Q: “I’ve heard certain milks, including soy, contain estrogen. Are they safe for men to drink?”
A: So what would you say if we told you that you have “female” hormones too?
Yes, it’s true. Guys have estrogen and progesterone, although much less than women have. And while milk from a cow also naturally contains estrogen and progesterone, those levels are low as well— and no study has convincingly showed that drinking milk raises the amount of these hormones in your blood, says Maxine Smith, R.D., a clinical dietician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.
Soy milk, on the other hand, contains something called phytoestrogens, which are structurally similar to estrogens but have either estrogenic or estrogen-blocking effects. Again, Smith says there’s no evidence at this point that these are a problem, and studies actually show that soy milk can help lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
So, hormonally speaking, all milk sold commercially—whether plant or animal based—is “absolutely safe for men to drink,” says Smith. You can keep drinking it for a post-workout boost and put your man boob fears to rest.
MF EXPERT: Maxine Smith, R.D., L.D., has more than 20 years of experience as a registered, clinical dietitian and presently works in the department of Nutrition Therapy at Cleveland Clinic. Her areas of special interest include weight, lipid, and diabetes management, and disease prevention.