The Baby Formula Link

A new study shows that women fed on soy-based formulas as infants have 25 times the likelihood of developing uterine fibroids as adults when compared to those who were fed milk-based formulas or breastfed. It has been well-established that these benign tumors of the uterus develop in response to the proliferation of certain hormones in a woman's body. Fibroids affect nearly a quarter of all women; cause heavy bleeding, severe pelvic pain, and fertility problems; and are the major cause of hysterectomies, today. This newest study is the first to examine early exposure to soy estrogens as a contributory factor in the later development of fibroids.

Researchers looked to the Sister Study as a data source for their study. The Sister Study looked at 50,000 women in the U.S. over a period of four years to study environmental risk factors for reproductive health issues and cancer. In this new study on soy and fibroids, the researchers limited their work to 20,000 white Sister Study participants aged 35-59. The scientists chose to study only the development of fibroids in women under 35.

Phone Mom

The women were questioned as to whether they'd ever received a diagnosis of uterine fibroids and if so, their age at the time of diagnosis. Women were also asked questions about their early childhoods, including whether they'd received soy formula. The participants were told to phone their moms and ask questions about their early infancy. Researchers realized that memories might be faulty because of the passage of time, so the questionnaires offered the possibility of responding that they were " definitely, probably, probably not, or definitely not fed soy formula," as infants.

25 Times!

Those women who responded that they'd "probably" been fed soy-based formula as babies had 25 times the likelihood of having been diagnosed with fibroids by the age of 35. In those who had "definitely" been fed this type of formula, the likelihood for the early development of fibroids was even greater.

Researchers suggest that since this study is the first of its kind, more work needs to be done to replicate these results. However, earlier studies in humans and animals have found that soy has an effect on reproduction. One small study discovered that women fed on soy formula as babies had longer, more painful menstrual periods, which are symptoms of uterine fibroids. Animals fed soy isoflavones in infancy, have been found to develop fibroids, cancers of the reproductive system, as well as infertility.

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