- The natural chemicals that exist in soy are a danger especially for men.
- Soya contains phytoestrogens, which diminishes the speed at which sperm cells reproduce.
Soya, derived from beans native to East Asia, is increasingly consumed as an alternative to meat and dairy. Men who eat lots of foods containing soya may be harming their chances of becoming a father, research suggests.
Natural chemicals in soya used to make vegetarian and vegan products such as tofu could damage sperm. Researchers in Spain believe the issue could lie with chemicals called phytoestrogens, which mimic female hormones and are found in soya.
‘Phytoestrogens are dietary components found in plants which helps in the reduction of coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypercholesterolemia, cancer, osteoporosis, as well as the reduction of menopausal symptoms.’
Phytoestrogens reduce the speed of sperm cells, as well as increases the proportion that had an inadequate number of chromosomes. Both can make conception a little more difficult.
Apart from a few drawbacks, Phytoestrogens are actually beneficial in reducing the risk of various diseases including cancer. They are rich in fiber, minerals and possess antioxidant property.
The team initially set out to measure the impact of chemicals called 'endocrine disrupters' such as Bisphenol A, used to make plastic coatings.
The examined the diets of 25 volunteers and tracked them for two years and found that eating soya actually had the biggest effect.
Study author Dr Francisco Dominguez, of the University of Valencia and IVI Fertility, which has clinics in Spain and the UK, said the results could help men having fertility treatment improve their chances of success.
But fertility expert Professor Allan Pacey, of Sheffield University, said, "This is a relatively small study of only 25 men and so I think we should be cautious about what we can conclude from it."