April 9th, 2008
12:51 PM ET

Hormones in milk

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

Ever since we had our two daughters, my wife has been insistent on buying organic milk. She looks specifically for milk free of added growth hormone, or more specifically free of rBST, recombinant bovine somatotropin. It's more expensive, sometimes more than double the price, and I was never quite sure if it makes any difference. Still, I understand her concern.


Well, Wal-Mart does too apparently. The company recently announced that its store brand milk will come solely from cows free of artificial growth hormone, which is given to cows to increase milk production. They join Kroger, Safeway, Publix and Starbucks, to name a few. The change seems to be fueled mainly by public concerns rather than specific science.

As we investigated this story, I found that most of the peer-reviewed science out there does not support a link between hormones in milk and cancer, nor with early puberty in girls, which is a widely circulated concern. Common sense, my wife tells me should prevail. "How could artificial hormones possibly be good for a growing child?" she asks the way only a mom can ask.

Often times, I am left without a response. "But, the science..." I say in vain. But, she's already off to the grocery store to buy more.

I guess the good news is that the price of milk free of growth hormones will probably come down, given the movement and more offering of this type of milk. But, still, is it worth it?

Check out an AC 360 take on hormone-free milk.

Editor’s Note:  Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

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  1. Eli Fink MD

    Of far greater concern is the known infestation of the majority of U.S. dairy cow herds with Bovine Leukemia Virus and Bovine Immunodeficiency Virus (aka Bovine AIDS virus). Bovine Leukemia virus been shown to pass to, and cause leukemia in other species, including chimpanzees. In one study (U.C. Berkely, 1996) 10 out of 23 human breast cancer tissue samples tested positive for Bovine Leukemia Virus. Don't take my word for it, do your own search.

    April 9, 2008 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Scott

    Knowing that a person could develop the disease "might" casue them to alter their lifestyle. I doubt many would.
    For me i livea healthy lifestyle (diet and exercise). I would not wantot know that a potential debilitating disease or "death sentance" was in my future.

    April 9, 2008 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Christine

    Because they have YET not shown a link between hormones in milk and cancer or early puberty, does not mean that it will not reveal itself in another 10 or 20 years. Why take that risk?? Wake up and use common sense, Dr. Gupta - your wife is smarter than you.

    April 9, 2008 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. P S

    I lived outside of India till 10 years back. Only after moving to the US, I started having lactose intolerance. Also, I went to Italy for a month last year and India for a month this year, and never experienced lactose intolerance during those months..Makes me wonder if its the hormones that has caused lactose intolerance...

    April 9, 2008 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. P S

    Change to the comment above- I lived outside of US till 10 years back. Only after moving to the US, I started having lactose intolerance. Also, I went to Italy for a month last year and India for a month this year, and never experienced lactose intolerance during those months..Makes me wonder if its the hormones that has caused lactose intolerance...

    April 9, 2008 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Stef

    "I found that most of the peer-reviewed science out there does not support a link between hormones in milk and cancer, nor with early puberty in girls, which is a widely circulated concern. "

    -How about just the fact that it's gross? Can that be a valid reason for buying the other stuff? It seems to me it's a good thing that people are concerned enough about what is put in their food that even Wal-Mart is paying attention.

    April 9, 2008 at 19:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. matthew

    Humans are the only species that continue to drink milk after they reach adulthood. Many milk alternative free of hormones or antibiotics are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D. The prices on these substitutes which are ofen organic are comparable to hormone and antibiotics fortified milk. soy and rice milk are two substitutes. They are also lower in saturated fats and higher in plant sterols known for lowering cholesterol. Next time you go to the supermarket consider the Slogan. Soy milk today less hormones effecs tomorrow.

    April 9, 2008 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Cindy

    My daughter is now 20, but I remember when she was 9 years old I was speaking with my ob/gyn and I commented that she was already developing breasts, and generally just looking more mature than her 9 years. He explained to me there was currently a lot of discussion in the medical field about growth hormones, preservatives in our food supply that affected children's growth and maturity patterns. I have read a lot about it and I am convinced that it is true. That was 1996 and its still an unanswered issue in 2008!
    As a parent, you don't want to push your children into growing up too fast, to keep them sweet and innocent as long as possible – but when the body develops faster than their emotional maturity, it is very, very challenging.

    April 9, 2008 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Grace

    I am wondering how they do such studies when pretty much everyone in this country has drank milk from cows treated with hormones for long periods of time.

    And why would no link with cancer mean that it's not harmless in another way? And how do you really study a possible link with cancer unless you follow the children until around age 60?

    Are we assuming that it would show up as early puberty if it caused a problem? How do we know that it doesn't cause some problem later in life?

    We are concerned with any drugs being taken by nursing mothers. So, what's the difference with cows?

    There is science, but it is limited to what it has studied. If I flip over two rocks and don't find a lizard, can I assume that there are no lizards under the billions of other rocks on earth?

    April 9, 2008 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. P.S.

    Should we go through the history of medical science and examine all the examples of where science has gone wrong, from lobotomies to well, a more recent and relevant example which you have blogged about:

    Less HRT may be the key to less breast cancer

    Yes, it is a different hormone, and a different method of exposure. My memory may not be right here, but I seem to recall not too long ago when women were being told that HRT would lower their risk of cancer and heart disease, and now they say the opposite.

    April 9, 2008 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Alicia

    I say , why the debate? If it makes your wife feel safer, then buy the milk. If there is a chance that she is right, then the organic milk is beneficial. If she is wrong, then the organic milk is not hurting anything. Better safe than sorry. "Studies" are not always foolproof, and sometimes what we think is common public knowledge is totally incorrect. For example, cocaine was once used as an ingredient in a particular brand of soda... They thought that was harmless too, at the time. It doesn't hurt to err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to the health of our children.

    April 9, 2008 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Hilde

    Why does Europe and Canada forbid the use of the growth hormone
    Doesn't that tell us something?

    Hormones mean more milk, which means more money. We are a profit oriented society......

    April 10, 2008 at 06:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bee

    Here's the issue with rBST/BGH: it causes an increase in hormones that cause lactation (especially estrogens & progesterones) in the cow – that's how BST increases milk output. There's strong evidence that these hormones can be passed on in milk – it's just in the veterinary and food science literature, not the medical literature. I switched to milk from a local organic dairy about 3 years ago, and in that time the reproductive system problems that had been chronic since I was 13 (including ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids) have all decreased considerably. Yes, I'm only a sample size of one (and it's possible that the decrease in symptoms is age related but I'm only 33 so this isn't menopause), but my experience, and my knowledge of how hormones work (btw, I am a biology professor) have convinced me to avoid milk from cows that get BST. If I had kids I sure would keep them away from the BST too.

    April 10, 2008 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Todd

    I find the following statement that Dr Gupta made interesting:

    "I found that most of the peer-reviewed science out there does not support a link between hormones in milk and cancer."

    "Most peer reviewed science" suggests that there are many scientists who do support this type of linkage. Who funded the research that found that there was not linkage? Is this something you investigated?

    Also, there is a well documented link between milk and it's additives and many of the diseases of "affluence" that we see in North America and much of the developped world. Why only worry about cancer?

    For some of this documentation please see much of Dr T. Colin Campbell's work and his book "The China Study".

    April 10, 2008 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Martin Burken

    I think this is crazy. This is nonsense! We are talking about an FDA approved drug that has been on the market for 14 years. There is no difference in the milk wether it be organic, rBST free, or regular. No added chemicals hormones or anything any of them. When you buy rBST free milk how do you know thats what you are getting? Who enforces the rBST laws?

    Do you people drive cars? Go on airplanes? Smoke? Eat junk food?
    All of these are hazards that we endure in life and we know people die from any one of these. But milk gets targetted when all the milk is the same. I am a dairy producer (farmer) I make a living milking cows. I have 3 skinny daughters 10, 9, and 4. None have reached puberty, none are overweight. Just normal. They drink 5 gallons of milk per week. I choose regular milk. I will not buy organic, free range, cage free, rBST free, or any of that other fancy labeled stuff. Just give me regular. I produce food and I help feed the world. I will be an advocate of producing food for the world as economically and safely as I can. As long as there are starving people in this world I will not have my job done. Getting rid of Biothecnology and advancements in agricilture is very self centered and racsist. "As long as I have food who cares about you Africans who are starving" I care. I have kids and I dont want to see anyone go hungry. The kids shouldnt go hungry if I can help them with advancements in agriculture.

    April 10, 2008 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Future MD

    This hormone everyone is so concerned about is a protein. Proteins start being broken down as soon as they mix with saliva, and between the acid in your stomach and enzymes in your intestine, there is NO hormone left pretty much as soon as it leaves your stomach. It does not get into your blood. It is a COW hormone, meaning even if you injected it into you, it would not be recognized by human cells. There's no harm in it shown by any science studies. People who pay more for milk to avoid it are throwing their money away.

    Antibiotics in milk, however, would be more concerning, but most antibiotics don't pass into the milk. Then again I'm willing to bet the people who spend three times as much on special milk are the same ones who insist on antibiotics for a cold, so why not skip a step and just get them in your milk?

    Like I always ask my mother- heroin is a natural product, does that mean it's good for you?

    April 10, 2008 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Athena

    I usually try not to comment on other comments since commenting isn't supposed to be used as a message board. However, I would like to ask Future MD to think beyond what he has already thought about, especially if he or she is a future MD.

    When we give cows hormones, can we assume that the only outcome variable that changes is the existence and amount of that hormone in the milk? Obviously, it increases milk production, hence the usage, but can we assume that it only changes quantity evenly, and not something else in the content of the milk?

    I hope that as a future MD, you realize how much homology there is across species, and the plethora of literature on that subject in general.

    As a future MD, you probably know that numerous hormones play an integral role in the digestive system. And their actions are not through being absorbed into the bloodstream. There are even hormones in saliva, though there has not yet been much literature on this, and I don't think anyone can presume to know the complete roles of hormones passing through the alimentary canal.

    There is actually quite a bit of literature on the enormous role different types of milk consumption plays in infants and young children's developing intestines and microbial flora, which is also where a large part of the immune system is. It's accepted knowledge that antibodies from milk are beneficial to infants, so if antibodies (also a protein) can have such a recognized effect, then why not hormones? Actually, it is also accepted knowledge that infants get hormones through mother's milk as well.

    And although heroin is bad for you, that doesn't provide any support for the idea that milk from hormone-treated cows is no different from naturally-produced milk. Unfortunately, that kind of argument is almost a non sequitor.

    In any case, the extra money spent by a family of four on organic milk versus non-organic milk adds up to about $50 per year. And organic or not, different brands can taste very different. Some have a funk, some taste like water, and some taste "sweet". Usually the cheaper ones have the funk. Just like most food and things, you pay for taste too.

    April 11, 2008 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Bee

    Mr. Burken, I understand your argument. All of my cousins on my father's side are dairy farmers, and the economic aspects are absolutely important. However, the effects of rBST appear to happen over a long period of time for the human milk consumer, so you may not see effects in your young daughters (as I'll explain below)

    Future MD, it's not about what rBST does to you (you're correct, it would be broken down in the stomach and consequently have little effect). In fact, rBST doesn't end up in the milk in any meaningful quantity – this has been thoroughly investigated. It's what it does to the cow. rBST can change the chemical makeup of the milk – increasing the amount of steroid hormones present. Unlike proteins, steroids are not degraded in the digestive tract but are absorbed directly across the mucosa of the stomach and duodenum. The higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can start having effects on humans at very low quantities (sub-micromolar, or for your non-scientists, less than one part per million), are the concern. We already are at risk for a variety of health problems, especially reproductive ones, because of the estrogen mimics that enter our bodies from plastics, herbicides, and lots of other chemicals that various government agencies have declared as safe for use. Being "generally recognized as safe", as the FDA test jargon goes, means that the chemical is not acutely toxic. However, the FDA has no way of testing the long-term effects of chronic low-dose exposure.

    As for antibiotics, yes, that would be more of a concern, but the USDA forbids dairy farmers from selling milk from cows who are on antibiotics for precisely that reason. The milk from an antibiotic-treated cow cannot be sold until the cow has been off the antibiotics for two weeks. By that point there would be no residual antibiotic in the milk (though antibiotic resistance in the bacteria living in and on the cow would persist, but pasteurization takes care of that for us).

    Please remember that science is an ongoing process, and it often takes a while for the studies to catch up with the products on the market. Drug recalls, from thalidomide in the early 70s to Avandia in the last year are strong evidence to suggest that just because the current literature doesn't show a drug to be problematic doesn't mean that the chemical is absolutely safe. After all, even the drugs on the market come with warnings about their side effects and contra-indications of who should not take the drug. Pharmaceutical chemistry is far from foolproof, and we need to be aware and informed in deciding what we want to put into our bodies.

    April 11, 2008 at 07:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Brad, Amarillo TX.

    There isn't any evidence of these hormones causing early puberty but there is good evidence that young girls that have high percentage of body fat (or a High BMI) have early puberty. It is easier for mommies to say "oh it must be the hormones in milk and not the fact that my little girl has a weight problem." Then all she has to do is buy different milk instead of dealing with the weight issue. There is good evidence that the hormone estrogen becomes stored in body fat. The more body fat, the earlier the onset of puberty.

    April 11, 2008 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jordan

    The homrones in milk can cause serious problems for girls. My 13 year old daughter decided to increase her consumption of milk to about 3 glasses because during a routine check up the doctor asked about how much dairy product was she consuming. I spent time and thousands of dollars at the doctor's office trying to figure out why her menstural cycles had changed to every other week vs once a month. They concluded that she had a hormone inbalance, but never mentioned the milk as a problem. I decided on my own that she should decreased the amount of milk to only 1 glass a week, and the problem went away about 3 weeks later. I wish I had known how bad the hormones in milk can be.

    April 11, 2008 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Bill

    I,m a dairy farmer and I want to share my 2 cents worth on the rbst issue.

    I believe that the product is safe for the cow and the milk from cows supplimented with rbst is as safe as any milk being sold today, exception being raw unpastuerized milk.

    The FDA took 10 years to test rbst effects on cows and humans and found it to be safe. At the time rbst was the most tested and studied substance ever. Much longer than many durgs on the market today.

    rbst has been on the market for 14 years. As far as I know there have been no ill effects from drinking milk or consuming any dairy products that has come from cows supplimented with rbst.

    The cows health and wellbeing is not impacted negatively as long as she is feed appropriately and housed in comfortable conditions.

    I think the real issue here is money. Marketers have found a way to charge more for a third kind of milk I call organic lite or rsbt free. This milk costs more than conventional but less than organic. Remeber all milk is safe but with some innovative labeling marketers have found a way to play on consumers fears and get them to pay more more for nothing.

    The American Farm Bureau latest national survey of milk prices
    found that there was a 90 cent difference between a gallon of conventioal milk and a gallon of rbst free milk, rbst being higher priced.

    Dairy farmer are paid by the hundred weight (cwt.) of milk. Using 90 cents as the average difference in price between conventional and rbst free the retailer is charging $22.50 more for a cwt. of rbst free milk than conventional.

    Dairy farmers that product rbst free milk are paid a premium. This amount differs around the nation but the average that the farmers actually receives is in the 50 cents per cwt. range.

    The extra costs in procuring rbst free milk is about 5% more than conventional milk or about $1.00 more per cwt.

    So if we take the 50 cent premium paid to the dairy farmer and $1.00 more cost in handling away from the $22.50 difference it comes out to $21.00 dollars more that the retailer is making for a cwt. of rbst free milk than conventional milk.

    I might be just a simple dairy farmer but it should not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the retailers will continue to take advantage of the debate going on about the safety of milk. They are doing this for the money and not consumer demand. I'm sure they hope to create a demand.

    The people that lose because of this fear marketing are the consumers and the dairy farmer. The consumers will pay more and the dairy framer loses a perfectly safe technology and is wondering what will be next .

    The retailer is probably laughing all the way to the bank!!

    Milk is Milk

    April 11, 2008 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mark Lambert

    What I find to be a disturbing trend is people seem to have an emotional need to believe in conspiracies.

    So the word of the FDA, Dr. Gupta and a scientific majority is cast aside for "gut feelings" and annecdotal evidence from people on message boards like this.

    Please just keep in mind that the internet is just about the worse source of information in human history. There are ZERO validity checks and there is ZERO accountability. It is great for affirming what "you believe" though because no matter WHAT you believe, you can find SOMEONE on the internet confirming "its true!"

    I feel sympathy for the folks on here that have had medical issues (genuine sympathy) and they have a right to go off half cocked and swear until the end that "it was the milk!", but I'm going to have to go with the prepondrance of scientific evidence.

    Yes over the years science has sometimes been wrong. But let me challenge you with this. How often has blind ignorance been wrong? Because thats what totally unsubstantiated belief in something is – or even belief in something substantiated ENTIRELY by annecdotal evidence.

    So on the wide side we have scientists called into question by folks with a "gut feeling" and a story they heard and the "evidence" offered is either "well, science is wrong a lot" or "I saw a website" or "I think this is what happened with my kid"

    Sorry, but there is really only one side arguing science in this debate. If it is so clear that there is genuine risk from milk, dont disparage Dr Gupta – PROVE it. And links to crackpot websites laden with links to either extremist crackpot websites aren't "proof". Links to the anti-milk crusade (yes, there is one amazingly) isn't "proof". Ask a real university to do a real study and see if it conflicts. Or ask a consumer interest group.

    I really fear that with the advent of the internet, information is growing at a staggering rate but real knowledge (and certainly critical thinking) is in danger of extinction.

    April 11, 2008 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Rick North

    As project director for the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility's Campaign For Safe Food, I've put in hundreds of hours of study on the science of rBGH (rBST). We've also put in the same amount of scrutiny on the history and politics of this genetically engineered hormone.

    Based on this, we've led a nationwide public education campaign advising consumers to avoid rBGH dairy products based on demonstrated harm to cows and very real health concerns to humans. We're not alone – most industrialized nations of the world have banned rBGH use and the Codex Alimentarius, the U.N.'s main food safety body, determined there was no consensus that rBGH was safe for human health.

    Health Care Without Harm, a coaltion of over 460 organizations promoting safe and healthy practices in hospitals, has issued a formal position statement opposing rBGH. Over 110 hospitals all over the country have already signed a pledge committing to going rBGH-free.

    We believe the FDA never should have approved rBGH in the first place and that the agency has ignored even more scientific data that has been reported since its approval.

    We encourage everyone to check out our website at http://www.oregonpsr.org – Campaign For Safe Food to see our video and our Know Your Milk brochure. (Note: these links are down until 4/17 for website maintenance.)There are also three short videos on YouTube which can be found by searching milk hormones.

    Unfortunately, Dr. Gupta's segment contained several factual errors (i.e. there have actually been hundreds of studies linking IGF-1 to cancer in humans) that I've pointed out to him. Moreover, there is significant scientific data showing that elevated levels of most IGF-1 promoted by rBGH use does indeed survive digestion because of the presence of casein, the main milk hormone.

    The more people know about rBGH, the more they avoid it. If anyone would like more information, please feel free to contact me at Oregon PSR.

    April 12, 2008 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Tom

    amazing stuff, as a dairy farmer I can asure you the sky is not falling, If I had to pick one food to support my diet it would most definetly be milk. Any milk Organic, conventional 1% 2% whole, fit your activity level and be assured that the milk is safe. Our whole family dinks 1 gal./ day, or more and yes we suppliment our cows with rbST for 14 years, by the way my daughter is 14 and is just fine. along with my 15 year old son are at the top of their cross country team.

    April 12, 2008 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Patti Shinn

    I have read this blog with interest. We are dairy farmers and take pride in providing quality milk to the US consumers and to the rest of the world. We treat our cows with great care, respect, making sure they are comfortable, receive quality forages, and have access to clean water. We have also in the past utilized the approved technology Posilac, aka rBST. We in no way would have used this technology if we even thought it would be harmful to our animals, as well as to humans. The scientific research tells you the facts.

    I will add to others' comments. A cow injected with rBST has an increased appetite. This allows her to be healthier after calving as getting on feed is important. With this increased appetite her body more efficiently produces milk and she is healthier. Milk which is no different than when analyzed side by side of 'rBST-free' or organic.

    I understand the concern of mothers out there, as I have two small boys. We drink 4 gallons of milk each week. But you can't make decisions based on pure fear and emotion. Do you continue to use cell phones when there is talk about brain tumors? Do you feed your children processed foods, diet drinks, and let them have toys "MADE IN CHINA"? These are areas I as a mother I am concerned.

    From an environmental standpoint, cows given rBST have a 'smaller hoof' print. Six cows can do the job of seven in providing milk for the USA and the rest of the world. Less cows and the use of rBST enable farmers to protect the environment – less cows, less manure, less acres needed to produce feed, less fossil fuels used in harvesting this feed.

    For Hilde – Europe and Canada have both confirmed the findings that rBST is safe for humans (as indicated from the science lesson above). Canada and Europe have quoted systems to control the supply of milk production. Also, the U.S. Dairy Export Council says, "There are no import restrictions by any country for dairy products from the United States where cows are supplemented with rBST."

    I stood in a WalMart a month ago for 15 minutes, watching customer select milk. 100% of the 10 customers that pulled milk from the dairy case went directly to price – the conventional milk (WalMart brand, not yet rBST-free) was on sale. There was organic milk and Country Fresh which was 'rBST'free". Not a gallon of either were selected. Yes, this isn't a scientific study, but it is telling. The majority of consumers buy on price. They had a choice and it was clear in this 'study'. The consumer driven concept??- why then is the organic milk market approximately 2% of milk consumed.

    Therefore, consumer demand isn't driving this issue, it is corporate sustainability. Grocery Retailers make more money on organic and 'rBST-free' milk. In the example above, if a premium of .50cents per hundred weight or 0.04 cents a gallon is given to farmers for non-use of rBST, and the milk sells for 0.90cents more a gallon, the Grocery Retailer makes an additional 0.86 cents per gallon..

    Hummmmm, fear, it is a beautiful money maker. We produce 4,000 gallons a day. On our milk alone, the Grocery Retailer is making $3,440 more each day – paid by you, the consumer.

    Thanks for your time.....

    April 12, 2008 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. colleen fenimore

    i truly believe that due to the hormones and other medications in our water and milk is causing these teens to become more high strung and angry which is causing these teens to fight and become more violent and aggressive.

    April 13, 2008 at 07:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Kaysey

    I understand most people's concern about milk. However, I am of the thought that there are MUCH more pressing issues than the POSSIBLE health risk of milk from rBST treated cattle. I completely agree with Brad from Amarillo, Tx. I think everyone should concentrate on America's weight problem. America's obesity rate increases and (surprise, surprise) so does a plethora of other health problems (such as early onset of puberty). Remember, the most obvious answer is usually the right one.

    April 14, 2008 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Gita

    Bless Martin's kids(& all the kids in the world) to lead a healthy life throughout their life.

    More than 3 decades, I have been drinking milk and never experienced lactose intolerance either in US or in India. I am on the slim side. Of course I do lot of exercise and other household chores. I used to drink full fat but switched over to 2%, since last two years, for the simple reason that growth rate of muscle mass stops after 40 for females.

    I buy both regular(mostly) and organic milk(at times) and make my own yogurt. As a vegetarian, being very sensitive to taste & smell(i don't consume onion,garlic,mushroom and other so called vegetarian vegetables), I can give an affidavit that there is no difference between the two versions of milk.

    Many people waste and throw food products when there are so many children, around the world, starving for food. I don't like wasting so I buy regular milk as a matter of convenience(not cost) as the expiry date is longer than that of organic & give that extra $amount I would spend on organic, to Children's organization(needy children).

    Cows naturally produce this hormone and it increases the milk production by 10%. Any small farmer can start a business as there are no upfront costs unlike some other agri businesses. Main advantage of cattle reduction, using supplements, is long term effect on global warming. The cattle produces methane gas which is more harmful than CO2. DNA technology has helped US in reducing the pesticides in million of gallons!

    Milk and yogurt are neutral pH. Don't forget that all mammals first drink mother's milk! Hence milk(from spiritual point also) is conducive to develop composure/calmness as opposed to violence. All the violence starts because of the consumption other foods.

    Why people freak out only wrt milk when they are already consuming other foods and drugs which are produced using genetic engg. My cousin sister gives me an advice to stop buying regular milk and switch over to organic and she drinks organic milk and she is fat! In her case, it's genetic but she conveniently puts the blame on an MAb based drug called Enbrel which fights Rheumatoid Arthritis. My cousin developed Juvenile RA. The drug only adds flavor to the already existing condition. To top it off, she hardly does any exercise.

    Here in US, people spend half their lifetime in driving! Many lead a stressful, sedantary lifestyle and eat out most of the time. This sums up why girls & boys(under 15) are becoming overweight for their age.

    Leptin, a protein produced by the leptin(LEP) gene, plays a role in regulating th adipose tissue mass and body weight. Scientists have identified multiple genes associated with obesity. Apart from genetics, environment & lifestyle also play a role. There is also a study on the correlation between leptin related obesity to lymphoma(non-hodgkin)

    Far more toxins naturally occur in plants, as their defense mechanism, to worry about than any pesticides and rBST.

    Exercise is a must for the body as well as the mind.

    April 14, 2008 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Denise Richter

    I would like to re-emphasize what the other dairy farmers have said here. I would also like to address the concerns of those who feel there are "extras" in milk that was produced by a cow that was supplemented with rbST. If there truly were "extras" (i.e. higher levels of IGF-1, etc.) you would be able to test for it. But since EVERYONE acknowledges that there is no test available that can determine which milk was produced with the use of rbST and which milk wasn't, you only need common sense to tell you that the milks are IDENTICAL!

    In addition to being a dairy farmer, I am also a mother. It took me 10 years of trying and numerous miscarriages before we finally had our beautiful baby girl, 18 years ago. So I don't need to tell you how protective I have been of her, and I never hesitated to serve her milk that was produced with the help of rbST.

    Vitamin D is a hormone that is added to milk, but no one says anything about that. Not all hormones are bad. We need hormones to survive. Please don't let these "scare mongers" needlessly separate you from your hard earned money. Let them know that you won't be intimidated by their scare tactics.

    April 14, 2008 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Kel

    If there is nothing wrong with rBST then why don't the companies put it on the labels?? It's because this drug has side effects and they (the dairy companies and the FDA) can't be held responsible if there's no way to trace it!!!!!

    You will find a lot of Monsanto employees (from the company who made this drug) on this website giving their two cents.

    If there was an adequate amount of testing done on this drug before it was released, I challenge anyone to show it or prove it, don't just say that it's out there, try to find it and you won't.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Angel

    Yes it's worth it. The problem with science is, it doesn't think. Just because science hasn't found a problem doesn't mean their isn't one. HOW can the hormones and chemicals be good for us. I have no money, but I do what I can to give my daughter the LEAST amount of by-products and chemicals. Come on people let's get it back to nature. It's the only way we can be sure that we are harming ourselfves and our childern. So science needs to stick to what it does know and stop thinking that it has the answers. After watching the news so closely the last two years about this stuff, that is the one think I am certain of science DOES not know.

    April 15, 2008 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Mark

    Well congratulations people who dont know anything about food science. The hormone rBST is called rBST because it is the EXACT same hormone naturally produced in cows except it is produced from bacteria (same process that makes rennet to coagulate cheese). When rBST was a new development the medical community was excited about the possibility of using a growth hormone for human medical problems. there were studies conducted on people with growth disabilities involving direct injection of rBST and guess what. NOTHING HAPPENED. BST is a cow hormone, it has no effect on humans and the concentration of BST in non- rBST milk and BST milk are the same. The hormone is kept within the cow (this is why cows dont have to be injected daily). just please think people before you try to make "scientific" arguments based on emotional or baseless opinions. An aside, why do people love "organic" foods. Organic means carbon containing compound. Benzene (carcinogen) is an ORGANIC compound.

    April 15, 2008 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mark

    and kel, For a drug to be approved for use in animals that produce food for human consumption the manufacturer is required to prove both safety and efficacy in the animal and safety in humans. Milk is one of the most highly regulated foods because nearly everyone drinks it. I guarantee that every person commenting on this article has drank milk from rBST treated cows in their lifetime, are you going to die or get cancer or have early puberty? no. rBST has been used for decades and when the dairy industry gets on top of these "organic" producers claiming their milk is safer the milk world will return to normal. also the "antibiotic free" claim on most organic milk cartons is unnecessary ALL MILK HAS NO ANTIBIOTICS, antibiotic testing is done by the milk tanker driver BEFORE the milk gets pumped into processing. If a farm tests positive for antibiotics they are responsible to pay for the lost milk.

    April 15, 2008 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Rhonda Langendoerfer

    I have recently been drinking the fruit juice MonaVie. It is incredible.
    After 1 month of drinking this I was able to give blood for the 1st time in 4 yrs.
    I was wondering what your thoughts were on the product.

    Please respond., Thank-you,Rhonda

    April 16, 2008 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Lauren

    Milk is just bad. Dairy cows are forced to produce 10x more milk than they are supposed to naturally. Milk has also been linked to ovarian and prostate cancer. There is also an enormous amount of saturated fat in cow’s milk (which can cause many health problems). Long-term consumption of milk can also lead to heart disease.

    Also, if you think about it....
    ...Cows Milk is meant for Cows....not Humans.

    If you google "milk, bad for you", hundreds of webpages will display with more information regarding this issue.

    Drink soy milk instead. It tastes better (once you find a brand that you like), costs less, and is much more nutritious.

    April 16, 2008 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Gita

    Sanjayji, thanks for this blog. I had a hearty laugh reading some articles(non-scientifically based). I thought I was watching Stephen Colbert live! Oh my God, from where do people get such crazy ideas about milk and science.

    Science doesn't think because it's matter! It's people who think and study science. If matter starts thinking, and hence moving & reacting, there will be tsunamis in everybody's house.

    Dairy farmers, please inform others(who are against rBST) how much it costs to buy a cow, so that they can buy it , milk their own cow and stop cribbing.

    Einstein: Only two things are infinite:Universe and human stupidity and I'm not sure about the former.

    April 16, 2008 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Keith

    I find it inteeresting that you consider the fact that Wal-Mart now has rBST free milk a reason to buy the product. The reason the Retailer sells the product is because they make a huge profit compared to bst milk. There is no additional cost to manufacture this milk. The only difference is the label. The farmer is getting maybe 5 to 10 cents more per gallon. The reason the Retailer is selling this product has nothing to do with your welfare but the fact that they can make more money on rbst free milk than regular milk.
    It also amazes me that organic milk buyers consider this a higher quality product. The fact is organic milk cows have a higher Somatic Cell count than other cows. Somatic Cell Count is the level of White blood cells in the milk. Which means these cows are not as healthy as other cows. So buyers are purchasing a product that tends to be lower in quality and from cows that are not as healthy as other cows. The majority of organic milk is also ultra high temp pasturized to give it a longer shelf life which is why it has a different taste than most milk. There is nothing wrong with this but if you think you are getting a fresher product most of the organic milk isn't as fresh.
    There also was a study done by some Universities just recently which purchased 200 containers of all types of milk (bst, bst free organic Etc.)and tested all the milk to try to find a difference between any of the milks and couldn't find any difference. Milk is Milk

    April 16, 2008 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Denise Richter

    Amen, Gita!
    It will cost approximately $2,000 for one dairy cow. Now you will need housing, feed, bedding, water, and fencing. Not to mention you will need to pay a nutritionist to balance the feed rations and a veterinarian to call when she gets sick or has problems calving. Oh you will also need to file a plan with your state's environmental protection agency, because what comes out Bessy's back side is HIGHLY regulated. And this plan must be developed by a professional technical provider. You must provide proof that you have enough crop land or yard to spread this manure on so as to not over apply, so you will probably need to speak with your neighbors about their yards as well. All this must be in writing and kept on file in case anyone has any questions. And you must register your facility/home with the federal government under the premise ID program. All of this applies whether you choose to raise your cow organically or conventionally. If you wish to remain truly organic, you will also need to buy a bull for insemination purposes, because if a cow doesn't calve every 12-16 months, she doesn't give milk. Let's see, the bull will run another $1,000, plus you have now doubled the cost of your feed, water, housing, bedding, fencing, don't want the big guy getting out! Plus you may want to invest in another cow, since your first cow will go through a dry period (no milk) for a few months prior to her calving and you will be without milk during that time without another cow.

    If dairy farming is so easy, why are more people doing it??

    April 17, 2008 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Gita

    Many thanks Denise for providing very good information. Appreciate the time & energy you put into replying.

    I will worry and start buying only organic milk the day when I'm confirmed & convinced that the quality difference between the two versions is like the difference between buying some stuff in some store and buying a dolce & gabbana.

    I'm not against rBST although I love to have a cow in future not for milking purposes but as my friend. My wildest dream is to have a baby elephant(it's not gonna remain baby forever). I can imagine how much land I would need to have it. Probably I'lI have to move to forest!

    It's easy to raise a human kid but hard to raise animals. We have to understand them and do the needful. We had a german shepherd. We have a cat, had a rabbit for some time(none were caged). So I do understand what it's to have animals and raise them. It's lot of responsibility!!!!!!

    As Mark mentioned, milk is one food that is highly regulated and under constant scrutiny. I am a health and fitness freak, so people no need to freak out over milk.

    Yes, we are not calf to drink cow's milk in gallons everyday. Unit is very important. Drink 2/3 cups(depending on the activity level) if people are adequately eating fruits & vegetables.

    Osteoporosis is on the increase. According to WHO, the daily calcium intake is around 500mg but in US it's almost the double. The reason is, here in US, people consume proteins(through meat products than whole grains and the like) in excess. Urea(waste and excreted through the kidneys) is a natural product of protein metabolism. But uric acid can also build up in the body. Excess protein can stimulate the loss of calcium through urine. I have seen this even in vegetarians who keep complaining about knee problems. I can understand if women after forties complain, they lose lot of calcium!. Men, with a torpedo of testosterone and other stuff), complaining about knee in their forties, is madness.

    Bottomline: Balance is the key. Reduce meat(produces acidity in the body as it's mainly protein),increase fruits and vegetables(most are alkaline), include grains(also produces some acidity) . Enjoy food but don't forget to do exercise.

    BTW, the study on violence in affected men, found a gene located on the long arm of X(female sex chromosome) and not cow's milk. It was cool to read one type of Indian lentil namely mung bean nuclease is used as an enzyme in the recombinant DNA technology.

    Common sense is so uncommon, says Voltaire. If I write the way Colbert talks, I know Sanjayji will not post the article. So I have to restrict myself here. May be I should give a coupon for 1 gallon rBST milk(per person and not per post) to all the people here for sharing information generously and also making me laugh. Thanks Sanjay and everybody. Keep yourself in physical and mental fitness. the only way to enjoy life to the fullest.

    April 18, 2008 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Anonymous

    Here is one reminder from recent history of how long it takes for science to figure out its mistakes, and then come out and say the opposite of what it had said for the last hundred years. There are plenty more examples too.

    Hydrogenated vegetable oil as Crisco appeared on the market in 1911. I remember growing up in the 1980s and being bombarded with advertising and the media promoting margarine as healthier than butter. A lot of people were skipping butter and using margarine to prevent heart disease. Some people stuck with what was natural.

    The National Academy of Sciences published in 2002 a review of research showing that trans fatty acids are more harmful than saturated fatty acids.

    Now based on science, we're doing the complete opposite, requiring labeling, some places banning trans fats, and manufacturers changing their product formulas to remove trans fats.

    Now if you have been using hydrogenated vegetable oils all your life to ward off heart disease, or just eating it like everyone in this country all along because it was everywhere, now you know that all of that actually went into damaging your heart more. The wait-till-the-link-is-proven strategy just doesn't work to prevent potential harm from newly invented substances and processes. If the link is later demonstrated, you can't undo the margarine you ate for 50 years or the milk you already drank.

    Given the plethora of examples that unfold like this, is it any surprise that people don't believe loosely cited "science", and just because a doctor says so? What were doctors and science saying in the 1980s during the margarine craze?

    Do company executives and employees, doctors, and scientists who convincingly recommended margarine over butter ever examine what went on within themselves and within their profession to cause such yo-yo science?

    Do you know what the next 100 years of science will reveal?

    April 23, 2008 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Consumers Unite!

    At the heart of the issue is who conducted the tests and were they ever given money in any way by either the biotech industry or "activists" against the GMO movement? If so, there is a conflict of interest and the research is worthless.

    Research Michael Taylor and rBST. You can google Michael Taylor and Monsanto revolving door FDA to see what I mean. He was an attorney for Monsanto, left to work for FDA (in a policy positon that was specially created for him) while the hormone was being approved; then he came back to Monsanto as a VP. I don't believe anything FDA says about rbST having read this.

    So you farmers, do you deny what Monsanto has even admitted in that rbST is bad for the cows? They cite lameness, mastitis and reproductive issues as problems (as do other dairy farmers who have used rbST and stopped). So you are producing milk that people are consuming from sick animals? Don't you think that might have health consequences? Additionally, isn't there a milk surplus in this nation? You speak about the stores getting more money for the non-synthetic hormone brands (which in Hawaii are maybe a dollar more than milk from synthetic hormone treated animals), but don't farmers get paid based on the amount of milk they produce? Correct me if I am wrong, but is there a milk shortage? I read that there is a huge stockpile of powdered milk in the US from overproduction. So why hurt the animals and deny consumers what they want to make more milk that we just don't need? $$ You guessed it...Everyone has an agenda in this issue. Like I said, I read somewhere that farmers get paid based on the amount of milk they sell, not the quality. Is this inaccurate? I support farmers who give consumers what they want regardless of why they want it. If consumers want to avoid a product made by a company with a reputation of polluting the earth, bribing government officials and creating Agent Orange, they should damn well be able to.

    I am still waiting for someone to show some kind of research like a human clinical trial or any kind of truly independent study to prove this product is safe. If it is, then why do the EU and Canada ban the use of rbST? Some say the milk is exactly the same except that it has that little "r" in front of the name. Why is the r there? Because synthetic BST is not natural BST.

    Google Samuel Epstein for more on this.

    September 23, 2008 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Vern

    I have drink milk since the day I was born, 1942 NC, The doctor attending my birth, told my parents to give me all the milk I wanted. I have been addicted every since. I drink two gallons a day as an adult for over 40 years. I grew to 6 '2" and weighed 190 at the age of 19. After 3 years in the Army, I was weighing 230 and no fat on me. As I worked machining Locomotive engines & wheels I was so strong, I could push a boxcar on a bet. It was well known about my love for milk with ice. And now the rest of the story. I did not know that I was a diabetic and what cause it, I went from 250 lbs to 350 lbs and feeling very rough until I weighed 420 lbs. I had all kinds of health problems. I had to control my life for myself and my family. I haven't drink milk for 6 months, My blood reports are in the normal range, I have reduced my insulin by 2/3 rds, lost 50 pounds. I could not stand the pains anymore and this made me stop drinking milk. Milk does not make a body any good! I have never smoked or drink, except for milk. I wondered if anyone else was addicted to milk as I am. Vern

    October 29, 2008 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Alicia

    Simple math has convinced me to start buying hormone free milk.

    My mother is a breast cancer survivor. All of her cancer cells had hormone receptors. That means that hormones helped the cancer and made it thrive.

    To me it is simple math. I am at risk for a cancer that feeds on hormones. I should not ingest extra hormones. Not in milk, not in meat, not in pills.

    Today the idea that added hormones in milk affects cancer is discounted. But it was just a few years ago that we were told that Hormone Replacement Therapy was not a risk.

    November 3, 2008 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Dan

    I have chronic edima from poor kidney function, a gene inheritance thing. Anyway, my kidneys are in chronic pain to a certain extent. I heared under the latest kidney info about the hormones in milk being hard on kidneys for people with kidney problems, soooo dropped drinking 2% milk now for 4 days and the pain is almost gone.

    This is not a lactose diegestive problem like some say they get. The milk is past my digestive system and the hormones are in my blood overloading my kidneys. MY opinion, the agriculture industry is getting way out of hand with chemical and hormone enhancment programs just for performance sake, BUT not for our health sake!

    November 15, 2008 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. crystal

    I am a very concerened mother I recently took my 15 month old daughter to a doc appointment and my doc noticed that she is getting breast at 15 months old.she has being drinking whole milk for only five months,I am very concerened about this,what about my 4yr. old son what is this doing to him?We really need to stop the hormones in our foods ,this is crazy.

    May 9, 2009 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. MonaVie

    Oh very attractive blog. Interesting and meaningful. Keep it up

    December 17, 2010 at 07:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. jim

    I can tell you for sure that after drinking walmart, winn dixie, TG lee MILK,among others, I have a VERY hard time urinating.
    Organic, or Publix milk no problems, also I can taste something in the walmart ,WD, and TG lee milks. It only takes me about an hour to see the results as well as the "bad" milks take around 24 hours to get back to normal.
    Goverment approved hormones? ya right, I am not the only one who is experiencing this.
    Adult males with "prostate problems" should take note and try this on your own.

    December 26, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. jim

    forgot to mention that cheese also has the same effect if from "store brands" mentioned above as "bad".
    try it yourself.

    December 26, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.