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Soy milk is a product in which casein from regular milk is replaced with soy protein derived from soybeans. It has been noticed that soymilk has beneficial effects on many aspects of human health. For example, it has been traditionally used for lowering blood cholesterol level, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes mellitus, lung and prostate cancer, and other diseases.

There are also side effects, however, especially if consumed in high amounts. Here we discuss some of the side effects reported by persons who were using soymilk.

Short-Term Side Effects

Most of the side effects associated with using soymilk are short-term and are not clinically significant. They include bloating, nausea, and constipation. If you notice a rash, itchiness, or hot flashes after drinking soymilk, it is likely that you are allergic to some of the ingredients of that product. In this case, you should stop using it and consult your physician. No treatment is needed for these short-term side effects, except in severe cases, when symptomatic therapy may be applied.

Long-Term Side Effects

Imbalance of sex hormones. Soymilk and other products containing soy can cause a hormonal imbalance that affects the sex hormones. This is due to fact that soy contains substances called isoflavones. These phytochemicals are analogues of estrogen and are therefore used in postmenopausal women to regulate their symptoms, such as hot flashes. The unwanted effect of isoflavones is a decrease in the activity of natural estrogen in the human body, so women can experience symptoms of decreased estrogen concentration. Estrogen has many protective effects in the human organism, and it is responsible for women to have lower risk of cardiovascular diseases before menopause.

On the other hand, it has been shown that women who consume soy products have lower risk of breast cancer. This is because estrogen stimulates cell division and tumor growth, while isoflavones are weak estrogen analogues which prevent natural estrogen to fully express its activity.

In men, soymilk can decrease libido due to decreased testosterone levels.

Gastrointestinal symptoms. Ingredients of soymilk block the activity of digestive enzymes necessary for protein digestion. That is why soymilk can cause bloating and indigestion, but after prolonged use, a thin layer of mucus is created on the inside surface of the bowels, and that may affect food digestion and absorption long-term. This layer is also formatted in the respiratory tract, so it can worsen asthma and cause sinus problems.

Disturbed mineral absorption. Absorption of minerals is also decreased due to above mentioned reasons, so it can cause deficiency of iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Iodine deficiency can also occur in persons who take large amounts of soy milk for longer period of time. Iodine is necessary for proper function of thyroid gland, and the result of iodine deficiency is hypothyroidism.

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