Effects of Hormones in Our Food

In 2006 our world’s human population was approximately 6. 7 billion. It is projected to increase to 9. 2 billion by 2050. With this many people in the world you need a substantial amount of food to feed them. But, this leads to a problem in the food industry. Animals do not grow fast enough in order to meet these high demands. In order to compensate for the lack of supply of food the farmers need to somehow make their animals grow faster. For the solution they introduced the use of hormones. These hormones include estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengesterol acestate.

Some of these hormones are found naturally in humans and some are synthetic growth promoters. But, is it safe for these foods to be consumed by people; and do they have any effects on our bodies? First, let’s define the term hormone. Hormones are chemicals that are produced naturally by our bodies and in the bodies of animals. They are released into our blood by the organs that produce them and they travel to different parts of the body. They affect body functions such as growth, development and reproduction. So how are these hormones beneficial to food producers?

Well, they improve the meat quality, increase feed efficiency, reduce costs for producers, increase slaughter time and increase animal growth cycles; to name a few. Let’s take a closer look at the specific hormones used in this industry. Estradiol, in the human body, is a form of estrogen, a female sex hormone produced by the ovaries. Estradiol is used to treat symptoms of menopause, prevention of osteoporosis, replacement of estrogen in women with ovarian failure and sometimes used as a cancer treatment. Progesterone is used to cause menstrual periods in women.

It is also used to prevent overgrowth in the lining of the uterus. Testosterone is a sex hormone that is produced in male testicles. It is used to treat conditions in males such as delayed puberty, impotence, or other hormonal imbalances. Is it also used in women to treat breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Zeranol is a potent nonsteroidal growth promoter that mimics many of the effects of estradiol. It is used extensively in the United States and Canada to promote rapid and more efficient growth rates in animals.

Trenbolone Acetate is a potent androgen that produces very strong anabolic activity. It is primarily used to buildup muscle mass. Melengestrol acetate is a synthetic progestin used primarily for the suppression of estrus in heifers; it also helps animals to gain weight faster and limit the amount of feed eaten. Yes, all these hormones prove to be beneficial to producers in many ways. But, our society today is focused on eating at fast food restaurants and eating lots of meat products. These hormones used are usually still detectable in the meat that we consume.

Now ask yourself; how much meat do you eat in a week? A month? A year? Think about how much of those hormones you are ingesting into your body. Yes, they are at low levels but if you eat these products constantly on a regular basis your body is being exposed to a high amount of these hormones which can alter your body functions. For example, according to the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health, estradiol and progesterone are considered probable carcinogens.

Estrogen has been linked to breast cancer in women and testosterone with prostate cancer in men. Progesterone has been found to increase the growth of ovarian, breast and uterine tumors. Expert D. Lindsey Berkson, author of Hormone Deception, worry that hormones in food could be at least partly responsible for early puberty. The average age for a girl’s fist period is now between 12. 5 to 12. 9 for Caucasian girls and around 12. 2 for African American girls; which are significantly younger than previous years.

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