LOS ANGELES - Scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center today presented data from two separate studies--one in animals and the other in humans--that considered together suggest that a diet high in soybeans and other legumes during pregnancy and breastfeeding may have a subtle but long-term impact on the development of children.
The information was presented in Washington, D.C., at the Third International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease, sponsored by the American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS).
Soybeans and other food-source plants contain compounds, called phytoestrogens or isoflavones, which have been found to produce a variety of mild hormonal actions within the human body. Studies in recent years are confirming that the estrogenic effects of these compounds may be beneficial in preventing or treating a variety of conditions such as the unpleasant symptoms of menopause.
"But we are a very different creature when we are an embryo or a fetus or a child or a teenager. We're very different when we are a reproductive-age adult or an aging adult. At each stage, we have a different profile of risk or benefit," said Claude Hughes, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Women's Health at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and lead investigator on the studies presented.
"At the beginning of the life span, when tissues in our bodies are being organized in utero and in the first months of life, there is good reason to believe -- based on animal studies and in some human observations -- that sex hormones are very important in getting things organized properly," he said.
"These hormones influence the way the brain is organized, the way the reproductive organs and cells develop, even the way immune function develops. Therefore, if mom is eating something or has in her body fat something that can act like sex hormones, it is logical to wonder if that could change the baby's development," said Dr. Hughes. "If there is an i
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Cedars-Sinai Medical Center