Saturday, December 08, 2007
GERMAN CONSUMER WATCHDOG ORGANIZATION WARNS CITIZENS ABOUT THE DANGERS OF SOY INFANT FORMULA AND SOY ISOFLAVONE SUPPLEMENTS
Washington, DC: -- December 6, 2007 -- The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin, Germany, warned parents and pediatricians last month that babies should not be given soy infant formula without clear, concrete medical reasons and then only under strict medical supervision.
This week the agency issued a second warning to adult consumers, stating that soy isoflavones offer no proven health benefits and may pose health risks.
?Soy is not a health food,? said Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food. ?Soybeans contain plant estrogens known as isoflavones that can cause significant endocrine disruption. Infants on soy formula are at high risk because isoflavones are estrogenic and can disrupt the development of the growing baby's body and brain. Adults self-medicating with soy foods and/or supplements are another high risk group. ?
Dr. Daniel noted that ?Many midlife women over consume soy because of the widespread marketing of soy as a safe and natural way to ease menopausal symptoms. Sadly, soy is neither safe nor natural. There are risks for men and women of every age. Hundreds of studies link soy to digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, reproductive disorders, ADD/ADHD, allergies, and even increased breast cancer risk. ?
Professor Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), explains that the main concern for infants is that soybeans naturally contain high levels of estrogenic compounds known as isoflavones, which are similar in chemical structure to human estrogen and can act like hormones in the body. Compared to breastfed or dairy formula-fed babies, babies on soy formula show very high concentrations of isoflavones in their blood.
?Soy formula fed babies are overly estrogenized babies,? explained Dr. Daniel. ?This can lead to tragic consequences such as premature puberty in girls and delayed or arrested puberty in boys.?
Soy infant formula has also contributed to the dramatic increase in soy allergies over the past few decades. ?Soy allergies used to be rare, but soy is now widely regarded as one of the top eight allergens and some experts predict it will soon be in the top four,? Dr. Daniel says. ?The soy infant formula industry has long marketed its products as a hypoallergenic alternative to dairy, but soy itself often triggers allergic reactions and also contributes to asthma, eczema and other disorders. ?
According to the German Federal Institute of Risk Assessment, milk allergies are not an acceptable reason for pediatricians to recommend soy formula, Dr. Hensel cited several possible medical reasons for giving soy formula to infants, including ?cases of congenital, hereditary lactase deficiency and the equally rare metabolic disease galactosaemia. Lactose intolerance - whether genetic or because of a temporary gastro-intestinal disorder - is not generally a reason to choose soy formula.?
Dr. Hensel also expressed concern that soy infant formula contains phytate, a natural plant component that can adversely affect the infant's intake of minerals and trace elements. Phytates have been linked to rickets and poor bone development in babies and children, and to osteoporosis in adults.
In the warning issued December 6, the Institute of Risk Assessment expressed concerns about the marketing of soy foods and isoflavone supplements to menopausal women and doubts about the ? claimed advantages of the supplements for heart, bone and breast health.? The Institute found that ?the assumed positive effects of isolated isoflavones on menopausal complaints have not been sufficiently substantiated and that numerous adverse effects have been noted. . . When administered at high doses in isolated or fortified form, isoflavones impair the functioning of the thyroid gland and can change mammary gland tissue.?
Re breast cancer, the Institute concluded that ?it can not be ruled out that the estrogen like effects of isoflavones could promote the development of breast cancer. The necessary long term studies to prove the safety of isoflavone containing products are not available. Nor is it currently possible to reliably establish a dose which could be considered safe.?
?The Germans have clearly warned about the dangers of soy isoflavone supplements,? said Dr. Daniel. ?But it's also important to make clear that soy milk and many other soy foods contain high levels of isoflavones. For example, a single glass of soy milk per day contains a higher level of isoflavones that caused thyroid damage in healthy Japanese men and women in just three months as shown in a study by thyroid specialists at the Ishizuki Clinic in Japan.?
The two warnings by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment's follow advisories issued by the Israeli Health Ministry and the French Food Agency.
In 2005, the Israeli Health Ministry warned that babies should not receive soy formula, children to age 18 should not drink soy milk or eat soy foods more than once per day to a maximum of three times per week and adults should exercise caution because of adverse effects on fertility and increased breast cancer risk.
In 2006, the French Food Agency announced tough new regulations that will require manufacturers to improve the safety of soy infant formula and to put warning labels on packages of soy foods and soy milk. According to Mariette Gerber, MD, PhD, Professor at the Center of Cancer Research in Montpelier, the new regulations will require a drastic decrease in the isoflavone content allowed in soy formula ?to get it as low as possible, to one part per million.? Food labels must warn of ?special risks? to children below three years of age, children treated for thyroid disease and women who've been diagnosed with or have a family history of breast cancer.
The United Kingdom's Chief Medical Officer and the British Dietetic Association has also warned pediatricians and parents to use soy formula only as a last resort. And the UK's Committee on Toxicity has cited vegetarians who use regularly use soy foods as being at special risk for thyroid damage.
?The Israelis, French, British and now the Germans have looked at the evidence and have warned their citizens that soy formula poses a very real danger to babies and soy isoflavones to adults,? says Dr. Daniel. ?I am impressed with how seriously the Germans have taken their mission as a consumer watchdog organization. It's time that our FDA and other US government agencies did likewise.?
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Kathleen M. Campbell
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Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, is THE WHOLE NUTRITIONIST®. She earned her PhD in Nutritional Sciences and Anti-Aging Therapies from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, is board certified as a clinical nutritionist (CCN) by the International and American Association of Clinical Nutritionists in Dallas and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Weston A. Price Foundation. As a clinical nutritionist, she specializes in digestive disorders, women?s reproductive health issues, infertility, and recovery from vegetarian and soy-based diets.
Dr. Daniel is the author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America?s Favorite Health Food (New Trends, March 2005), which has been endorsed by leading health professionals, including Kilmer McCully MD, Doris J. Rapp MD, Jonathan V. Wright, MD, Russell Blaylock, MD, Larrian Gillespie, MD, Joseph Mercola, OD, Debra Lynn Dadd and Larry Dossey, MD, who called it ?science writing at its best.?
Comfortable in front of radio, television and live audiences, Dr. Daniel has been ?media trained? by Joel Roberts, formerly co-host of KABC, Los Angeles' most highly rated talk radio program, who calls her a ?class A entertainer? and a ?naughty nutritionist? with the ability to outrageously and humorously debunk nutritional myths.?
Dr. Daniel has been extensively quoted in major newspapers and magazines, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, Glamour, Utne Reader and Alternative Medicine, and has appeared as a guest on NPR's People's Pharmacy, the Discovery Channel's Medical Hotseat and ABC's View from the Bay. Online her book has been featured prominently on http://www.mercola.com/
, the world?s leading natural health and dietary website. She has also appeared as an expert witness before the California Public Safety Committee and the National Institute for Environmental Health Science.
Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Press and Public Relations Office, Thielallee 88-92, 14195 Berlin, Fax: +49-30-8412-4970, E-Mail: email@example.com
The Weston A. Price Foundation