FRIDAY, April 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Two very different uses for soy are covered in the same study, published in the April issue of the journal Biology of Reproduction.
The protein-rich plant may help protect men against prostate cancer and male pattern baldness, the research says.
Scientists from Colorado State University, Brigham Young University and Children's Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati discovered that consuming soy creates a molecule called equol in the intestine.
Equol is a natural and powerful blocker of a potent male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) involved in prostate cancer and male pattern baldness.
"This molecule is remarkable," Kenneth Setchell, director of clinical mass spectrometry at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a prepared statement. Setchell first identifed equol in humans 20 years ago.
"These findings are of immense clinical importance because blocking the action of the potent androgen (male hormone) DHT has been one of the holy grails of the pharmaceutical industry as a strategy for treating prostate cancer and other related diseases," Setchell adds. "This natural metabolite made from soy isoflavones, which are found in high amounts in soybeans, does this very effectively."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about soy.