Do real men eat soy? But if they want to become fathers, they may want to limit their tofu intake. A new study shows that downing soy products may lower sperm count. The reason, according to the research published in the journal Human Reproduction pdf : soy beans contain high amounts of phytoestrogens, organic compounds that mimic the female hormone estrogen in the human body and, in animal studies, have been shown to reduce testosterone levels. Lead study author Jorge Chavarro, a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health,and his colleagues found that men who ate at least half a serving a day of soy had, on average, 34 million fewer sperm per milliliter than those who skipped it. But Chavarro doesn't recommend you give up the soy burgers—at least not yet.
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Soya-based food and male fertility
Eating soya could slash men's sperm count | New Scientist
The reason for this relationship between soy and sperm count isn't clear. However, researchers speculate that soy increases estrogen activity, which may have a negative affect on sperm production and also interfere with other hormonal signals. Jorge Chavarro, a research fellow in the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Research in animals has shown that isoflavones and estrogen can have a potentially negative affect on reproduction, including decreased fertility, Chavarro said. However, there is very little evidence of how these findings apply to humans, he said. The new research, he added, lends support to how results of animal studies apply to humans. But Chavarro considers the findings preliminary and inconclusive.
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Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
This file photo taken on June, , shows soybeans in fields in the northern Argentine province of Santa Fe. The study is the largest in humans to look at the relationship between semen quality and a plant form of the female sex hormone estrogen known as phytoestrogen, which is plentiful in soy-rich foods. Chavarro said studies in animals have linked high consumption of plant-derived estrogens known as isoflavones with infertility, but so far there has been little evidence of their effect in humans.
The impact of isoflavones, plant chemicals in soy that act as weak estrogens, on male fertility has been studied with inconsistent results. This study was a relatively small one. It included 99 men from couples who had come to the fertility center at Massachusetts General Hospital. After giving a semen sample, the men were asked to complete a questionnaire that included items on how often, on average, they had eaten each of 15 soy foods listed during the past three months.