San Diego Dr. David Goodman cannot understand the media's lack of concern. The Escondido-based research scientist claims to have important in-formation about soy-based baby formulas, and no one, he says, is listening. Goodman revealed his findings in an article accepted for publication by Insight, the conservative magazine published weekly by the Washington Times. Goodman is frustrated that Insight has bumped the story since October 2000. It is now slated to run June 25.
According to Goodman, high levels of manganese in soy-based formulas cause disruptive behavior in young people. Four California Universities and a private foundation have spent considerable money investigating the problem. "The Violence Research Foundation had a group do the background research on the link between violence today and the use of soy-based infant formula back in 1982, 1983. It was substantially greater than it is now, though it's still at dangerous levels."
The 1982 levels were estimated to be 400 times the biological need of newborn infants. "The newborn has absolutely no capacity to metabolize manganese, because the mother only provides four parts-per-million manganese through breast milk. When an excess is taken, it's sequestered in the organs of the body, and one of those organs is the basal ganglea, in the vicinity of the dopamine neurons. And the dopamine neurons are responsible for many behavior changes during adolescence."
Dopamine, a neuromodulator, is a brain chemical related to sexual activity that quadruples during early adolescence. "Nobody has an exact handle on what it does. I like to think of it as 'the honeymoon modulator.' It links rewards in the personal and interpersonal realm, but that's just speculation."
The deposit of manganese in the brain can have undesirable effects on neurofunction. "Manganese has been identified as a source of Parkinson's disease. Excesses can cause 'manganism' in those who mine for manganese. Those miners, in a surprisingly short time, are damaged in these basal ganglea nuclei, and within 20 years, the symptoms of Parkinson's disease emerge. There's also a big study in Britain where babies unable to metabolize manganese suffered liver damage. It's dangerous when you get too much manganese and you can't metabolize it. After about two years old the child acquires the full ability to metabolize manganese as an adult. Adults who drink soy milk have no trouble with manganese and can eliminate it."
The large levels of manganese in soy milk were not due to deliberate product enrichment. "The soy bean is a plant, and it sequesters metals from the soil, and one of them is manganese. I've heard that to remove the excess manganese would add a cost of about two cents per serving to the product. I've never really noticed that corporations were primarily benefactors of mankind! Besides, the technology was not well-developed at the time."
Goodman insists that this information isn't new -- just ignored. "The identification of the excess manganese was done by many, many scientists in the United States and overseas. Dr. Louis Gottschalk, M.D., Ph.D. -- a very big gun at U.C. Irvine, a very significant man in government research and psychiatry -- was approached by oil millionaire Everett "Red" Hodges of San Clemente. Hodges was running the Violence Research Foundation, also in San Clemente, and was interested in violence in teenagers, and they stumbled onto this manganese problem. That was about 1990.
"Although Gottschalk did not believe that something so simple as that could contribute to out-of-control behavior, he agreed to study four youth detention facilities run by the State of California. What he discovered and published -- and what was not particularly accepted by his colleagues -- was an excess of manganese in scalp hair among those charged with crimes of -- I won't say 'violence,' but crimes against individuals."
Gottschalk's findings prompted Fred Crinella, clinical professor of pediatrics at U.C. Irvine, to replicate them. "Crinella believed that the basal ganglea was the primary source of executive function in human adults and that if children with attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have been exposed to manganese earlier, they will be brain-damaged. There's an aberration in the development of the enzymal system, so the child doesn't go through normal adolescence. They're less able to inhibit violent impulses or antisocial behavior. The result is that Crinella contacted two U.C. Davis people, Dr. Keene and Dr. Bolnerdal, and they decided to do some studies with rat pups. With U.C. Davis graduate student Trinh Tran, they gave rat pups doses of manganese comparable to that found in rat breast milk, which is similar to human breast milk. They looked at the behavior of rat pups given doses of .05 milligrams manganese per liter, the same as breast milk, versus .25 and .50 per liter and compared them. In the groups given the two larger amounts of manganese, the dopamine in the basal ganglea diminished by 55 percent when tested in adolescence. They also suffered some other disorders in inhibiting prepotent behaviors."
Crinella's research confirmed Gottschalk's, with Crinella finding that there is a link between what happens at birth and what happens with adolescence. "That's not all that unusual, as we all know about the myth of or the truth of the 'crack babies.' We know that with the babies of alcoholics and even the babies of mothers who smoke potent marijuana, there are some changes in adolescence that are titratable from brain damage both before and after birth. What's interesting is that the values of soy-based formula are about .16 milligrams now, while it was .40 in 1980. It could be that if the mother is deficient in calcium and iron during pregnancy, the amount of manganese taken into the brain is vastly increased, because iron competes with manganese. Because of the findings at the conference on toxic metal effects at U.C. Irvine last September, I ended up writing the article."
While the media continues to ignore these alarming findings, the University of California and Hodges are doing all they can to find out more. "Mr. Hodges is putting up between $50,00 and $100,000 more, and [the four U.C. campuses] are scrimping from their grants to pursue this with higher mammals than rats. In fact, they're working with primates and they're depriving the mother [primates] of an amount of calcium, which, when low, as they are in ghetto mothers, increase the uptake of manganese. They've also found out that premature babies absorb twice the manganese that full-term babies do."