You're what you eat (Blog 7)

How many hormones can one person handle?


I read an article in the Huffington Post about a very controversial topic regarding food today, which is the use of hormones and whether we should be worried or not.  Hormones are being used to generate cows that produce more milk, salmon that grows twice as fast, beef cows that grow 20 percent faster, among many other things.  The big question regarding all of this is whether humans should be worried.  Are these hormones dangerous to the humans who ingest them?

One of the major concerns is whether the manipulation of hormones could lead to the increase of other hormones such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF).  This hormone which is a result of the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) has been shown to lead to different types of cancers in humans.  This obviously raises quite a few concerns about the use of the legalized rBGH.  However, this IGF comes from a multitude of sources including the largest one of all, our own bodies.  The IGF in the products which additional hormones is nowhere near the amount of IGF our body creates on its own.  So the question becomes how much of an effect do these products really have on us?

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Another concern is whether additional estrogen is leading to early puberty.  Most cows today receive doses of estrogen and other hormones by an implant in their ear.  Some are concerned that this is leading to the early puberty in children.  Children are going into puberty at a younger age than those in previous history and the causes still remain unclear.  Once again this goes back to the point of where the estrogen is coming from.  The amount in the meat is far far smaller than the estrogen created in our bodies.  So again the question must be asked whether estrogen we receive through these meats is really contributing to this problem.

Personally I would eat either organic or inorganic food at this point with one major reason.  There is not nearly enough research to understand the effects.  At this point in time we really do not know whether these hormones will have lasting effects or any at all on humans.  We know what they can do, but that is far different than seeing the actual results.  So, I would have no problem buying meat that does not have the organic label.  Another reason being that usually organic meat runs at a much higher price than those without the label.  To me, organic labeling has just become a word to give people peace of mind.  Until I see conclusive results regarding the use of these hormones I really don’t need that.

(Image source)

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6 thoughts on “How many hormones can one person handle?

  1. Garrett, while this article might not yield conclusive evidence about the deleterious effects of adding hormones to animals, do you think the multinational corporations that produce much of what we eat have an ethical responsibility to either conduct future testings or inform its consumers about the potentially harmful side effects?

  2. I also read this article as I was doing my research. However, I would be concerned eating too much inorganic foods for the very reason that there is not enough research on the matter. You may be right that there are no problems when eating inorganic meat, however there is still that risk fact that something unnatural may have a large effect. In my opinion, I do not think the risk would be worth it.

  3. I like your skepticism! I’m not one to completely buy into the all-organic train until I see some heavy research. I am also aware that these labels like “all natural” and “organic” are still a bit blurry–there doesn’t seem to be definitive law on what constitutes each category. While I am concerned with hormones in my food, I am not totally convinced either.

  4. This is an interesting point of view, much different than the other blog posts I have read. I am surprised that many of the hormones and estrogen in our food/meat is negligible compared to what we produce in our own bodies.

    Like you I would love to see analysis on the long term affects of this on humans, but I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future; leaving our questions unanswered for quite sometime.

  5. When I was growing up, my family never bought milk that was produced by companies that were known to inject the cows with hormones. I never really understood why it was such a big deal, but my mom always said that it was not healthy to go through puberty because of an outside factor like hormones in milk.

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