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Do hormones in meat affect human health?

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 11.02.58 AMIndeed, 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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  • Seoyeon kim

    It is certainly scary that hormone-treated meat and dairy products can cause harm on human health. I, personally, try to avoid meat and dairy products. If I need them, I try to buy “organic” or “all natural.” I have a quite high level of trust in FDA inspections. However, we never know if there will be any harm in the future. There has not been enough longitudinal studies about delayed health effects of hormone-treated products. Even if any harms would get found, it would be really difficult to attribute the harm to food products. I mean it’s difficult to detect certain food products’ delayed impact due to all the possible complex causes that might have intervened the effects throughout one’s life. Hormone-treated food products should be properly and clearly labeled, and relevant health authorities must constantly inform the public about hormone-treated products’ potential harms.

  • Marcus Blunt

    So is it true that ingredients in most food including dairy effects our body so that it helps lower the human population?

  • lovly2008

    But then if youre not spending much time on the research, quite naturally there would be no evidence. All this breast and prostate cancer is comming from somewhere and nobody is talking about it. The only thing being talked about is supposedly, cancer causing cigarettes. Funny, in all my 65 years, I have only known one person (I know many who smoke), to have smoked and died from long cancer. In the past 20 years I have known many, who have had, or died, from breast cancer.