The soybean was first introduced to North America from China in the 18th century but was not widely farmed until the 1950s. Soy really took off in the 1990s with the introduction of herbicides that made it more resistant to insects. Now, you can find an abundance of soy products from milks to just about every form of processed food on the market. Because soy contains estrogen-like chemicals, there has been some question as to the safety of soy products on the growth patterns of teen girls in particular.
According to Harvard Health, soy can have estrogen-like effects because it contains molecules that may compete with the body’s natural estrogen levels by interacting with estrogen receptors. In effect, this means that girls who eat soy products may experience early puberty, according to the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation. Doctors recommend limiting soy, and, until adequate research negates the link between estrogen receptors and soy that may lead to normal growth disruptors, that is probably a good idea. Doctors recommend limiting soy to one or two glasses per day.
Soy Contains GMOs
Soy is one of the most genetically modified crops on the planet, with up to 95 percent having been chemically altered with an insecticide called Roundup in order to make them more resistant to insects and disease. Because there is a possibility that the active ingredient in Roundup, called glyphosate, can cause hormonal imbalance, soy products in general are not a safe option to feed a teen girl. Soy products can be found in many processed foods on the market today listed under a variety of names, including mono-diglyceride, soya, yuba, lecithin and monosodium glutamate. Because of the potential dangers of GMOs, it is important to feed your teen girl only organic soy products to ensure her safety.
Breast Cancer Reduction
There have been studies on women who have had breast cancer that indicate there is a reduced risk of recurrence when they are given isoflavone or soy proteins, the active ingredients in soy. There is also support for the association of soy consumption with a reduced risk of cancer in premenopausal women based on a Shanghai Women’s Health Study; however, it is not known whether study participants were given GMO soy or organic.
Because of the contradictory nature of the study of soy isoflavones and the effect soy might have on estrogen levels and thyroid function, it may be prudent to limit the amount of soy you give to your teen girl until further conclusive evidence proves it is entirely safe for adolescent consumption. When deciding to feed your teenager soy, it might be wise to purchase organic products and limit the amount to ensure your teen’s body remains healthy and balanced.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Adolescent and adult soy food intake and breast cancer risk
- GreenLiving: Dangers of Soy
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Soy food intake after diagnosis of breast cancer and survival
- Harvard Health Publications: By the way, doctor: Children and soy milk
- Sutter Health: Early Puberty in Girls
- Dayton’s Children’s: Early Puberty: Developing too Soon
- Iowa State University: Department of Agronomy: Origin, History and Uses of Soybean