The Risk-Monger

The Risk-Monger recently went through a series of blood tests and the results showed he was suffering from a high exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. The source of this exposure appears to be his vegetarian lifestyle.

One of the greatest achievements of fact manipulation in the both the 20th and 21st centuries is the abuse of the evidence surrounding possible endocrine disrupting chemicals (the famous gender bender mystery). Endocrine disruptors are chemicals (natural or synthetic) that affect how the endocrine system (a set of glands, hormones and cells) functions. Twenty years ago we were told with evident activist certainty that exposure to synthetic chemicals and pesticides would lead to mass sterility, the rise of a new, androgynous sexual category and a declining sperm count that would leave us with, sorry for the hyperbole: the extinction of the entire human race. The frog population was being wiped out, so too the bees and the humans were soon to follow as rising infertility rates would result in a reproductive Armageddon willed on humanity by evil chemical companies. None of these excited scenarios came to pass, but still campaigners keep playing the endocrine disruption card, whether it is demanding precaution to some low dose chemical exposure, banning the use of plastics containing phthalates or BPA (or anything, let’s face it, we all hate plastics) or the use of any pesticides. Environmental NGO activists know the hard rule that if you want to win a campaign, all you need to do is come between a male regulator and his balls (assuming he had any).

There have been some interesting theories about how exposure to very low doses of certain chemicals (which activist researchers proved by giving very high doses to very small, fetal mice) can disrupt the endocrine system, but most experiments have been discredited or deemed non-replicable in realistic situations. But like the “I don’t beat my wife” denial complex, 100 bad research endeavours only adds further to the suggestion that there must be something there (and, of course, more funding for further research). There is indeed ample evidence that certain chemicals have potential endocrine disruption properties. The problem for environmental activists who have been using the “Sword of Endocrine” to beat their enemies is that these chemicals are entirely natural and widely consumed … BY VEGETARIANS!

Soybeans (and other legumes like chick peas) have far higher endocrine disrupting properties than any potential risks found in synthetic chemicals. Soy contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones which is a known (not believed to be, but known) endocrine disruptor.

This is interesting given that many environmental activists are strict vegans sticking to an organic lifestyle and unwittingly consuming far greater volumes of endocrine disrupting chemicals in their choice of soy products for their dietary protein. When the Risk-Monger, facing a strange vascular disease, decided earlier this year to go vegetarian, he was aware of the risks and benefits of soy as a protein replacement. Tests recently showed a sharp increase in cortisol in his blood, an indication of his endocrine system possibly being influenced by his soy-centred diet. More tests are forthcoming, but evidence suggests that the endocrine disrupting properties in soy are at work.

Why should we be worried about soy? Approximately 25% of US bottle-fed infants are consuming soy at extremely high doses for their body weight and age. Should we really be so concerned about potential endocrine disruptors from trace levels of BPA exposure from plastic bottles given that babies are mainlining on isoflavones in their soy milk? It is estimated that an infant receiving exclusively soy formula would be consuming the equivalent of five birth control pills per day (Irvine et al: The Potential Adverse Effects of Soybean Phytoestrogens in Infant Feeding, New Zealand Medical Journal, 1995 May 24:318). A 2001 University of Illinois study shows that the estrogen levels in soy are sufficient to stimulate breast cancer cells in mice. According to the Guardian, soy is in 60% of all UK processed food. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that soy formula fed to infants could contribute to the early onset of puberty.

But Risk-Monger, this must be complete nonsense! Soy is natural, it is good for us and vegans swear by it. We are told, again and again that endocrine disruption, early onset of puberty, rise in breast cancer and diminished fertility rates are all caused by synthetic chemicals (those nasty plastics and pesticides), and that we must take precaution immediately and ban these terrible things! We have said it so many times that it must be true. You must be paid by the chemical industry to spread such terrible lies about a vegetable!!!

Yes, there is that charming and tired “Lobbyist!” argument again: factless and fickle-free. Indeed, this distortion of facts by activists who clearly know this information about soy, but choose to ignore it to continue their non-scientific campaigns against plastics and pesticides, is what I refer to as endocrine corruption.

A recent article in the journal, Pediatrics, by “non-lobbyists” should be quoted:

Of the many heat-stable factors present in soy formulas, the phytoestrogens are of particular interest in human health. Phytoestrogens consist of several groups of nonsteroidal estrogens, including isoflavones. Isoflavones are commonly found in legumes, with the highest amount found in soybeans. Concerns raised in relation to phytoestrogens/isoflavones include their potential negative effects on sexual development and reproduction, neurobehavioral development, immune function, and thyroid function.

So why don’t we play the risk-relative soy card and bring these arguments into the “possible endocrine disruptors” in pesticides debate, especially when European environmental activists are presently licking their chops at the opportunity of using the precautionary principle to ban most existing pesticides for potential endocrine disruption properties (at trace levels) and threaten to force European food production levels back to the 18th century (except of course for soybeans … as they are mostly genetically modified in any case … what a delightful irony)? Surely the pesticide producers can highlight the much higher endocrine exposure levels of soy and put an end to this regulatory silliness that threatens our food security levels.

Well … no … sadly, the industry won’t do that. It seems that many of the crop protection producers also are involved in the seed technology business, and would not be interested in giving soy a black eye to save their pesticide sales. Once the inevitable precautionary bans take effect, food prices will go up and that will compensate for any lost sales. Score an easy win for the silly alarmists and a major loss for affordable, safe food supply and those wishing to reduce famine. This is soy’s dirty little secret: facts on endocrine disruption are allowed to grow lonely as no one is motivated to communicate them or put other risks (like plastics or pesticides) into context.

As for the Risk-Monger, he already has three children (and a tired wife), so reducing his hormone levels with soy as a protein replacement is not a very big problem (but as he would someday want grandchildren, he refuses to feed this reproductive poison to his kids). As for the activist vegans wishing to ban all chemicals and force famine on large populations to confirm their purist intentions? Well, I can only urge them to keep eating their soy. Their inability to procreate will be a benefit to future generations.


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  1. “As for the Risk-Monger, he already has three children (and a tired wife), so reducing his hormone levels with soy as a protein replacement is not a very big problem.”

    Not a big problem if he doesn’t mind becoming hypothyroid and adrenally fatigued.

    1. Good point Gregory. I was focusing on my reduced fertility and elevated risk of breast cancer (although it does increasingly strike men as well). My wife is accepting any lowering of adrenaline with relief! As for hypothyroidism and other health risks from soy, maybe I should be mad as hell and not just amused by the hypocrisy.

  2. Hi, I see what you are saying. But really the problem is not soy, its the quantities and the form in which soy is consumed. First of all, anything, even water in excess is bad for you. Therefore there is no point coming off animal products and consuming just one vegetarian replacement – in excess. What is needed is a balanced wide ranging diet. My family – including husband and 2 adult sons have been vegetarian all our lives – with NO ill effects, thank God. But the key is that we consume coconut, oats, almonds and other nuts, flax, hemp, mung … the list is endless, AND soy. Whether one eats meat or fish or not is a personal choice – far be it for me to preach, but, the only real route to health and environmental sustainability is lots and lots of varied vegetarian foods – not an over reliance on one. Secondly, any food, vegetarian or animal must be as natural and unprocessed as possible for optimum health benefits. Therefore fresh green soy beans will have benefits that processed soy foods will not. The proof is the Japanese who consume huge amounts of soy and have no greater incidence of endocrine or other imbalances. Hope this is helpful.

    1. Indeed Aine, all in moderation is a well-tested basis for good health and well-being. I will continue to have soy in my diet with other sources of protein. Only feeding infants soy formula though is insane and we need to pay attention to the high endocrine disrupting chemicals we are exposing our children to with such actions. That we ignore that and concentrate our attention on endocrine issues from chemicals and pesticides (which have fractional exposure levels, if any) is just political activism and in no way scientific. The main other ridiculous element is that industry has chosen to give soy a free pass.

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