Researchers at the University of Toronto say that soy foods not only reduce the risk of heart disease, but do so without raising the levels of hormone activity. Some concerns had been expressed previously that because soy contains estrogen-like compounds, soy consumption might lead to hormone problems -- but "we have found no evidence to support this," Professor David Jenkins said.A study conducted jointly by the university's Department of Nutritional Sciences and St. Michael's Hospital also found that soy intake can reduce heart disease by lowering the levels of oxidized cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol is absorbed faster into the linings of coronary arteries, forming dangerous plaque that can cause harm.The new study has been published in the journal Metabolism. A University of Toronto statement said "this confirms that soy should be promoted for its important role in preventing heart disease without fear," according to Professor Jenkins.The study used two separate groups of people as test subjects, both of which were placed on low-fat diets over two months. One group consumed a diet with soy foods, the other without soy. Tests of estrogen levels were conducted, and Professor Jenkins said the results refuted claims about purported hormone risks.Previous research by Jenkins had found that soy consumption reduces general cholesterol levels, the university said, and also that soy decreases the amount of LDL or bad cholesterol in the body while maintaining the amount of HDL or good cholesterol."Some people have been discouraged from eating soy because of claims that the estrogen in it may produce dangerously high levels of hormones in the body," Professor Jenkins said. He said the new research demonstrates that soy is safe and doesn't contribute to hormone problems.The Jenkins study was funded by a university-industry research program and by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture.