OK, flame away – I know that there are two sides to this argument, but this one was just so funny that I had to post it.
There is a growing feeling that low T is a 21st century epidemic in the developed world. One lab that does hormone level testing (ZRT Lab) released an article (PDF warning) stating that testosterone levels are now 15-20% lower than they were 15 years ago. One example study that they give (from Scandinavian researchers) showed that a man born in 1970 had about 20% less testosterone than a man of his father’s generation.
So, what’s causing this? Well, there are lots of theories (some genuinely interesting, some just plain dumb) – but fasten on your tin foil hat as I present this week’s ‘crazy low t conspiracy theory of the week‘.
You may have heard the theory that too much soy in your diet contributes to low testosterone levels. The research on this is mixed (google it), but one recent article in the journal ‘Endocrine Practice’ was a classic.
In a nutshell, some guy drank 3 quarts of soy milk a day and grew breasts.
I have to stress that this is not from the National Enquirer – this is from a respected Endocrinology journal – the full article is available on Medscape (registration required). A summary of the article is below.
Hold on to your hats – here comes the science!
From the article:
Objective: To document a case of gynecomastia related to ingestion of soy products and review the literature.
Methods: We present the clinical course of a man with gynecomastia in relation to ingestion of 2 different soy products and review related literature.
Results: A 60-year-old man was referred to the endocrinology clinic for evaluation of bilateral gynecomastia of 6 months’ duration. He reported erectile dysfunction and decreased libido. On further review of systems, he reported no changes in testicular size, no history of testicular trauma, no sexually transmitted diseases, no headaches, no visual changes, and no change in muscular mass or strength. Initial laboratory assessment showed estrone and estradiol concentrations to be 4-fold increased above the upper limit of the reference range. Subsequent findings from testicular ultrasonography; computed tomography of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis; and positron emission tomography were normal. Because of the normal findings from the imaging evaluation, the patient was interviewed again, and he described a daily intake of 3 quarts of soy milk. After he discontinued drinking soy milk, his breast tenderness resolved and his estradiol concentration slowly returned to normal.
Conclusions: This is a very unusual case of gynecomastia related to ingestion of soy products. Health care providers should thoroughly review patients’ dietary habits to possibly reveal the etiology of medical conditions.