By: Arron Williams
September 14 2022
Soy does not lower testosterone or have a negative impact on men's health. In fact, soy provides potential health benefits.
The claim that soybeans harm men's health and feminize men has been circulating on social media for years. These claims are presented as tips for male health or as cautionary warnings and assert that soy lowers testosterone levels, reduces male sperm count, and causes depression. These risks are allegedly due to phytoestrogens present in soy, which mimic human female estrogen.
These claims have been widely shared on TikTok and Instagram; TikTok user @exposelies has shared a video titled "Don't be a soy boy," which has gained over 11 thousand likes in just one example of the many videos that propagate these claims.
Soy does not have a negative impact on male health and scientific studies actually suggest there are potential health benefits to eating soy. A 2021 scientific study published by Science Direct investigated the claim that soy lowers testosterone and compiled a meta-analysis based on multiple studies. This study states it's true that soy contains phytoestrogen which can bind to estrogen receptors. However, it was found that soy is harmless and does not affect the estrogen or testosterone levels in men.
An article published by the Harvard School of Public Health states that there is uncertainty about the effects soy has on the body but there are benefits to soy such as its rich B vitamin and protein content. The article also states other potential health benefits through consuming soy, such as a lower risk of heart disease, reducing high blood pressure, and even potentially helping to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, although more research is needed in this area.
Similarly, an article published by The Indian Express also refutes these claims, basing its judgement and reasoning on data from scientific research papers referenced in the article. The article uses the evidence from these papers to compile a report on the claims of soy lowering testosterone and 'feminizing' men. The article states that soy does not lower testosreone or negatively effect male health by lowering sperm count with the scientific studies revealing no association between soy and sperm quality.
Both the study published by Science Direct and The Indian Express article also express that the claim of soy "feminizing" men and hormonal changes after soy consumption came from two case reports. Each case report focused on a single man, one on a 60 year old and the other on a 19 year old. In both these cases the men reported feminising effects due to soy consumption. However the soy consumption levels were so high that it was equivalent to nine times the average soy intake of Japanese men and an excessive amount to consume in daily life. While it is true that abnormally large intakes of soy can have an effect on hormones, excessive consumption of most foods is harmful and has a negative on the body. Therefore, it is safe to eat soy, and studies confirm that there is no risk to its consumption unless in abnormal excess.
Another important factor of these claims is that the modern circulation of these claims on social media is often targeted at insecure young men. The claims coincide with other false "health" advice for men, which often aims to push political ideals and negative concepts around the idea of masculinity.
The consumption of soy has no negative impact normally. It does not lower testosterone levels, sperm count, or affect estrogen levels. Soy is healthy to consume and has several potential health benefits. It is only in the case of immense excess that soy could affect hormones in humans, but as with most foods, such excess is harmful. Moderation is an important part of health. There are no negative impacts on men's health, so the claim has been marked as false.