Hormones in Beef Present Dangers such as Cancer

Hormones in Beef: Profitability vs. Health

by Michelle on March 25, 2010

I read an article on Naturalnews today about hormones in U.S. raised beef and had to share it with you because it just made me MAD. I can accept that to buy the best meat (pastured & local) I need to specifically purchase it from a small farm, but the beef that most people buy in stores should at least be decent- not outright dangerous.

According to the article, at least 1/2 of all beef cows in the U.S. slaughtered for food are treated with synthetic hormones (melengesterol, zeranol, or trenbolone) or natural hormones (testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone). As expected, the hormones cause weight gain in the cows, resulting in more meat to sell and thus higher profitability per cow.

Of course, the FDA claims that the hormone levels used are safe, but like many of their hap-hazard decisions, where is the data to back it up? In fact, Dr. Samuel Epstein from the Cancer Prevention Coalition stated that processed beef is not even checked for hormone residues. How do you like that?

Unfortunately, as you might guess, the additions of hormones to beef can affect the hormone levels in our bodies when it is consumed (especially in large quantities). The article also states that exposure to hormones such as in beef can lead to (surprise!) cancer and reproductive problems. The reproductive problems especially make sense since these are sex hormones being given to cows. It is unbelievable what we are doing to children by feeding this to them at a young age and through their developing years.

Another point that really sets me off is a direct quote from the article “Women in the United States are five times more likely to get breast cancer than women in the European Community or other countries that have banned the production or importation of hormonal beef.” I’m so glad the FDA is watching out for us here- NOT.

Why should we have to suffer because the necessary rules and regulations for food safety are not in place? I’d rather have beef shortages and turn to an alternate source of protein before consuming a food that will likely cause cancer! But, of course, cancer is a $200 billion industry/year worldwide (I’m betting the U.S. makes up a good chunk of this) so if our food was actually safe, this industry sure would suffer.

All in all, issues like this make me very grateful for small, local farms who truly care about the meat they are supplying to consumers. The value of having access to natural, pastured beef cannot be underestimated and is truly becoming a necessity considering the modern beef industry.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Shane March 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

These are all many common misconceptions on beef. Just a few things to consider when you say our beef is not safe.

The growth promotants used in cattle production are vigorously tested by the FDA for safety – both for the animals’ well-being and for the trace amounts that may be in meat consumed by humans – and have been approved as safe.

· There is a three-level threshold process that creates an enormous margin of safety to protect human health:

1. It begins by identifying a level at which no effect on human health is seen in research studies.

2. To that level, FDA adds a margin of safety (essentially taking the no-effect level and multiplying it many times over.)

3. And the final threshold is at the production level where the level used in cattle is far less than the margin of safety FDA sets.

· As an example, FDA has set a tolerance on estrogen levels in beef from cattle receiving an estrogen-containing implant. The safe level is 21 billionths of a gram. On average, a serving of beef actually has a fraction of that allowable level (.3 billionths of a gram) nearly 57,000 times lower than what the FDA allows, and thousands of times lower than what our bodies naturally produce, not to mention a fraction of what is present in many other foods such as soybean oil, cabbage, cereals and grains.

· The scientific conclusions of the FDA, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the world’s food safety body, indicate that the miniscule amount of estrogen in beef from cattle receiving implants is well below any level that would be of significance to humans.

· In most instances, estrogen levels in beef from implanted cattle are so low, that it’s virtually impossible to detect. Consequently the data illustrates the use if estrogen-containing implants has no impact on humans.

Whitney March 26, 2010 at 12:18 pm

I am glad you question where the data is. The link below will show you two different studies:


As you’ll see the research compares beef from with and without the implants (which have less than a 1.0ng difference in a 3-ounce serving.) You’ll also find other foods with substantially higher levels. It also notes that a woman’s daily birth control pill contains 35,000ng of estrogen. So is it the beef we should really be worried about?

I value your choice, and most importantly I value our freedom to choose what we consume. It is my hope that we can look at all sides of an issue and make sure we’re using sound science to establish our opinions. Lastly, I trust the dedication of America’s farmers and cattle ranchers to provide my family with safe and wholesome beef. Afterall, these folks are producing food not only for our families but for their own loved ones, too.

Michelle March 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Hi Shane,

I certainly appreciate your opinion, but unfortunately have to disagree with you. Although http://www.beefmyths.org/beefmyths/cattlegrowthhormones/ provides a large amount of information on this topic, I can’t quite seem to tell where their information is coming from, or who is funding the site.

What I can tell is that the FDA has been flaky in many of their regulations; I’m not sure if you had read this article http://openeyehealth.wpengine.com/2008/12/baby-formula-you-cant-trust/, but it shows another example of their “safe” and trustworthy decision making and it’s potential impact on humans.

I would love to trust that all food sold in grocery stores is helpful rather than harmful, but I do not believe it is possible at this time. Luckily, we all have the freedom to choose where to purchase our meat. Thanks again for sharing on this topic!

Michelle March 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Hi Whitney!

Thank you for also adding information to this discussion. You bring up a good point of safety issues elsewhere, such as birth control pills. That’s not something I’ve blogged about yet, but really does pose another question to women’s safety and how it is being monitored. I truly hope that you are right about America’s farmers and cattle ranchers, but sometimes money seems like it can take precedence over everything. Once again, thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinion!

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