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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Girls, Prepubescence, and Hormones in Food

This morning on the Today Show, while I was getting ready to leave for work, I listened to a piece on 'tweens and the clothing in stores as they all shop for back to school.  It was about how the clothing for young girls looks like stuff for teenagers. And the stuff for teenagers and junior sizes looks like women's now. 

It should come as no surprise, America.  After all, look at what we've been feeding kids: hormones that are causing puberty to happen prematurely, particularly in young girls (the hormones contain estrogen).  That's right, synthetic sex hormones.  Just because the FDA decides it's safe doesn't always mean it is.  There's a lot of long-term study they can't possibly do with new stuff.  Guess what?  We get to be their guinea pigs!

What are the dangers?  Well, aside from cutting a girl's childhood short, early puberty in girls has been found to be associated with a higher risk for breast and other forms of cancer. Children, pregnant women and the unborn are thought to be most susceptible to negative health effects. [1]

Where's it coming fromBeef milk [2] (A 2007 USDA Dairy Survey estimated rBGH use in 17.2% of cows)
Thankfully, other dangerous growth hormones used in chicken have now been banned [3].  (Then why are chickens today so much bigger than the ones I used to eat as a kid!?  Well, chickens bred for meat [4] are much larger than the ones raised for eggs.)
Apparently we (the US) are still giving hormones to our beef cows which Europe has banned. American beef itself is banned in Europe because of it. [5]

In China, Bovine growth hormones are fed to cows to accelerate their rate of growth. Unfortunately, these hormones are also affecting the babies being fed formulas made from the milk of these cows. Bovine growth hormones are permitted in China because there's no law against them. It is causing infants to have levels of estrogen as high as would be expected in adult women, resulting in infants growing breasts!

Hmmm, you don't see much on the growth hormones being used on pigs.  Apparently pigs naturally already have elevated levels of antibodies and growth hormones.[6]  Pork should therefore no longer be any more harmful to human health than these other genetically-altered animals.
And we wonder what's so wrong the "western" diet - this all leads to inflammation which is one of the top 4 causes for aging.[7]  But, I digress...

What to do about it I guess we'll have to swap to organic dairy and meat products for the kids.  And for ourselves, if we can afford it.  Good luck with that.  Many of us can't afford to shop at Whole Paycheck.

Also, see these great resources and tips:

"There are many small family farmers who don’t use artificial hormones on their animals. By purchasing your milk and meat from local, sustainable farms, you are supporting a system that ensures the health and welfare of the farm animals, and protects you and your family from hormone-related health risks.
  • Choose hormone-free beef and rBGH-free dairy products at the supermarket. Foods that carry the “USDA-certified organic” label cannot contain any artificial hormones. When purchasing sustainably raised foods without the "organic" label, be sure to check with the farmer to ensure no additional hormones have been administered.
  • Visit the Eat Well Guide for an online listing of stores, restaurants and producers that sell hormone-free meat and dairy products.
  • Use Sustainable Table and Food and Water Watch’s rBGH-free dairy list to find a list of rBGH-free brands available in your state."[8]