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Scientists Disagree With Harvard Study Linking Soy With Male Infertility

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Monday, October 22, 2007 | 0 comments

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - According to a new study on soy and fertility levels, the latest research discounts a previous study that linked soy with male low sperm count. The recent study by a Colorado researcher questions the conclusions of a Harvard study while toting the fact that Asian cultures have been consuming soy for generations.

The small scale, preliminary study that Dr. Jorge Chavarro from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston was based on recollected intake of soyfoods and not on specific diets containing soyfoods.

Dr. Tammy Hedland, a researcher on male fertility issues, including soy, from the Health Sciences Center, Department of Pathology at the University of Colorado says, "This study is confounded by many issues, thus I feel the results should be viewed with a great deal of caution."

According to Hedland's review of his study and one she conducted the research did not find a negative relationship between soy and sperm mobility or sperm quality, which are both key factors to fertility. The study also did not determine directly what other foods, medications, supplements, existing medical conditions, sexual activities or environmental factors may have directly affected the drop in sperm count.

Generations of Asians have regularly consumed soyfoods without fertility disorders, and Asian countries have prodigiously produced very healthy, highly functioning children for centuries.

According to an article in the New Scientist, "Chavarro admits that many East Asian men consume much more soya than the participants in his trial and do not develop fertility problems. He speculates that his study found a link between soya and low sperm count because many of the participants were overweight or obese. Men with high levels of body fat produce more oestrogen than their slim counterparts."

Some researchers have gone on the record stating that Chavarro's study conflicts with the large body of U.S. government and National Institute of Health-sponsored human and primate research projects, in which controlled amounts of isoflavones from soy were fed and no effect on quantity, quality or motility of sperm were observed.

Dr. Stephen Barnes, a pharmacologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham supports colleagues in their findings that disagree with the notion of a negative soy-fertility link, "This study is the first to find this correlation. The research on soy in men has not found a negative impact on male hormones but rather has suggested a preventive effect in prostate cancer."


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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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