Pharyngula

Satan’s perfect food: Tofu!

What a terrific title: A devil food is turning our kids into homosexuals! It’s from Wingnut Daily, of course, and it’s simply one of their kooks taking a germ of fact and amplifying it into a flaming reactionary whimper of fear. He’s complaining about soy.

Soybeans do contain compounds called isoflavones that resemble and weakly mimic estrogens. I’ve read a few papers that discuss their possible effects on human physiology, and they usually fall into the category of “Hmmm…suggestive, no evidence either way yet, needs more study.” Our wingnut author seems to have a different source than the scientific literature, though, because he makes some rather definitive claims.

Doctors used to hope soy would reduce hot flashes, prevent cancer and heart disease, and save millions in the Third World from starvation. That was before they knew much about long-term soy use. Now we know it’s a classic example of a cure that’s worse than the disease. For example, if your baby gets colic from cow’s milk, do you switch him to soy milk? Don’t even think about it. His phytoestrogen level will jump to 20 times normal. If he is a she, brace yourself for watching her reach menarche as young as seven, robbing her of years of childhood. If he is a boy, it’s far worse: He may not reach puberty till much later than normal.

So, I searched PubMed, and there’s nothing on soy and menarche or menstruation; I found a few articles on soy and puberty, and they say things like “The literature offers no evidence of endocrine effects in humans from infant consumption of modern soy-based formulas” and “To date, no adverse effects of short- or long-term use of soy proteins have been observed in humans and exposure to soy-based infant formulas does not appear to lead to different reproductive outcomes than exposure to cow milk formulas” and “Available evidence from adult human and infant populations indicates that dietary isoflavones in soy infant formulas do not adversely affect human growth, development, or reproduction.” There are many more papers on its putative effects on breast cancer and the symptoms of menopause, and even there it’s a study in ambiguity: some reports of slight positive effects, many more stating that there isn’t a detectable effect.

There doesn’t seem to be any strong evidence that eating tofu will turn your sons into girlie-boys, I’m afraid; there are better grounds to be concerned about known endocrine disruptors like atrazine and PCBs.

Of course, I have failed to take into the synergistic effects of water fluoridation, that commie plot, or the corrupting influence of Big Agriculture on science, that capitalist plot. I am amused at the fact, though, that here in rural Minnesota, where the kids rail against those homosexuals, that one of the most important crops these kids’ parents raise is soybeans. I wonder what the effect of this WND wingnuttery would be on conservative farmers out here? I expect that would trigger a more strongly measurable response than what the soybeans are doing to their gonads.

Ah, but what do I know. The author has impeccable credentials.

James Rutz is chairman of Megashift Ministries and founder-chairman of Open Church Ministries. He is the author of “MEGASHIFT: Igniting Spiritual Power,” and, most recently, “The Meaning of Life.”

See? He’s a gladhanding Jesus-promoter who makes his money founding “ministries” and selling self-help books. You can trust him.


Klein KO (1998) Isoflavones, soy-based infant formulas, and relevance to endocrine function. Nutr Rev 56(7):193-204

Merritt RJ,
Jenks BH (2004) Safety of soy-based infant formulas containing isoflavones: the clinical evidence. J Nutr 134(5):1220S-1224.

Miniello VL,
Moro GE,
Tarantino M,
Natile M,
Granieri L,
Armenio L (2003) Soy-based formulas and phyto-oestrogens: a safety profile. Acta Paediatr Suppl 91(441):93-100.

Comments

  1. #1 Bronze Dog
    December 12, 2006

    Satan’s prefect food? Yeah. Who else would invent the Tofurky?

  2. #2 CCP
    December 12, 2006

    …& Tofutti…(cue Little Richard)

  3. #3 coturnix
    December 12, 2006

    Pam blogged about it this morning as well.

    Perhaps this explains the wingnuts there – they just feel deep inside that their soybean crops are turning them into girlie-men so, in their fear, they overcompenate with excess machismo ;-)

  4. #4 gwangung
    December 12, 2006

    Who traditionally eats lots of tofu? Asian folks.

    Chow Yun Fat and Bruce Lee ain’t no girlie men…

    Just a load of xenophobic, borderline racist blathering….

  5. #5 Ichthyic
    December 12, 2006

    Miso, natto and tempeh are also OK, but avoid tofu.

    bwahahahahaha!

    how on earth could anybody take this guy seriously?

    …and if they do, how do they manage to take themselves seriously?

    It’s like he’s trying to give a “sciency” basis for people who use “tofu eaters” as a slur to begin with.

  6. #6 Julius
    December 12, 2006

    ABSOLUTE LUNACY! Do people really buy into this stuff? I just can’t believe that those wingnuts still have an audience! Soy products “make” you gay? I want to so badly believe that they write this stuff simply to be funny…but they are serious…which is even more funny. It would be nice to just sit back and mock these people…they are giving us plenty of comic relief. But the trouble is they do have an audience, however gullible. Mock these crazy people will every last bit of intelligent wit you have!

  7. #7 mojoey
    December 12, 2006

    Tofu = automatic gag reflex, but hey, whatever rocks your boat, second only the lima bean I might add.

    As long as the homophobic pastor holds a bible in his hands when he looks at the camera as say’s “eat these and you will turn gay”. We should all believe him. Yep, that’s what we should do…

  8. #8 Zehariah
    December 12, 2006

    I like how he also implies that gay people are feminine. Last time I checked, my penis was of adequate size, thank you very much!

  9. #9 Steve LaBonne
    December 12, 2006

    So what this is telling us is that the fundie ministers in Colorado are all tofu-eaters?

  10. #10 George
    December 12, 2006

    Here’s a similar story by a William Wong:

    SOY, HOMOSEXUALITY, AND SEXUAL IDENTITY DISORDER
    “THE DEBATE”


    …In men it permanently reduces testicular function and lowers Lutinizing Hormone production. LH is what signals your testicles to work. This increases the probability of estrogen dominance in men with its hair loss, swollen and cancerous prostates. (4,5). Male children fed soy formulas and soy products may not ever get to like girls. Dorris Rapp MD, the worlds leading pediatric allergist, asserts that environmental and food estrogens are responsible for the increase in male homosexuality and the worldwide reduction in male fertility. (6).
    [...]
    7000 man 30 year epidemiological study done in Hawaii shows soy is connected with a higher rate of Vascular Dementia (Alzheimer’s disease). (15,16).

    Any opinions to contradict the facts noted above have been paid for by the Agribusiness giants Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland. Once public knowledge of their manipulation of public opinion and of the FDA becomes widely known, expect monster class action lawsuits against these folks. They’ll deserve it in spades!

    http://www.senselessplanet.com/soyhomo.htm

  11. #11 CJColucci
    December 12, 2006

    I made a tofu dish on Sunday and haven’t had sex with my wife since. Coincidence?

  12. #12 Steve LaBonne
    December 12, 2006

    How big is William’s wong?

  13. #13 Smartie
    December 12, 2006

    So, let me get this straight, hundreds of major peer-reviewed studies say global warming is real and it’s still considered “unsound junk science” by the wingnuts…but one unnamed study later and suddenly OMG! SOY=TEH GAY!! Amazing.

  14. #14 J Daley
    December 12, 2006

    And when your confounding variable is Satan, you’ve got real problems with your data.

  15. #15 Interrobang
    December 12, 2006

    The saddest and scariest thing about that is his insistence that you shouldn’t switch your kid off cow’s milk if it makes them sick. I know what that’s like, first-hand. I grew up in a household where the folks had really bought into the “Nature’s Perfect Superfood” bullshit, and they forced me to consume dairy products for years after my severe allergies to dairy had manifested. (I get the regular old lactose-intolerance GI symptoms, and a lovely histamine reaction on top.)

    I went through years of hell because of it. Now that soy milk and soy-based dairy substitutes are fairly widely available, putting your kid through the same problems I had, just because you believe something even more whackadoo than the usual public-consumption conventional wisdom about milk, is basically child abuse.

  16. #16 katie t
    December 12, 2006

    I don’t know what WND actually means, but I immediately parsed it as “Weapons of Nad Destruction.”

    Also: in studying the totally feminizing effects of soy on Asians, let’s not forget Kamikaze pilots, well-known for being total wimps.

  17. Who traditionally eats lots of tofu? Asian folks.

    Yes – and just look at their impending extinction from all the girly men turning to each other instead of reproducing…

    I made a tofu dish on Sunday and haven’t had sex with my wife since.

    I last ate tofu about two decades ago, and I haven’t had sex with CJ’s wife since then either. Coincidence?

  18. #18 GH
    December 12, 2006

    Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t homosexual.” No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can’t remember a time when excess estrogen wasn’t influencing them

    The above seems to make him understand that homosexuals aren’t lying when they say they where always gay. Of course how can one then argue they are evil when one understands it was done to them by caring parents.

    Of course this is BS but it seems a contradictory mindset this fellow has.

  19. #19 Ktesibios
    December 12, 2006

    If cow’s milk makes them sick? Heck, when I was an infant I couldn’t even tolerate my own mother’s breast milk. I was on a no dairy products of any kind diet until I was well into grade school.

    If it hadn’t been for soy-based formula I wouldn’t have lived to the age of three months.

    And, as far as I can tell, my maturation and adult sexual functioning were/are utterly unremarkable.

  20. #20 Rhampton
    December 12, 2006

    Are Colorado’s evangelical preachers eating soy?

    Rev. Barnes, ex-church chart future

    Meanwhile, others ponder the broader implications of a second consecutive evangelical pastor toppled by a gay-sex scandal … While evangelicals cannot compromise on their belief that Scripture condemns homosexuality, the movement also has been guilty of being too mean-spirited, said prominent local evangelical leader, Denver Seminary president Craig Williford.

    “We may have talked about the evils of homosexuality in attempts to justify our position and not been as evenhanded or fair in representing the homosexual community as we should have been. At times, we have probably over-generalized the lifestyle and made villains out of people who live in homosexuality.”

  21. #21 Elf Eye
    December 12, 2006

    I find this sentence really interesting: “If he is a she, brace yourself for watching her reach menarche as young as seven, robbing her of years of childhood. If he is a boy, it’s far worse: He may not reach puberty till much later than normal.” Putting aside for a moment the interesting pronoun usage (apparently humans are female by default except in the case of grammar), I wonder how he arrives at the conclusion that a delay in a boy’s reaching puberty is “far worse” than a girl’s experiencing early menarche. Given that a precocious puberty can lead to reduced height because of accelerated bone maturation, wouldn’t precocious puberty for a girl create more of a long-term problem than delayed puberty for a boy?

  22. #22 frank schmidt
    December 12, 2006

    If eating soy turns you into a girlie-man, how come there are so many Chinese? Oh, yeah, that’s right, they’re all descendents of Genghis Khan.

  23. #23 ERV
    December 12, 2006

    Anti-Soy-Woo is pretty big in weight-lifting/bodybuilding, so WND didnt even think this crap up themselves.

    In addition to the lack of peer-reviewed papers that support ‘Tofu=Girlyman’, you just have to Google ‘Vegetarian Bodybuilding’ to laugh at their claims.

  24. #24 Krystalline Apostate
    December 12, 2006

    Wow. I mean, really.
    I wonder if any pro-soy xtians’ll wack him w/the old ‘it is not what goeth into a man’s mouth that defileth him’.
    As I understand it, man is the only animal who ingests dairy products past infancy anyways.
    I try to stay away from dairy products as a rule, because they’re rich in calories, and a phlegm builder.
    Got soy? ;)
    As to the ‘teenie weenie peenie’, I thought steroids are the only(?) chemical that…impacted that. Ow.

    Oh, yeah, that’s right, they’re all descendents of Genghis Khan.

    Ummm…no. They believe they were descended from the Huns.

  25. #25 Krystalline Apostate
    December 12, 2006

    Sorry: meant that the Mongols believed they were descended from the Huns.
    The Chinese predate both.

  26. #26 Steve Watson
    December 12, 2006

    I must say, that’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever read on WND. And that takes some doing.

  27. #27 Joshua
    December 12, 2006

    I made a tofu dish on Sunday and haven’t had sex with my wife since.
    I last ate tofu about two decades ago, and I haven’t had sex with CJ’s wife since then either. Coincidence?

    Oh my Kraken! I’ve been drinking soy milk exclusively for two years now, and I’ve never had sex with CJ’s wife! Maybe there’s something to this!

    Then again… *checks pants* Nah, all’s in order. ;)

  28. #28 Kristine
    December 12, 2006

    Holy crap. For example, if your baby gets colic from cow’s milk, do you switch him to soy milk? Don’t even think about it. And if you’re pregnant and HIV positive, don’t take drugs the suppress the transmission of the virus to your kids. It will kill them. Got that?

    If he is a she. Um, you mean, before the soy?

    brace yourself for watching her reach menarche as young as seven, robbing her of years of childhood. If he is a boy.. If? Now I’m just confused. What if she is a boy? Will soy come to the rescue then? Are we talking haploids or diploids here? Vagina–is it a Disco Clown car?

  29. #29 The Disgruntled Chemist
    December 12, 2006

    Uh oh. I’ve been extracting soybean isoflavones all day. I think I’m going to go get a glovebox and respirator before I keep going, just in case – I don’t want to catch Teh Gay!

    On the other hand, at the end of the day I will apparently have concentrated Oil of Gay, so I can chase fundies around with it and make them do my evil bidding. Sweet.

  30. #30 llewelly
    December 12, 2006

    I find this sentence really interesting: “If he is a she, brace yourself for watching her reach menarche as young as seven, robbing her of years of childhood. If he is a boy, it’s far worse: He may not reach puberty till much later than normal.” Putting aside for a moment the interesting pronoun usage (apparently humans are female by default except in the case of grammar), I wonder how he arrives at the conclusion that a delay in a boy’s reaching puberty is “far worse” than a girl’s experiencing early menarche.

    Female sexuality == Icky and Evil.
    Male sexuality == Righteous and Good.

    That sick thinking is the foundation of much homophobia.

  31. #31 Tim McCormack
    December 12, 2006

    I love arguing with kooks. It is so easy! You just set down a stereo playing an infinite loop of “Yeah, but do you have evidence for that minority opinion?” and walk away.

  32. #32 beepbeepitsme
    December 12, 2006

    If my fading memory serves me correctly, didn’t we fight a huge fight against a whole stack of soy eating “girlie boys” in the mid 1900′s?

    That’s right. Soy products had emasculated japanese soldiers so successfully that we were compelled to drop atomic bombs on them rather than fight them face to face.

  33. #33 Alison
    December 12, 2006

    You’d think they’d be going against the dairy industry, which pumps hormones like crazy into cows. One of the reasons my girls didn’t develop as early as their friends is that I’ve avoided hormone-treated dairy all their lives – and fed them soy products several times a week at the same time.

    Hubby gets the same diet, and he hasn’t turned even a teensy bit gay. Go figure.

  34. #34 Morgan
    December 12, 2006

    Now, perhaps I’m missing something and either this point is considered either common knowledge or too widespread a myth to bother correcting, but how do they get from ‘soy -> less testosterone -> less masculine / less sex drive’ to ‘soy -> … -> homosexual’?

  35. #35 Epistaxis
    December 12, 2006

    Now I have to bake a devil’s food cake and substitute soy milk for cow milk. Except I don’t know how to bake.

  36. #36 Kevin Hayden
    December 12, 2006

    I’ve been eating pussy for 30+ years and I regularly cough up hairballs. Oddly, they’re all shaped like evangelical pseudo-scientific homophobics, though with a bit more substance.

  37. #37 xeric
    December 12, 2006

    I’m going to start referring to all my gay friends and myself as “Soy Boys” from now on. What a great meme.

  38. #38 JamesR
    December 12, 2006

    So if I have this correct. I can consume soy products and go Gay? OK so if that happens will I be able to move to Colorado and start my own church?

  39. #39 beepbeepitsme
    December 12, 2006

    RE: JamesR

    Then you have to change your name to Ted Haggard.

  40. #40 steve s
    December 12, 2006

    I made a tofu dish in March, and since then I have had sex with CJ’s wife. So the data is mixed.

  41. #41 midnightrambler
    December 12, 2006

    Wow, now we can have a re-make of Dr. Strangelove in which General Ripper attributes his turning gay to consumption of soy products and launches Plan R on a Middle Eastern nation that hasn’t attacked us. Cheney can play the Major Kong role, riding on a smart bomb waving his arms and shouting “Go F— Yourself!” and Rumsfeld can play the Buck Turgidson role … “Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get out hair mussed. I’m saying 2000 – 3000 dead after we’ve ceased major combat operations – depending on the breaks.”

  42. #42 Tommykey
    December 12, 2006

    I don’t know about soy milk making you gay, but I think I am living proof that silk milk doesn’t do jack to lower your cholesterol.

  43. #43 Kristine
    December 12, 2006

    How big is William’s wong?

    I thought of a different William…I’m no vegetarian. R’arr!

    OT, but way cool: superlions evolve on an island.

    They don’t eat soy, but neither do the females. Go fig.

  44. #44 Peter Barber
    December 13, 2006

    katie t said:

    Also: in studying the totally feminizing effects of soy on Asians, let’s not forget Kamikaze pilots, well-known for being total wimps.

    Ah, but Katie, don’t you see? Kamikaze was simply another manifestation of the self-destructive homosexual lifestyle we hear so much about!

  45. #45 Rey Fox
    December 13, 2006

    Could be perhaps the true meaning of “soy bomb”.

    The whole “homosexual=girlie man” thing is, of course, a popular, and when you get right down to it, rather absurd myth. Nowdays it always makes me think of this comic.

  46. #46 Molly, NYC
    December 13, 2006

    Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis . . .

    George: I was in the pool! I was in the pool! And I was eating tofu!

  47. #47 G. Tingey
    December 13, 2006

    One: these nutters are just lying AGAIN (sigh) …

    Two: If you are Lactose-intolerant, you don’t HAVE to use soy-milk (ugh) try Goat’s milk instead. If you still get a reaction then go to soy.
    But it works for a lot of people ….

  48. #48 Alex
    December 13, 2006

    I recall the Guardian running a big feature article by their food-policy person, Felicity Lawrence, about this. One thing about the Grauniad, it may have Ben “Bad Science” Goldacre, but the rest of the paper and the Weekend supplement in particular is seriously prone to woo, especially the lifestyle/worried well middle class parent subtype.

  49. #49 Tina
    December 13, 2006

    I was going to be serious, until I read this:
    “concentrated Oil of Gay”

    And I have been giggling ever since.

  50. #50 Steve LaBonne
    December 13, 2006

    Lactose-intolerant people (my daughter is one)can also drink cow’s milk that has the lactose pre-digested (I presume they just treat it with lactase); the brand name in the US is Lactaid. And they can consume any ordinary dairy product if they simply take a lactase tablet, available at any drugstore, along with it. No need to consume that soy crap, which won’t affect your genitals or libido but WILL negatively affect your taste buds. ;)

  51. #51 Chemist
    December 13, 2006

    Eat red meat and get the entire history of the universe in three (3) minutes!

    http://www.megashift.org/

    Check out his girlfriend Lena at

    http://jimrutz.blogspot.com/

  52. #52 Tina
    December 13, 2006

    My boyfriend is also lactose intolerant, and he had some of the ‘lactose-free’ milk. It tasted like cheese (no joke). So he stop after one carton, it was too weird. He likes the chocolate soy milk instead (no symptoms of TEH GAY yet).

  53. #53 TheBowerbird
    December 13, 2006

    Here’s the guardian article that was mentioned. http://www.guardian.co.uk/food/Story/0,,1828158,00.html Soy isn’t some wonder food, and it appears that there are some issues such as interference with nutrient uptake, and the hazy effects of plant estrogens. However, making a guy gay? Lunacy.

  54. #54 Steve LaBonne
    December 13, 2006

    Tina- I wonder if that milk had gone bad? To me Lactaid milk tastes like normal milk except a bit sweeter. I use it on my cereal so I don’t have to bother keeping 2 kinds of milk in the house.

  55. #55 PZ Myers
    December 13, 2006

    Oh, my…old geezer goes off to Russia and comes home with a 21 year old bride?

  56. #56 Joe
    December 13, 2006

    Doesn’t the aluminum sulfates in anti-perspirant also mimic estrogen? I have read that that + warming temps is dooming alligators to all be female.

  57. #57 Rico7
    December 13, 2006

    Rutz has also written, at WND, that the earth is likely the only place in the universe that has intelligent life. His “analytical proof” of this would be amusing if it weren’t for the fact that he’s deadly serious about it. Well ok, it’s still amusing.

    Meanwhile WND regularly publishes articles disputing evolution, while its founder and publisher, Joseph Farah, has personally written that he’s “100% certain” dinosaurs and men walked the earth together until just recently. This follows, of course, from the fact that the earth is only several thousand years old. So this article about soy fits right into the rigorous scientific standards that have always been the hallmark of WND’s content.

  58. #58 CJColucci
    December 13, 2006

    Things are back to normal now — or they will be once I get my hands on Steve S.

  59. #59 Krakus
    December 13, 2006

    Soy may not make anyone gay, but there have been studies suggesting (doesn’t seem to be any hard proof) that phytoestrogens like the genestein found in soy, may be feminizing at the “right” concentrarions. I’m not a nutritionist so I don’t know of the quanitities used in the studies are representative of normal dietery levels.

    Here’s an example:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=16443925&query_hl=4&itool=pubmed_docsum

  60. #60 RavenT
    December 13, 2006

    Things are back to normal now — or they will be once I get my hands on Steve S.

    So you swing both ways, CJ?

  61. #61 RavenT
    December 13, 2006

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

  62. #62 Dances With Books
    December 13, 2006

    I just wanted to thank you for explaining the issue about the evidence (or lack) thereof in relation to tofu. As a librarian, I constantly work in helping people question and critically look at things. I bet a lot of people look at that article from the WDN and take it as fact when all it takes is a little commonsense and searching to find it is not true. You searched for articles to see if there was evidence, and you also looked at the credentials (or lack thereof) of the authors, basics we should be teaching our students. Earlier today I saw another librarian blogger, who I shall leave nameless in the interest of avoiding conflict, more than willing to go along because it was on WDN (it’s a librarian of conservative persuasion). I think I found that more disturbing than anything else. I just wanted to yell at the guy, “you (should) know that article is pretty much b.s. Use those skills (are supposed to) have and show why it is b.s.” You made my day, Dr. Myers. Glad someone out there is still thinking.

  63. #63 Keith Douglas
    December 15, 2006

    Someone really needs to do some serious work into the psychology of these charlatans. I fear that rationalists like most of us make what I call the “Chomsky mistake” in cases like these. (We assume that presenting the truth of the matter is enough to sway most people, when it seems not …)

  64. #64 CJ
    December 18, 2006

    Well, as a transsexual vegetarian who ate vast amounts of soy for decades and finally started taking estradiol in my forties when the gender dysphoria became unmanageable, I can state definitively that phytoestrogens have no feminizing quality whatsoever. Many of my frends ate bottles of concentrated phytoestrogens and noticed… nothing. Except that their purses seemed unusually light.

    Soy taken in excess, however, does cause lots of smelly gas and diarrhea. Of that we can be certain. Nothing I wanted to feed to my infants. They got moo juice based formula when they ran out of the real thing.

    The thing to rememnber about right-wing people is that they not only believe religious fairytales, they also believe every other fairy tale too, as long as it reinforces their paranoia.

  65. #65 Jim Mooney
    December 18, 2006

    Hmm, doesn’t China have the biggest population on the planet? And they eat a lot of soy. Just who in heck is making all those Chinese women pregnant? Maybe they import non-soy-eating Christians in secret. Hmm, I don’t eat soy. Can I volunteer to go over to China and help them out with their infertility problem? Line those girls up, eh?

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