There is a hot debate centering around the effects of growth hormones in meat on human health. Some people advocate for the hormones-injected meat because of the productivity in milk production and meat, so that the increasing need from meat market can be met and the profitability of the meat and dairy industries will be achieved. While others insist that the residues of growth hormones in meat have human-health consequences.
Do added hormones in meat and dairy affect human health? In order to address this problem, it is necessary to learn what are hormones and what are different hormones used in current meat and dairy industry.
Hormones are chemicals produced naturally for regulating sexuality in the bodies of all animals, including humans. There are six different kinds of hormones currently approved by FDA for being used in food production in the U.S.. Three of them are “all-natural.” Estradiol and progesterone are natural female sex hormones and testosterone is the natural male sex hormone; while other three are man-made chemicals: zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengesterol acetate.
It is realized that cows injected with material drawn from bovine pituitary glands (cow’s hormone secreting organ) producted more milk in 1930. In 2013, eighty percent of U.S. cows were injected with hormones to increase the meat production.
Indeed, it is reasonable for consumers to concern about hormones in foods due to previous hormones-related problem caused by synthetic estrogen drugs (estrogen is a significant hormone for the normal growth and development of the breast and tissues for reproduction). In 1960, diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen drugs, was found that it increased the risk of vaginal confer in daughters of treated women. Moreover, lifetime exposure to natural steroid hormone estrogen is associated with the increased risk of getting breast cancer.
However, in accordance with currently available scientific evidence, the hormones residue in the milk or meat of treated animals may be slightly higher than those remain in untreated animals, but the levels of hormones in milk or meat of treated animals are still within the normal range of natural variation. In addition, there is no scientific evidence to prove that drinking milk or eating meat from hormone-treated animals affect breast cancer risk.
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