by Dr. Mercola

A study has linked soy formula given to babies with uterine fibroids in adults. Uterine fibroids are tumors of the uterus that can cause pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, and fertility problems. Uterine fibroids are the leading cause of hysterectomy.

Twenty thousand women participated in the study. They were asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, and were also asked about a variety or early childhood exposures including whether they had been fed soy formula.

According to Baby Gooroo:

“Women who were fed soy formula as babies were 25 percent more likely to develop uterine fibroids … The link between uterine fibroids and soy formula is thought to be a response to the isoflavones (naturally occurring estrogen-like substances) in soy, and in particular, the high exposure at an early age in women given soy formula during infancy.”

Baby Gooroo February 4, 2010

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Soy formula sits on the same shelf next to formula made from cow’s milk, and well-intentioned mothers have listened to doctors who told them that soy formula is an ideal alternative for colicky babies or those who are unable to tolerate milk based formulas.

However, according to a report done by Claire McCarthy of Harvard Medical School, very few babies benefit from soy formula, and I’m going to go one step further than that: soy formula is the absolute most dangerous food you can give your baby.

Let me explain why you should never feed your infant soy formula, what your alternative options are, and the best remedies for colic and diarrhea.

This article will also explain why most commonly-consumed soy products are anything but a health food for parents as well.

Birth Control Pills in a Bottle

In a recent article, I expose the truth about soy foods and the negative effect they are having on you and your family’s health. If your baby drinks soy formula, he or she is at risk for serious health problems.

It is estimated that infants fed soy formula have 13,000 to 22,000 times the amount of estrogen in their little bodies than infants fed other types of formula or who are breast fed.

In fact, infants fed soy formula take in an estimated three to five birth control pills’ worth of estrogen every day, depending upon the particular batch of formula and whether your baby is a big eater.

What does this mean?

Let’s take a look at the risks associated with this astronomical amount of hormone in your child’s developing body. Infants fed soy formula have an increased risk of:

  • Food allergies and digestive distress
  • Behavioral problems
  • Asthma
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Early puberty and fertility problems (including anovulatory cycles; the inability to menstruate)
  • Cancer — It’s also important for pregnant women to avoid eating non-fermented soy, as a high estrogenic environment in utero may increase their child’s subsequent breast cancer risk. Boys could increase their prostate cancer and testicular cancer risk.  Vegan moms who use soy as both milk and meat replacements AND are trying to take in more protein are at very high risk.

As you can see, the health risks far outweigh any “benefits” soy formula promises.

Now, we can also add fibroid tumors in adulthood to this list.

Though uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors found in the muscles of your uterus, they can cause chronic pelvic pain, heavy vaginal bleeding, painful intercourse and fertility problems. It is estimated that one quarter of women develop fibroid tumors and they are the leading reason for hysterectomy (removal of the uterus).

A recent study followed 20,000 white women between the ages of 35 and 59. Women were asked if they’d ever been diagnosed with uterine fibroids and their age of diagnosis. They were then asked if they’d been fed soy formula.

They found that women who were fed soy formula as infants were 25 percent more likely to develop uterine fibroids than women who were  exclusively fed breast- or cow’s milk.

Uterine fibroids seem to be the body’s response to the isoflavones (estrogen-like substances) in soy infant formula and the early age at which the woman was exposed to these substances.

Dangers to the Developing Brain

Infants being fed soy formula are at increased risk for developing behavioral problems because soy contains phytates, which block the absorption of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, all which are crucial to the proper brain and emotional development of infants.

The most common health concern stemming from phytates however, is that they can cause poor bone development.

Soy infant formula also contains another dangerous element, manganese. Though an essential nutrient found in soil and ground water, manganese becomes highly toxic when consumed in excess.

As this previous article explains, manganese can adversely affect your child’s intelligence if consumed during the stage of early brain development. (This makes it a health issue specific to soy formula, not necessarily to other soy foods or soy milk.)

Research shows that soybeans absorb manganese in soil and concentrate it, making the levels of manganese found in soy infant formula up to 200 times that of the levels found in breast milk.

A condition called, “manganese madness” occurs when those in an industrial setting, namely welders, come in contact with high levels of manganese in an area not well-ventilated. Symptoms of this syndrome include aggressive behavior, severe agitation and insomnia. If your child received this dangerous dose of manganese in their baby bottle during the first few months of life, it could account for any behavioral problems he or she is experiencing now.

According to a scientific research study, those living close to manganese mines in Mexico have also shown loss of some motor control.

Some researchers even postulate that manganese may contribute to neurological problems like autism. According to an independent study done by Dr. Lawrence Wilson, MD, a three-year-old boy named Joey diagnosed with autism was found to have a severely elevated manganese level of 0.123mg percent (normal is 0.04).

Autism and autistic-like syndromes have been climbing steadily with since the early 1990s with the increased rate of required childhood immunizations containing dangerous levels of thimerosal.

Combine this startling statistic with soy infant formula mixed in water contaminated with fluoride and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

GM Soy – Danger to Both Mother and Child

One of the worst facts about soy is that 90-95 percent of it is genetically modified (GM).

So what are the dangers of genetically modified soy?

There are plenty. While even organic soy can cause a host of serious health complications, genetically modified soy only makes things worse.

Since the introduction of GM foods in 1996, we’ve had an upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems in the U.S. population, and animal studies thus far have shown devastating effects from consuming GM soy.

Genetically modified or GM seeds are designed to be “Roundup Ready”. In other words, GM seeds planted in the ground have been engineered to withstand high doses of pesticide without killing the plant.

The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate, which, in addition to the soy itself, can also disrupt the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle. So truly, you have a triple whammy: the soy itself, the genetic modification, and the increased pesticide load.

If you consumed soy during your pregnancy, the damage to your child may begin in the womb.

Glyphosate is toxic to the placenta, which is responsible for delivering vital nutrients from you to your child, and eliminating waste products. If your placenta is damaged, it could result in miscarriage or serious birth defects.

Women who consume genetically modified soy products are also at increased risk for developing retrograde menstruation (the menstrual cycle backs up into the body instead of outward), causing endometriosis, which can lead to infertility.

So, if you are pregnant, stop consuming unfermented soy products immediately!

GM Soy May Cause Sterility in Future Generations

In this interview with Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestseller Seeds of Deception, and Genetic Roulette, he addresses growing concerns about the highly bizzarre physiological side effects of GM soy.

Hamsters studied during a two-year period were divided into two groups. One group was fed a normal diet, the second non-GM soy, the third GM soy, and the fourth a higher amount of GM soy than the third.

The results were disturbing.

Using the same genetically modified (GM) soy that is produced on over 90 percent of the soy acreage in the US, the hamsters and their offspring were fed their respective diets over a period of two years, during which time the researchers evaluated three generations of hamsters.

First they took five pairs of hamsters from each group, each of which produced about seven to eight litters each, totaling about 140 animals.

At first all went well, but serious problems became apparent when they selected new pairs from the offspring.

The first problem was that this second generation had a slower growth rate and reached their sexual maturity later than normal.

However, this second generation eventually generated another 39 litters:

  • The no-soy control group had 52 pups
  • The non-GM soy had 78
  • The GM soy had only 40, of which 25 percent died

So these second-generation GM soy-fed hamsters had a five-fold higher infant mortality rate, compared to the 5 percent normal death rate that was happening in the controls.

But then an even bigger problem became apparent, because nearly all of the third generation hamsters lost the ability to have babies altogether.

Only a single third-generation female hamster gave birth to 16 pups, and of those, one fifth died.

In short, nearly the entire third generation of GM soy eaters were sterile!

Growing Up Too Fast – Soy Can Lead to Precocious Puberty

The age of puberty has been decreasing over the last thirty years just as the use of soy infant formula has been increasing. I don’t believe this is a coincidence.

How might feeding your infant soy formula be responsible for your child starting puberty as early as age seven?    .

According to one study, young female hamsters fed the soy isoflavone, genistein showed physical signs of sexual maturity and interest in mating much more quickly than female hamsters who matured naturally.

Soy isoflavones mimic estrogen so effectively that they are able to bind to estrogen receptors in your child’s body and “turn on” the physical and emotional characteristics of puberty. (Soy is not the only factor causing preconscious puberty however.  Other environmental estrogens play a role too, such as BPA, pesticides, supermarket meats, tap water with estrogen from birth control pills, and more.)

According to researchers, girls who go through puberty early in life are at increased risk of developing breast and uterine cancer as well as suffer eating disorders, poor self-esteem, depression and increased likelihood of substance abuse.

In short, their bodies are developing way before their mind and emotions have a chance to catch up, and this can spell disaster for your child.

Breast is Best

Breastfeeding is the least expensive and most effective way to ensure the health of your child. Breastfed children have been shown to have a lowered risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and have a healthier immune system.

The effects of breastfeeding your child for the first six months of life carry on well into adulthood. Adults who were breastfed as children experience:

Breastfeeding is also a built-in birth control designed by nature when food and resources were scarce. The ability of the mother to focus her attention and nutrition on one growing infant at a time boosted the survival rate of the child, prevented nutrition depletion of the mother and reduced sibling competition for food during the critical first months of life.

Quieting Your Colicky Baby

There is nothing more distressing to parents both new and experienced than the constant crying of a colicky infant. If you are one of those parents who is up with your screaming infant at all hours of the night and are exhausted from sleep deprivation and at a loss for what to do, you are certainly not alone in your struggle. It is estimated that colic affects one quarter of all newborns during the first three months of life.

Fortunately, there is hope.

Contrary to what you might believe, breast-fed children do develop colic and it is usually in relation to what the mother is eating. As this previous article states, quieting your colicky infant may be as simple as removing a food your child is sensitive to from your own diet.

Common culprits are wheat and milk. Eliminating these foods from your diet for the duration of the time you are breastfeeding frequently eliminates the colic.

Infants must also be given sufficient time to digest and absorb nutrients from their food. Therefore, feeding times work best when spaced out every three hours. Those parents who go against the common feed/sleep cycle find their babies are better able to sleep through the night and suffer less digestive distress.

Those of you who are feeding your colicky infant a commercial formula would do best to switch to a homemade whole food product for reduction of symptoms.

Babies Need Probiotics Too

Good gut health is essential to good overall health and friendly bacteria called probiotics may be just the answer you and your colicky infant are looking for.

In a recent study, 83 infants were given either a probiotic or the pharmaceutical simethicone (medication commonly used for colic, also called Mylanta) for a period of one month. A daily dose of 108 colony-forming units (CFU) of L. reuteri was given to the infants in the probiotic group thirty minutes after eating, and breastfeeding mothers were asked to follow a diet free of cow’s milk.

After the test period was over, mothers of infants given the probiotic reported that infant crying was reduced to 51 minutes per day as opposed to the control group taking the simethicone, whose crying was only reduced to 145 minutes per day.

According to a study published by the British Medical Journal, a probiotic supplement can also reduce incidents of infant diarrhea.

Most Soy Unhealthy for Adults Too

Soy is anything but a health food. Not only is soy infant formula a terrible food choice for your growing infant, it can have adverse affects on your health as well. Unfermented soy contains goitrogens, substances that suppress thyroid function. When the thyroid is suppressed, a host of health problems result, namely:

  • Digestive problems
  • Food allergies
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Anxiety and mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty conceiving children

and so much more.

The health problems mentioned above are only a handful of the side effects caused by the consumption of unfermented soy products. In addition to suppressing your thyroid, the phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) in soy have been linked to breast cancer, kidney stones and brain damage. Soy also contains phytates, which prevent the absorption of minerals in your body and create a deficiency.

To learn more, read “The Truth About Soy Foods“.

The Only Healthful Soy

The claim that soy products can prevent osteoporosis, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia and protect you from cancer of the prostate, lung and liver is actually true but only if the soy is fermented.

Why is that?

The process of fermenting soy destroys the dangerous substances mentioned above and makes it fit for consumption.

Fermented soy products are a rich source of vitamin K2, a vitamin that works in harmony with vitamin D to keep you healthy. Vitamin K regulates your body’s blood clotting ability and vitamin D is essential for optimal bone health.

Examples of healthy fermented soy products include:

  • Tempeh a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
  • Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
  • Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
  • Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes. But be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.  Look for raw, unpasteurized soy sauce.  Most health food store brands are pasteurized.

For those of you who enjoy tofu, I’m sorry to say it didn’t make this list because tofu is an unfermented soy product.

For more information on the truth about soy, I recommend reading a book by Dr. Kaayla Daniel, entitled The Whole Soy Story. In it, Dr. Daniel describes the dark side of America’s favorite health food and how you as a health-concious consumer have been cleverly targeted and led down the wrong path.

I understand what your health and the health of your children means to you. That’s why I encourage you to continue your own research into soy, soy formula, breastfeeding and natural health. When you’re armed with knowledge, you can no longer be misled and you can take control of your health!

Copyright Dr. Joseph Mercola, 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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