Component in Soy Products Causes Reproductive Problems in Lab Mice
A major component of soy, known as "genistein", has been shown to disrupt the development of ovaries in newborn female lab mice.
Schmalfeldt: A major component of soy, known as "genistein", has been shown to disrupt the development of ovaries in newborn female lab mice. The study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences adds to the growing body of literature demonstrating the potentially adverse consequences of genistein on the reproductive system. Retha Newbold, a developmental endocrinologist at NIEHS and an author of the study, said more research needs to be done to see if what happened to the lab mice can also happen to humans.
Newbold: I definitely would encourage parents to talk to their pediatrician. Some kids may have an allergy to cow's milk and they may not have a choice but to be on soy infant formula. But there are a lot of cases where kids are put on soy infant formula just because the parents think that this is good for their health.
Schmalfeldt: Researchers had previously demonstrated that mice given genistein immediately after birth had irregular menstrual cycles, problems with ovulation, and problems with fertility as they reached adulthood.
Schmalfeldt: We also need additional research in the lab with looking at effects on males. All the data we have so far are looking at females. I don't yet know what the data is for males. You know, do they have similar changes, are they equally affected? I don't know that. We also need to look at effects on other tissues. Mammary glad development. We have some indications in the lab that this is playing a role in obesity. These things are all programmed during development.
Schmalfeldt: You can read more about the study in the January edition of Biology of Reproduction, and online at www.niehs.nih.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Retha Newbold
Topic: Environmental Health