Doctor Criticized for Claim that 'Impossible Burger' Has 18 Million Times More Estrogen than Whopper
CORRECTION, Jan. 24, 2020: The Western Journal has changed the headline of this article from “Doctor Warns ‘Impossible Burger’ Has 18 Million Times More Estrogen than Whopper” to “Doctor Criticized for Claim that ‘Impossible Burger’ Has 18 Million Times More Estrogen than Whopper” to better reflect the content of the article, which both explains and then largely debunks that claim. We apologize for any confusion the original headline may have caused our readers.
A South Dakota veterinarian issued a warning about imitation meat products like Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, but other experts say the fear surrounding soy products is overblown.
Dr. James Stangle originally rang the alarm bells on Dec. 20 in Tri-State Livestock News.
“The impossible whopper patty is made from 24 ingredients,” Stangle wrote. “The most important ingredient is soy protein. The whopper patty has just one ingredient. That would be beef.”
The Impossible Whopper is a burger with a patty made from plants, including soy, instead of beef.
a big deal just became a bigger deal. the Impossible Whopper is available nationwide starting 8/8. pic.twitter.com/TpFQenSLFQ
— Burger King (@BurgerKing) August 1, 2019
“The impossible whopper has 44 mg of estrogen and the whopper has 2.5 ng of estrogen,” he explained.
“Now let me refresh your metric system. There are 1 million nanograms (ng) in one milligram (mg). That means an impossible whopper has 18 million times as much estrogen as a regular whopper.”
This is a shocking amount of any hormone in a diet, especially one as controversial as estrogen.
As Stangle claims, with this level of estrogen it would take only four impossible Whoppers a day to reach a level that will affect the physiology of an adult male.
Commenters on the article, however, seem to think that Stangle is blowing the dangers of estrogen out of proportion. As a veterinarian in South Dakota and a contributor to a livestock news website, some pointed out there’s a possibility he has an interest in the beef industry.
Although there’s no proof one way or the other, scientists seem to agree that the occasional soy burger won’t do any harm.
Some older studies found that phytoestrogens — which are present in soy — had an impact on rodents, but this has seemingly never been conclusively replicated with people.
“Such a link has never been substantiated in human studies. I don’t think this is a concern at all,” Dr. Qi Sun, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard, told Men’s Health.
Other doctors seemed a bit more cautious.
Dr. Richard J. Santen, in an article on Vice, hinted that hormones from ludicrously high levels of soy may have an effect on humans, but even that was only a slight possibility.
“I have only seen one man where I suspected soy induced gynecomastia,” he told Vice, “but we measured the levels of soy products in urine in that patient and it did not support a causative correlation.”
There’s still research that needs to be done before we get a full picture of high soy intake and its interactions with the human body.
Until then, it seems that you can at least try the occasional Impossible Whopper without too much fear of negative outcomes.
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