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These questions and answers are a sample of what you will find in Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center Ask the Doctor Forum. Access to this forum requires membership. All Members can search the entire archive of questions and answers. In addition, Platinum and higher members have access to ask Dr. Fuhrman and his Medical Associates their own questions.

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Is it true that men shouldn’t eat soy? I’ve heard that the phytoestrogens in soy can lower testosterone and sperm count.

No, this is not true. Soy foods contain isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens (plant estrogens). Years ago, there were concerns that these plant estrogens could potentially promote hormonal cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers; however, research has revealed that those fears were unfounded. Unprocessed and minimally processed soy — foods like edamame, tempeh and tofu — are healthful foods, associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer.1 In addition, several human studies on soy foods, soy protein or soy isoflavone supplements have collectively concluded that soy has no effects on testosterone levels, estrogen levels, or sperm parameters in men.2,3 The science shows that soy foods do not have feminizing effects on men, so feel free to enjoy these foods. A healthful diet contains many different beans to maximize phytochemical variety: black beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc., plus soybeans in the form of edamame, tofu and tempeh.

1. Hwang YW, Kim SY, Jee SH, et al: Soy food consumption and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutr Cancer 2009;61:598-606.
2. Hamilton-Reeves JM, Vazquez G, Duval SJ, et al: Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Fertil Steril 2010;94:997-1007.
3. Messina M: Soybean isoflavone exposure does not have feminizing effects on men: a critical examination of the clinical evidence. Fertil Steril 2010;93:2095-2104.

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