Israel health ministry warns over soya

The Israeli health ministry has warned that consumption of soya products should be limited in young children, avoided altogether if possible in infants and used in moderation by adults.

Although research showing possible harm (higher risk of cancer,
male infertility etc) is based on animal or retrospective human studies, the committee issued the warning based on the precautionary principle. Soya contains phyto-oestrogens that may have some of the effects of the human hormone if consumed in large quantities.
Soya consumption is high in Israel (the use of soya infant formula amongst the highest in the world) mainly because it fits in well with kosher food practices which forbid mixing meat and milk and the dishes and cutlery used for them.

‘We don’t know the long-term effects on health of large amounts of soya, so we are urging caution’ said Dorit Nitzan Kaluski, director of food and nutrition services. Paediatricians will monitor the thyroxine concentrations in infants and toddlers with hypothyroidism who drink soya-based formulas and foods. Women with a high risk of breast cancer will be advised to consult their doctors.

Dr Nitzan Kaluski said that to avoid pressure from the soya food firms, the committee did not inform them in advance but within a day of the report’s release she had received at least one lawyer’s letter and numerous requests for information.

BMJ 30th July 2005 p254


First Published July 2005


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