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The Effects of Growth Hormones in Food

Drugs in animal breeding
Growth hormones are given to animals, such as cattle, in order to make them gain weight faster, thus producing meat products for consumers at a faster rate. Growth hormones also increase milk production in animals. While dairy and meat industries depend on the use of growth hormones for increased productivity and profit, these hormones may hold negative health repercussions for humans.

 

Early Puberty in Girls

Early puberty may be associated with certain growth hormones used in meat and dairy products. Some researchers believe that steroid hormones, in particular, cause girls to undergo puberty prematurely, an occurrence associated with increased risk for breast cancer later in life. If you are concerned about this potential side effect of growth hormones, seek hormone-free meat and dairy products or switch to an organic diet.

 

Increased Risk for Breast Cancer

Researchers and consumers are concerned that breast cancer risk may increase due to use of hormones in food. Growth hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, are used in cattle and sheep. According to Weil, they are used in up to two-thirds of all American cattle. If you wish to continue eating products derived from cattle or sheep, seek products clearly labeled, “no hormones administered.” Such foods are more expensive, but they are free of hormone-related risks. Red meat and whole milk contain saturated fats, which increase risk for heart disease and other conditions, so consuming them on an occasional, moderate basis may allow you to spend a bit more when purchasing them.

 

Increased Risk for Prostate Cancer

Another concern of researchers and consumers is that growth hormones in food may increase risk for prostate cancer. According to an article published in “Medical News Today,” September 23, 2007, Australian researcher, Mike Waters, from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, found that blocking certain growth hormones may reduce risk for certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer. Thus, consuming foods that contain hormone residue may increase a person’s likelihood of developing prostate cancer. Experts at Cornell University suggest increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and grains; consuming organic meat; cooking meats well, without burning or charring them, and choosing the leanest cuts of meat to reduce your intake of growth hormones and improve overall health.

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