Monday, March 17, 2008

Soy Milk's Diverse (And Strange) Critics

Silk is running a major TV ad campaign promoting its soy milk products. I have never drunk soy milk. I almost did so once, but I couldn't get past the awful smell of the stuff.

Over the past year or two, I have noticed more and more critics of soy milk. These critics range from the more reasoned (at least, from my initial observation) to those who belong on the front page of The Onion.

A few years ago, Mothering magazine published this article raising concerns about the health effects of soy products, including allergies and even certain types of cancer. WorldNetDaily, a religious conservative website, posted this 2006 column by James Rutz actually claiming that soy consumption has a "feminizing" effect that will turn children gay.

There are three problems with Rutz's wild assertion.

First, weren't these the same people who warned us that the TV character Tinky Winky was gay? Second, columnist Rutz doesn't seem to have any scientific expertise in the area of nutrition or public health, and I'm not inclined to get my health-medical information from the chairman of Megashift Ministries. Third, various studies show that gay and heterosexual men have similar testosterone levels — a fact that seems to undercut Rutz's argument that testosterone is "suppressed" by the natural estrogens in soy milk.

I doubt I will ever be a soy milk drinker, but, if you like the taste, go right ahead. There may be some sound public health reasons for limiting your level of soy consumption, but I don't consider the ridiculous soy-turns-you-gay argument to be one of them.

Given my own sexual orientation, perhaps I should inform others what drinking cow's milk can do to a lad.

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