What Are the Effects of Hormones in Milk?

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  • Written By: Tiffany Manley
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2020
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Some people believe that the presence of hormones in milk has adverse affects on humans, but others disagree. There is a multitude of research to support both sides of the debate. Those opposed to hormones in milk claim that the hormones might be linked to certain cancers, acne and faster-than-normal growth in prepubescent children. Others believe that any milk intake, even organic milk, is harmful to humans. In addition to the harmful effects in humans, some individuals believe that living a life free of unnecessary injections of hormones and antibiotics is best for the cattle as well.

According to some people, hormones in milk have been linked to certain cancers, such as ovarian, prostate and breast cancer. A possible cause for this might be higher levels of estrogen in the milk. Ingesting high levels of estrogen might lead to certain kinds of cancer. Some studies have shown that an increased dairy intake causes an increased cancer rate. Other studies have shown that organic milk has the highest occurrence of sex hormones, and traditional cow’s milk has the lowest occurrence.

Some doctors believe that hormones in milk are responsible for acne. They claim the acne is caused by byproducts of the breakdown of progesterone. These produce sebum, which can clog pores when produced in excess, leading to acne. Decreasing the amount of cow’s milk ingested each day might help clear up acne in some individuals.


Premature growth in children might be associated with hormones in milk, according to some people. Research have shown that after drinking cow’s milk, hormone levels in the blood of children have been elevated. This research has been conducted over a one-month period, and more long-term effects have not been determined.

The presence of hormones in milk is one of several arguments that some people use in an effort to persuade others that milk is not at all fit for human consumption. They argue that cow’s milk should be used to nourish a calf and nothing more. The chemical makeup of the milk allows the calf to grow, and the same substances are present when humans drink the milk.

Others look at the debate from an animal rights point of view. They believe that subjecting the cows to hormone injections, antibiotics and similar practices infringes upon the cow’s basic rights and is not healthy. To those people, a cow that is allowed to roam in a pasture, eat grass and produce organic milk is ideal.


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Interestingly, for those who may be looking for plant-based alternatives to cow milk, soy milk also stimulates the body's production of estrogen and can actually lead to hormone-related disorders in both men and women, as well as babies. Soy products contain what are called phytoestrogens that act just like estrogen in humans, regardless of gender. So soy milk hormones are just as big a problem as the ones from cow's milk, if not even more so.

For what it's worth, I've found coconut milk and almond milk to be good replacements for cow's milk, and I try to opt for organic milk any time I want or need cow's milk for some reason.

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