As your reading this, carefully consider if there’s a conspiracy going on, because apparently Asians don’t really eat a lot of soy products. Soy apparently was considered a peasant food. The other thing about this is that yet again, overweight people become an issue. So, maybe the health benefits of soy are actually aimed at population control and/or wiping out all of the other races. If there is a lower sperm count the survival of the species becomes limited to fewer and fewer swimming spermies! Regardless, the fact that soy has estrogenic effects on men, meaning you become more female-ish, is enough to cut it out of the diet. 🙂
Tofu a day, sperm goes away: study
A new study has found that men who consume more soy products have lower sperm counts, especially if they are overweight.
The study, published in yesterday’s online version of the journal Human Reproduction, found that men who ate the most soy food had 41 million fewer sperm per millilitre than those who did not consume soy products.
“What we found was men that had the highest intake of soy foods had a lower sperm concentration,” said Jorge Chavarro of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, who led the study.
He believes this happens because soy contains isoflavones, a naturally occurring compound that can mimic the effects of estrogen.
Previous studies have linked high consumption of isoflavones with infertility in animals, but Dr. Chavarro’s research is the first to show a similar effect in humans.
The study analyzed the semen of 99 men who attended a U.S. fertility clinic between 2000 and 2006. The men were asked how often they ate soy products, including tofu, tempeh, soy milk and other soy products such as ice creams, cheeses and energy bars.
The average intake of soy for those with the highest consumption levels was about half a serving a day, although some men in that group ate as many as four servings a day. (A standard serving of tofu was 115 grams.)
The researchers also found that soy food intake had the greatest impact on sperm concentrations among those who were also overweight or obese.
This may be because overweight men already have higher levels of estrogen, Dr. Chavarro said.
“It’s possible that when you already have very high levels of estrogen, an additional source of an estrogen-like compound may become an issue, but not if you’re a lean man,” he said.
This may explain why soy does not seem to affect fertility among Asian populations, for whom it is a food staple, he said. Obesity is not as common in Asian populations as it is among Western men.
In Dr. Chavarro’s study, it was not clear whether the reduction in sperm count was a factor in the subjects’ fertility issues, and he believes it is too early to warn people away from soy.
“I guess if somebody already knows they have a low sperm count and they’re very avid consumers of soy foods they could try stopping it, but there’s no guarantee that’s going to help them,” he said.
Isoflavones are present in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including black beans, peas and other legumes, but are most concentrated in soy.
The average sperm concentration for men ranges between 80 million and 120 million per millilitre. But even with reduced sperm count, men are capable of conceiving a child, said Dr. Chavarro, and soy seemed to have no other adverse effect on the sperm.
The study corrected for other factors that may affect sperm count, such as age, caffeine intake and smoking.
There have been two other studies on the connection between soy and sperm count. One, a study of 14 young men, found no change in semen quality, while the other, which followed 48 men, found that isoflavone intake had a positive effect on sperm count.
The men in Dr. Chavarro’s study were predominantly white, and he plans to test the connection with different ethnic groups, as well as with larger sample sizes.