The presence of growth hormones in foods like meat and milk has been stirring up several apprehensions in the minds of consumers. While the FDA permits injection of hormones into cattle for enhancing meat and milk production, how safe are they?
Hormone growth promotants (HGPs) are used in dairy and meat industries to obtain larger livestock, higher quality meats, and higher milk production. The US FDA approves injection of such hormones to cattle for increased productivity.
Hormones are responsible for the growth and development of the body. These chemical messengers are naturally produced in the body, however, meat and dairy producers are depending on synthetic hormones to increase productivity and profit. But, what’s their effect on our health?
Growth Hormone in Milk
In the 1930s, when growth hormone bovine somatotropin (BST) was injected into cows, milk production was observed to increase considerably. BST hormone is a hormone naturally secreted by the pituitary glands of cows, which interacts with other hormones in the cow’s body to control milk production. It was only in the 1980s, that a breakthrough in use of recombinant DNA procedures made it possible to inject rBGH or Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone into millions of cows to increase milk production.
Growth Hormone in Beef
It was in 1956, that the US cattle industry began using hormones to boost beef production. DES (diethylstilbestrol) hormone was used then to fatten cattle faster, thereby ensuring fresh meat supply at a quicker rate. Today, the FDA has approved 6 hormone growth promotants (HGPs), three naturally occurring hormones: testosterone, oestradiol, and progesterone, and three synthetically prepared hormones: trenbolone, melengestrol, and zeranol.
Their Effects on Our Body
When hormones are injected into cows, their traces or residues are seen to leach into the milk and meat, which further enter the bodies of those who consume it. As of today, there are no conclusive studies to prove these hormones have any adverse effects on the body. Nevertheless, based on some smaller studies, these hormones are feared to lower the age of puberty onset in boys and girls. However, there are no specific findings to prove this. Researchers are also apprehensive about the increased risks of contracting breast and prostate cancer. However, again there isn’t any conclusive evidence to prove the same.
Besides these effects on our human bodies, researchers and scientists are also apprehensive about the effect of these hormones on the environment. Since residues of hormones also seep into a cow’s dung, when this manure makes its way into the rivers and streams, it will also affect various other living creatures such as fish, frog, etc. The European Union has banned the use of growth hormones in food, and have also banned beef imports from the United States to safeguard the health of their people.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advise.