behavior in female rats". Hormones and Behavior, 45(4), pp. 270-277.
[3] Merrit, R. J. and Jenks, B. H. (2004). "Safety of Soy-Based Infant Formulas Containing Isoflavones: The Clinical Evidence". The Journal of Nutrition, 134, pp. 1220S-1224S.

[4] Lephart, E. D., Rhees, R. W., Setchell, K. D. R., Bu, L. H., Lund, T. H. (2003). "Estrogens and phytoestrogens: brain plasticity of sexually dimorphic brain volumes". The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 85 (2-5), pp. 299-309. 

[5] Piotrowska, K. et al. (2011). "Changes in male reproductive system and mineral metabolism induced by soy isoflavones administered to rats from prenatal life until sexual maturity". Nutrition, 27(3), pp. 372-379.

[6] Cederroth, C., Auger, J., Zimmermann, C., Eustache, F., Nef, S. (2009). "Soy, phyto-oestrogens and male reproductive function: a review". International Journal of Andrology, 33(2), pp. 304-316.

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