T Nation

Estrogens in Milk & Eggs...


For all the talk about chickens being given E, and cows being impregnated immediately after birth so that they start lactating again, and how this fills the milk with E... And many of us eat MANY eggs and drink a lot of milk...so that E could really screw us up...


That E isn't 17-alpha-alkylated... as such, the liver breaks it down, and so it doesn't affect us...



I thought chicken was regulated so that no hormones are allowed to be given?


You're right.



if you're eating fattier cuts (thighs) there will be some crap in there


thats why i buy organic. and extra couple bucks is worth it


They may or they may not be. I think the regulations might differ depending on country. Also, the laws might not be enforced.

I heard something along the lines "a tiny bit of extra E can increase egg production by up to 40%"...

So... does our liver break down the hormones in animal products, or doesn't it?


Yes, your liver will still have to process toxins that are passed through the digestive system. Of course there could be some flesh that doesn't get completely broken down, but as you can imagine, it's always best to choose organic, free range meats whenever possible. Not only for the consumers health and wellbeing, but also for the animals.

What would your choice be? Eating meat from an animal raised in large pastures, grazing on natural grass, and living its life in a calm environment vs. meat from animals that are raised in small pens, being treated terribly (even tortured), fed all kinds of hormones and antiboitics just to keep it alive until it grows large enough to slaughter, and living its life full of stress. It's pretty obvious.


Greg, and others:

Where I live, organic tends to cost between 2 to 4x as much as conventional. If I were to eat "certified organic", I'd starve. Literally.

But this is not the problem in question. Neither is it whether the law allows giving hormones to animals.

The friggin' question is whether those hormones affect us, since they're not in the form hormones-to-be-taken-orally should be.


Yes, they can affect you...especially over time.
Here's a quote from Environment Health Perspective: "Recently it has been found that a variety of exogenous modern chemical compounds have hormone-like effects on both humans and wildlife. Their interference with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body can change the homeostasis, reproduction, development, and/or behavior the same as endogenous produced hormones."

In simple terms, over time it can affect your own body's hormone production. Also, rBGH that is often found in milk products have been shown to cause cancer. That's why you'll see the healthier proteins on the market say "rBGH free."

I was thinking about the "spill-over" effect today driving home from the gym. We all can get away with ingesting somewhat unhealthy things through the course of our lives...like basic meats (with hormones in them) and foods with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavorings, etc. But then there comes a time when the cup becomes full and you get spill-over. When this happens things begin to ache, you get more inflammation in the body, organs, adrenals, and hormones begin to break down. That's when disease happens. For some people it may be in their 30's, 40's or 50's...but the truth is that it didn't happen overnight.

I totally understand about cost! You've got to pick and choose your battles. Maybe stick with cage free chickens and eggs, eat non-organic veggies that aren't on the "dirty dozen" list and choose only organic for the important ones. Stuff like that.

It's all about finding that balance and what works for you and your budget.


Not to quibble, but organic meat doesn't necessarily mean the animals got more humane treatment. All it means is that the grain fed to them was organically grown. In the case of chickens, they might still have been packed in a pen like sardines their entire lives. And for cows, they should not have been eating grain at all, organic or otherwise. But grass-fed beef is even more expensive and harder to find, I know.

Food companies also play fast and loose with terms like "cage-free." I've heard that often just means the chickens have an access door to a tiny patch of dirt outdoors. Sort of like a prisoner who gets one hour in the yard each day.

I'm far from a PETA type, but sometimes the whole intensive agriculture issue bothers me. That said, very few of us have the money, connections, or time to eat only foods raised as nature intended. So you have to pick your battles. One place to start is going organic with butter and coffee. (I heard that tip from Poliquin years ago.) With fattier meats (toxins concentrate in the fat), try to go opt for grass fed organic at least some of the time. Also, whenever I read farm-raised on a package of fish, I steer clear of it. They feed those fish garbage and then do stuff like add red food coloring to salmon to make it look pink and healthy instead of a sickly gray.


You're right on here! In the end you hope that free range, grass fed really means what they say, although you can read about certain livestock farms online and see their products at Whole Foods and other natural markets. Again...in the end they are expensive which brings us full circle and back to square one from the top of the post!


Hi Gregg, just wanted to say that I'm glad to see you posting here. I always liked your contributions to Mens Health


Thanks a lot bud. It's been great working with Men's Health through the years!


Well everyones talking about the chickens, so I'll just end that cow thing now. I really do not know whether they impregnate the cow immediately after it gives birth to make it lactate, but I do know that this would be a stupid thing to do. Milk production is a positive feedback loop, so as long as you keep milking them, they keep producing milk.

Once birth happens, the body start producing milk (through complex processes I doubt anyone here really cares about). Stimulating the mechanoreceptors in the nipple not only signals the release of oxytocin to eject milk, but also stimulate prolactin release which stimulates milk production. As long as you keep milking, it keeps being produced, so there is no need to impregnate the cows again, so this sounds like a myth to me.



Yep, I knew this applies to most any mammal, including humans, and was really curious as to how and why it wouldn't apply to cows. Thanks