Ah milk, the delicious drink that helps us grow Ė although some argue that itís helping us grow too much. Dairy products are excellent ways to get the calcium and protein you need every day, and there isnít anything better with a cookie than a cold glass of milk. But many are starting to wonder if the hormones used to make bigger, better cows who produce bigger better milk supplies is starting to do bigger, not-so-better things to children, particularity girls.
Milk and Menses
There is increasing speculation that the growth hormones fed to cows are coming through the milk these cows produce in both milk and beef products. The growth hormones arenít making us taller, per se. They are making us start menstruating earlier Ė according to speculation. In fact, all of puberty seems to be speeding up a bit for many girls, and growth hormones are a very natural place to look when it comes time for answers.
The Growth Hormone
While the debate rages on, there is not substantive proof of growth hormones speeding along puberty for girls. What is known is this: Bovine growth hormone, or bovine somatotropin (also called bGH, rbGH, bST, or bST), is given to cows to make them grow faster and produce more milk. The growth hormone has been banned in Canada and Europe, but the Food and Drug Administration in the US along with the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services say that the hormone is perfectly fine for human consumption as it is broken down in the human digestive tract. Critics of the hormone claim further testing is needed to determine if it is really safe.
The documented concerns are not just speculation about earlier periods, but also the fact that cows injected with the hormone get sick more often and need large bouts of antibiotics to get well. Those antibiotics do pass through the milk and can make it into your body. This is no big deal, but it can mean that bacteria develops that is resistant to the antibiotics. This super-bacteria makes it much harder to kick future infections. Another concern is that a related growth hormone produced by the injected cows can transfer to humans where some say it increases the chances of certain cancers.
But The Good Stuff!
There is certainly not only bad news about milk, especially as the bad news is still up for debate. The good news is that milk is an awesome source of just about everything your body needs every day Ė itís like a meal by itself. Calcium, protein, vitamins and more can be found in a cold glass of milk, and including skim dairy products in your diet is a great way to keep your bones strong (as calcium gets depleted over time) and stay trim.
If youíre concerned about the potential risks of growth hormones in milk, but donít want to overlook the benefits it can provide in your every day diet, consider switching to organic milk Ė just be sure itís pasteurized. You can also keep an eye out for milk labeled "rbGH-free." This label is not required, and milk without a label might or might not contain the growth hormone.