By Matt Hall — Staff Writer
A new study from Texas Tech researchers indicates that the presence of both estrogen and arsenic at elevated levels from what the EPA has deemed “safe” can cause cancer. While in times past this wasn’t an issue for parents of newborns, changes in how infant formula is produced are now putting millions of newborns in danger. If your infant is drinking soy based formulas, he or she may be at risk. Keep reading to learn how to know whether your infant is potentially susceptible to this recently discovered way of developing cancer.
Soy-Based Formulas: A Secret Source of Arsenic
You may be wondering how arsenic has anything to do with your infant formula. Everyone knows even small doses of arsenic are fatal. Wouldn’t formula manufacturers take precautions to make sure there’s nothing as deadly as arsenic in something intended for infants?
The problem is how the formula is produced. When soy is grown, it is treated with dangerous pesticides that have high levels of arsenic. Since most soy produced is GMO soy, traditional pesticides won’t work and dangerous, arsenic-rich poisons have to be used instead. Not all of this arsenic is washed off when the soy is processed, and some of it makes it into the soy-based infant formula.
How Does the Arsenic in Formula Combine with Estrogen and Put an Infant at an Increased Risk for Cancer?
When someone is exposed to both arsenic and estrogen, they are almost twice as likely to develop cancer cells in the prostate and other parts of the body, according to the Texas Tech study. Infants are exposed to arsenic from their formula (as explained above), and they are exposed to estrogen due to their normal development. Additionally, infants fed on soy formulas are exposed to the equivalent of five times the amount of a daily dose of estrogen birth control pills.
This increased exposure to phytoestrogens (estrogen-like compounds in soy) causes serious problems for infants fed on formula. Male infants receiving so much estrogen can develop learning disabilities and sexual maturation. Females can enter puberty much earlier than normal, developing as early as age 8. This is not to mention the increased cancer risk (even in infants) due to the much higher exposure to estrogen and arsenic.
Even if your family history does not indicate a predisposition to cancer, your infant can still be at risk. According to Dr. Kamaleshwar Singh, PhD., at Texas Tech, “The majority of cancers are caused by environmental influences.” This means that it’s outside influences like chemical exposure that leads to most cancers — up to 90-95% — and not simply genetics. While many chemicals are examined in sterile, isolated lab environments and pass safety tests, in the real world we are exposed to multiple chemicals at once. That means we — and our children — could be coming in contact with multiple carcinogenic chemicals daily, highly increasing our risk for cancer.
Solutions to this Newly Discovered Danger
It may seem discouraging to think that even something as innocent as baby formula can put the ones we love at risk for such a terrible disease as cancer, but there are things we can do to protect them.
The most important thing we can do is use dairy-based formula or breast milk. While soy-based formula has far too high levels of estrogen to be safe, none of the dangerous phytoestrogen levels from soy are present in dairy-based formula or breast milk — even if the mother consumes soy products. Natural is better.
Even though GMO soy and artificial formulas can lead to cancer even in infants, keeping things natural can protect our little ones from this problem. Clearly, more research needs to be done to determine how to best keep children safe. In the meantime, avoid soy formula for its many related health problems.