Perhaps you’ve heard some scary things about the hormones in milk lately. Does Canadian milk contain hormones that can secretly mess with your hormones? Are hormones in milk harmful?
The truth is, it’s complicated. While some studies have linked hormones in milk and dairy foods to potential health issues, the evidence is mixed, and there are a lot of myths out there.
Like cooking with cannabis oil, researching hormones in milk could be a hassle without the right information.
Before you swear off dairy forever, here’s what you need to know about the hormones in milk and whether they’re harmful to your health. The reality may surprise you.
What Are the Hormones in Milk?
Have you ever wondered why milk lasts so long on supermarket shelves? The secret is added hormones. Some dairy farmers give their cows synthetic hormones like recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) to increase milk production.
These artificial bovine growth hormone mimics the cow’s natural growth hormone, causing her to produce milk in more quantity.
While the FDA approves the use of rBGH and rBST and has been deemed safe, some studies have linked them to health issues in humans, like cancer, infertility, and insulin resistance. In fact, many people prefer to buy milk from cows that are not treated with synthetic hormones.
Because of these concerns, rBGH and rBST have been banned in other countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Argentina, and all 28 nations of the European Union.
U.S. brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Tillamook even pledged to avoid milk from hormone-treated cows.
If you want growth hormones free milk, choose organic or “rBGH-free” or “rBST-free.” You may also choose low-fat or fat-free milk options for the best nutrition.
While the research is mixed, many feel that avoiding excess hormones whenever possible is the safest approach. Hormone-free milk may cost a bit more, but peace of mind and health are worth the investment for some.
Do Hormones in Milk Pose Health Risks? The Ongoing Debate
Before you pair some warm milk with authentic baguettes, it’s important to understand how it will affect you.
A lot of people wonder if consuming milk is harmful to our health. It’s an important question, and the debate is ongoing.
On the one hand, some studies have found a possible link between the rBGH given to dairy cows and increased cancer risk in humans. rBGH is a genetically engineered hormone injected into cows to boost their milk production. Traces of it may end up in the milk we drink.
On the flip side, most major health organizations haven’t found convincing evidence that rBGH harms humans in the amounts present in milk and dairy products. They consider milk and dairy safe to consume in average quantities.
The concern is whether the hormones in milk disrupt our hormone balance and spur the growth of cancer cells. We know hormones are potent, and even small amounts could have effects, especially in children and teens. At the same time, we’ve been consuming dairy for centuries without obvious harm.
As with many areas of nutrition, moderation and balance seem critical. While studies continue, you may want to choose milk labeled “rBGH-free” or “no artificial hormones” if you have concerns.
You might also consider plant-based milk alternatives, which have no dairy hormones at all. The risks, if any, appear small for most adults. But it’s an ongoing debate worth being aware of to make the best choices for your health.
Potential Health Risks Of Hormones In Milk
While research is mixed, some studies have linked these artificial hormones to health issues in humans like:
- Increased risk of some breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers: The hormones may act as endocrine disruptors in the human body.
- Early puberty in girls: Hormones in milk or other dairy foods could alter human hormone levels and accelerate the onset of puberty.
- Increased risk of acne and other skin conditions: The hormones may stimulate oil glands and hair follicles.
- Gastrointestinal problems: It may irritate the stomach lining and intestines, causing digestive issues.
- Infertility issues: Hormone disruption from milk may impact fertility and reproductive health in both men and women.
What’s The Healthier Choice?
Given the potential risks, many people opt for hormone-free and organic milk options:
- Organic milk comes from cows not treated with rBST or rBGH: It’s also free from antibiotics and GMOs.
- Hormone-free or “no added hormone” milk also comes from cows not given artificial hormones. However, it may still contain GMOs and antibiotics.
- Grass-fed milk is from cows fed an organic, grass-based diet, not commercial. Grass-fed milk tends to be more nutritious with fewer additives.
- You can take skim milk instead of whole milk since the hormone level is higher in the former.
Choosing hormone-free, organic, or grass-fed milk is a good precautionary step towards better health for you and your family. While the research isn’t conclusive, avoiding excess hormones whenever possible is an intelligent approach.
Are Organic Or Hormone-free Milk Safer?
If you wish to avoid milk from cows treated with rBGH, choosing organic or milk labeled “rBGH-free” or “No artificial hormones” ensures the milk is from cows not treated with the supplement.
However, there is no evidence these milk are nutritionally superior or safer than regular milk. They simply come from cows raised differently. For most adults and children, milk from rBGH-treated or non-treated cows can be part of a balanced diet.
The bottom line is that hormones in milk, whether naturally occurring or added, may or may not pose a health threat. While research continues, most studies have found no cause for concern about hormones in milk within a regular diet. Simply put, moderation and balance are essential to good health and nutrition.
Despite the sensational headlines and fearmongering, the truth is that hormones in milk are not inherently harmful to human health.
While no food is perfect, and milk does contain naturally occurring hormones, the evidence shows they do not always pose a real risk in cow’s milk.
The benefits of drinking milk may outweigh the perceived harm from hormones. So, feel free to take your Chocolate Babka with some warm milk if you want. Unless you have a specific medical reason to avoid dairy, pouring that carton of milk down the drain is unnecessary. Or better still, opt for rBGH-free dairy.