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TideWriters Tales
Say It Isn’t Soy
by Emily Pritchard Cary

     Diabetic children. Premature puberty. Learning disabilities. Thyroid disorders. Uterine cancer. Reproductive problems. Weight gain. What is the common denominator?

     “Milk Pails,“ Catherine C. Brooks’ nostalgic piece in the September issue of Chesapeake Style, emphasizes the joys of growing up on a farm in Mathews County, Virginia where rich cow’s milk, hefty chunks of butter, and clouds of whipped cream provided buoyant health and joy to all partakers. 

     Fast forward to 2004. Americans are beset by ailments seldom endured to this extent by earlier generations. Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig, internationally respected nutritionists and directors of the Weston A. Price Foundation in Washington, DC, believe that the promotion of soy as a dietary panacea is the culprit, but their warnings are shouted down by those reaping a bonanza in the market place. 

     How did the lowly bean once regarded as a poisonous substance and used as a gasoline additive in the 1920s become the darling of health gurus and beauty advisors?

     Blame the misinformed, the imitation food industry, the advertisers, and the American soy farmers who have leapfrogged economically over wheat, corn, and cotton farmers by boldly marketing soy to manufacturers in this country and exporting mega-tons of soy products to the rest of the world.

     Exactly what is wrong with soy?

1. Soy is a phytoestrogen. In other words, it increases the estrogens in those who consume it. Is it any wonder, then, that children raised on soy formulas are entering puberty far earlier than previous generations? Or that women taking hormone replacement are more apt to develop breast cancer if they have a history of soy consumption?

2. Childhood diabetes, concurrent with rising adult obesity, has reached a national emergency. Reports suggest that children raised on soy-based products have twice as much chance of becoming diabetic as those who were breast-fed or consumed milk-based formulas.

Infants receiving soy formula are unwitting victims. Researchers conclude that they can expect high rates of reproductive disorders, asthma, and allergies. They may also suffer from brain damage caused by toxic manganese. Scientists report that soy infant formula contains up to 200 times the manganese of breast milk. Since babies cannot dispose of the excess, it lodges in the liver, the kidneys, the brain, and other soft body tissues. In time, manganese toxicity can lead to emotional behavior.

3. Young girls who develop breasts and pubic hair before the age of eight are no longer uncommon in public schools, but first, second, and third graders bewildered by their changing bodies are not sufficiently mature to handle peer teasing and the responsibility of changing sanitary napkins during the school day. Additionally parents and teachers worry that the rise of early puberty contributes to increased sexual activity among teenagers, even pre-teens. 

 4. Many women taking estrogen to ease or postpone the aging process unwittingly multiply the amount they consume by supplementing their prescriptions at the dinner table. This is double jeopardy.

Fallon and Enig attribute the explosion of soy products to claims by its boosters that Japanese enjoy better health than Americans because they consume great quantities of soy. This is simply soy-wash. 

“Soy is a condiment in Asian diets, not a staple,” Dr. Enig says. “No one could call mustard a staple in the American diet even though it is a very typical foodstuff.”

     She emphasizes that the daily average soy food consumption in Asia is less than nine grams, or about two teaspoons. This compares with the 35 grams of soy protein per day recommended by the FDA. Studies show that the daily intake of 45 mg for one month can cause hormonal changes in women, and yet the average daily intake of children receiving soy formula is 38 mg, a shocking amount considering the difference in body weight between infants and adults. In December 2003, Fallon testified before the FDA’s Food Advisory Committee about the negative health impact of soy infant formula. No action has yet been taken by the government to warn consumers

     When I began teaching in 1970, overweight, diabetic, learning disabled, and sexually mature children were rarely seen in a typical elementary school classroom. In contrast, today’s schools are overwhelmed by children requiring special attention for these, and related, physical and mental problems. A growing body of credible medical and dietary research suggests that these conditions may be traced to soy products consumed by children or by their mothers prior to giving birth. 

     Has this situation occurred because the FDA is in the clutches of the imitation food industry, which presses soy milk and tofu burgers as replacements for eggs, fish, meat, milk, and poultry?

     From cereals and pasta to quasi-dairy products, grocery and health store shelves groan with hundreds of soy-based items touted as cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease preventives.

     Contrary to unsubstantiated claims created by ad agencies, numerous scientific studies confirm that soy lowers thyroid functions and may cause goiters. In turn, low thyroid function contributes significantly to osteoporosis, heart disease, and menopause problems.

     Expensive soy products hawked as health panaceas are a serious problem. Even more ominous, soy has sneaked in where it’s least expected, perhaps as a wheat or dairy substitute in noodles, soups, sauces, cookies, oven-ready meals, and low-fat elixirs. The cautious consumer must take time to read the ingredients in manufactured food products frequently purchased.

     Total up the amount of soy Americans consume both with and without their knowledge and it’s easy to understand why the fields of soy spanning our heartland are the next killing fields.


To counteract the use of soy as a substitute for meat and dairy products, the Weston A. Price Foundation sponsors over 200 local chapters in the U. S., Canada, and overseas of farmers and other citizens who promote organic produce and milk products from pasture-fed livestock. Fourteen of them are in Virginia and Maryland. For more information, visit www.westonaprice.org
Some Medical Conditions Caused by Soy
Chronic Fatigue
Heart arrhythmia 
Heart or Liver Disease
Infertility/Reproductive Problems
Pancreatic Disorders
Premature or Delayed Puberty
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Thyroid Conditions/Nodules/Cancer
Uterine Cancer
Weight Gain
Brief List of Products Containing Soy
Baby foods/Infant formula
Baskin Robbins ice cream
Breads, muffins, doughnuts
Bumblebee canned tuna
Chef Boyardee Ravioli
Heinz Horseradish Sauce
Hershey’s chocolate
Hot chocolate mixes
Lemonade mixes
Luncheon meats/sausages
McDonalds and other fast-food burgers
Meal replacement beverages
Pizza Hut pizzas
Snack/energy bars
Veggie burgers
Non-Edible Soy Products Causing Sensitivity
Paperboard boxes
Soy Aliases
HVP (hydrolysed vegetable protein)
MSG (monosodium glutamate)
TVP (textured plant protein)
“vegetable protein concentrate”
“vegetable oil”

©2004 Emily Pritchard Cary All rights reserved. Contact Catherine C. Brooks at 


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