From Thursdays News
Tue, 8 Jul 1997 18:15:45 -0400 (EDT)
Release at 7 p.m., EST, Thursday, July 3)
LONDON (Reuter) - Babies fed soymilk are taking in large
amounts of hormone-like chemicals known as phytoestrogens whose
biological effect is relatively unknown, U.S. research
scientists reported Thursday.
Kenneth Setchell and colleagues at Children's Hospital
Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, found babies fed formula
containing soymilk were exposed to doses of the chemicals that
were up to 11 times more than most adults.
This translated to levels up to 22,000 times higher than
normal in seven babies whose blood was tested, they wrote in a
report in the Lancet medical journal.
They analyzed the amount of phytoestrogens in five
commercially available brands of soymilk-based formula and then
estimated how much that would mean for a baby each day.
They also took blood samples from four-month-old babies
given either only cow's milk, breast milk or soymilk formula.
``The total daily intake of isoflavones (phytoestrogens)
derived from soy-based infant formula is thus comparable to that
of adults consuming modest amounts of soy protein foods, and
also of Japanese adults consuming a traditional diet,'' theywrote.
Such levels ``must have some biological activity in the
infant,'' they wrote. But it was unclear what activity this might
Environmental estrogens have been shown, in enormous doses,
to affect the sexual and reproductive functions of animals. But
phytoestrogens, especially those in soy products, are linked to
lower incidences of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses
with hormonal components.
A diet high in soy foods and low in animal fat is believed
to be one reason cancer and heart disease are rarer in China and
Japan than in the West.
``Although soy infant formula is little used in Japan and
China, infants there are exposed to soyfoods early in childhood,
so it is perhaps the lifetime exposure to soy foods that confers
these health benefits,'' Setchell's group wrote.
They said more study was needed into the effects of soyfoods