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Toxicity and Harmful Effects of Soy Products

author image Adam Cloe
Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals, including the "Journal of Biochemistry." He is currently a pathology resident at the University of Chicago. Cloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, a M.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago.
Toxicity and Harmful Effects of Soy Products
Soyybeans can be made into many products. Photo Credit Soybeans image by bonjo from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Soybeans can be consumed whole or eaten in processed form in a variety of products. For example, it can be made into soy milk, tofu and soy protein isolate, which can be added to food products. Supplements containing chemicals from soy can also be consumed. Although soy is safe for many people to use, there are concerns about the safety of consuming some soy products.


One concern associated with soy products is allergies. Soy allergies usually begin as a result of a reaction to soy-based infant formulas, MayoClinic.com states. Most allergies to soy cause only mild symptoms, such as a rash, hives or tingling in the mouth. More severe allergies can cause dizziness, swelling of the face and lips, a runny nose, wheezing, lightheadedness or fainting. In severe cases, your breathing can become impaired, which requires immediate medical attention.

Soy and Cancer

There is also a concern that soy products could contribute to some hormonally-responsive cancers, such as breast, uterine and ovarian cancer, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports. Soy contains chemicals known as isoflavones, which are similar to the hormone estrogen. Abnormal estrogen signaling can contribute to the development of cancer cells that respond to this hormone, which can occur with breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. The isoflavones could promote the growth of these types of cancer.

Supplement Safety

Some soy supplements are taken by women in the hopes of reducing some of the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and bone loss. These supplements typically contain high amounts of isoflavones. One kind of soy supplement, known as soy hypocotyl isoflavones, examined the effects to see if they lead to an increased risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer or other health problems. Although soy hypocotyl isoflavones are safe, MedLinePlus reports that other types of soy supplements could still increase your cancer risk.

Soy and Gout

Soy protein can also contribute to gout. Gout is a type of arthritis which is caused by uric acid crystals forming in the joints, resulting in intense inflammation and pain, particularly in the big toe. One thing which can trigger a gout attack is eating foods with a chemical known as purines, as the body metabolizes purines into uric acid. Soy contains a moderate amount of purines, MedLinePlus notes, which means that soy products can be detrimental to people who suffer from gout.

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