Hormone Use in Meat and Dairy Products

Emily Usinger

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Hormone Use in Meat and Dairy Products


Numerous people are unaware of the extra additives placed into the foods they consume. Nowadays hormones are becoming more popular in certain meat and dairy products. Humans and animals produce hormones naturally throughout their bodies. If an animal receives particular hormones they can have increased milk production and have the ability to gain weight more rapidly. Even though hormones appear to be a positive for production, scientists believe that added hormones in animals may cause cancer in humans later in life.

As early as the 1930s, farmers have been practicing the use of hormone injection. According to “Consumer Concerns About Hormones in Food” by Renu Gandhi and Suzanne Snedeker, there are six different kinds of steroid hormones that are currently approved by the FDA. It has been found that the female sex hormone estrogen shows to also have extreme growth rate affects in cattle and poultry. Researchers obtain theories that these hormones may cause early puberty in girls. This is a threat because early puberty has been found to be associated with a higher risk for breast cancer.  There is also concern that because of increased milking, hormone-treated cows may become more prone to infection of the udders, called mastitis. This could lead to more antibiotics being used to treat the cows, in turn leading to more residues of antibiotics to remain in the milk. Humans can then have the bacteria in their body become antibiotic resistant. It this is more of a challenge to control resistant bacteria with available antibiotics. The practice of using hormones has become a never ending debate as well as a political issue. The European Union currently will not allow the use of the protein hormone rbGH for dairy cattle. Studies are still being done for more evidence to prove that hormone residues in products do cause human health effects.

Although hormones are suggested to result in several health problems, more research must be taken before use can be completely banned. I believe that hormone products are unnatural and not worth the risk of getting sick later in life. Even though hormones can create larger meat mass per animal and allow greater milk production, it doesn’t weigh out the consequence of developing cancer.



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