A 9-year Japanese study published in the scientific journal ‘Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention’ in August 2008 found that men eating more soy foods had a significantly lower risk of localised prostate cancer. This effect was attributed to genistein and daidzein, two isoflavones found in soybeans. Isoflavones are naturally occurring compounds, and soy isoflavones are also known as phytoestrogens, because they have a mildly oestrogenic action.
It appears that soy isoflavones may have a protective effect by altering men’s metabolism of oestrogen, reducing testosterone levels and inhibiting the action of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. This enzyme is implicated not just in the development of prostate cancer, but also male pattern baldness, as it disrupts the normal hair growth cycle.
It has been suggested that men should consume soy foods such as miso, tofu or soy milk regularly, to protect their prostate health – and if this also results in enhanced hair growth, so much the better! However, hair loss can have many different causes, so if you have any concerns, it is advisable to seek professional advice.
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