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Soy and Prostate

Learn about yet another benefit to eating soy, on this Moment of Science.

It turns out that there is yet another benefit to consuming soy, and this benefit is for men specifically. When digested, soy creates a molecule called equol, which blocks the male hormone dihydrotestosterone, otherwise known as DHT.

Testosterone does serve important functions, but DHT is not so desirable, considering its involvement in prostate cancer. The pharmaceutical industry has focused a lot of energy into developing drugs that do what soy does naturally. Except the problem is that the drugs created to fight prostate cancer don’t just affect DHT, but they affect testosterone too.

These drugs inhibit testosterone from converting into DHT. In doing so, they not only reduce the harmful effects of male hormones, but they reduce the beneficial effects of these hormones too.

Common side effects of these drugs include reduced libido, impotence, decrease in muscle strength, and an increased risk of osteoporosis. What’s so promising about soy is that it doesn’t prevent the conversion of testosterone into DHT, but instead blocks DHT from functioning once it’s made.

The result is that soy prevents DHT from doing its damage without blocking the beneficial effects of male hormones. Scientists think that because of its effects on DHT, soy may prove beneficial in treating other conditions associated with DHT, such as male pattern baldness.

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