The Controversy Over Added Hormones in Meat and Dairy
So, what is this debate all about? Why do some people suspect hormonal additives are unhealthy? Are their suspicions founded? There is a lot of conflicting information about what additives may be in our dairy and meat products and what effect they have on us. It can be confusing to sort through all the noise. The truth is, there may not be clear answers, so how should you choose your food?
Hormones are present in all animal products whether or not the animals have been treated with hormone supplements.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a joint committee of the Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) state that the amount of these hormones that make it into food products is safe for eating. Hormones and steroids are given to livestock to help improve the production of dairy and beef cattle. Some hormones that may be used in dairy cows include:
- Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH)— to promote milk production (may also see it as bovine somatotropin [BST])
- Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterine—steroid hormones added to promote growth and production.
Beef cattle are often given steroid additives to increase growth and development. Common steroids include:
- Natural steroids like estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone.
- Man-mad steroids from compounds of estrogen, androgen, and progestin.
These additives have proven benefits for increasing milk and meat production, but it does not come without controversy.
Last reviewedNovember 2012by Brian P. Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.