Farming is no longer a mom and pop industry where many different farmers contributed to the food supply. It’s now a multi-million dollar industry with factory farms that produce a large percentage of the food that’s available. There are new techniques to get more marketable food at the lowest possible cost and reap more money per acre from land crops. One of these techniques is to give farm animals hormones and antibiotics. That causes some people to be worried about hormones in food. They may be right to be concerned.
Cows get a dose of the hormone Recombinant bovine growth hormone—rBGH—to boost the production of milk.
What is rBGH? It’s a hormone created in the lab to help increase the production of milk. It does the job, but it also transfers to the milk. Is there a consequence those who drink the milk? It stimulates the production of IGF-1—-insulin-like growth factor—in the milk and to the body of those who consume the milk products from cows given this hormone. That hormone not only acts like HGF–human growth factor—on the body, too much of it can increase the risk for prostate, breast and other types of cancer. According to most studies, however, there’s so little increase in the amount of IGF-1 that the difference is insignificant.
There are consequences for using rBGH.
Even though the FDA and food industry insist there is no need to worry about the potential for physical harm to the body of people consuming dairy products from cows given rBGH, there are consequences. The cows have a higher incidence of mastitis, which are infections of the udder. In turn, farmers then give them antibiotics to clear up the infection. At some farms, whether it a dairy or other type of farm, animals are regularly treated with antibiotics. It keeps them healthier in crowded, stressful conditions and helps them grow faster. Even though there’s a waiting period for the antibiotic to leave the animal’s body before it can be taken to market, it can increase the potential for antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Other hormones in animal products and genetic modifications.
Besides rBGH, which promotes milk production, there are other hormones given to animals to boost growth. Progesterone, testosterone and estrogen are added. Natural steroid hormones and synthetic ones are given to boost growth and shorten the growth cycle. It does increase both meat and milk production, but at what cost to the public? There’s no clear answer whether people can absorb those hormones by eating meat, eggs or drinking milk from cows given the hormones and whether they actually affect the body if absorption is possible.
- Some scientists believe that the hormones in food may account for the earlier age for onset of puberty. It’s averaging seven months earlier since farmers started giving farm animals hormones on a regular basis.
- A study in the 2009 issue of Medical Hypotheses stated there was a potential for delayed effects in children whose mother’s drank milk high in rBGH. Another study said it could cause low sperm count in male children when they become adults.
- If you’re concerned about hormones in animal products, error on the side of safety. Use products labeled organic, hormone and antibiotic free.
- There are some smaller studies that show increased blood levels of IG-1 boosts the risk for several diseases, including diabetes.