Healthy For Life: A Parent’s Guide to Treating and Preventing Childhood Obesity

Steroid Hormones in our Food Supply and Obesity

What are steroid hormones?

Steroid hormones are chemicals that are produced naturally in the bodies of all animals, including humans. They are chemical messages that control important body functions such as growth, development and reproduction. Our bodies produce them naturally in very small amounts to maintain a delicate balance. Ingesting steroid hormones, either natural or synthetic can upset the natural balance in the body and lead to health problems. Studies have shown increased rates of cancer due to the ingestion of estrogen’s found in our food supply, especially breast cancer. Other studies are finding correlations between steroid hormones and weight gain, which isn’t surprising since that is one of the main reasons steroid hormones are used in our food supply, to increase growth!

Why are steroid hormones used in our food supply?

Bottom line: Steroid hormones increase the profitability of the meat and dairy industries. Certain steroid hormones can make young animals gain weight faster. This helps reduce the waiting time and the amount of feed eaten by an animal before slaughter in meat industries. In dairy cows, hormones are  used to increase milk production. Steroids basically help the meat and dairy industries cut costs dramatically and increase production in a shorter period of time. This is done at the expense of the health of the animals injected with steroid hormones and the people who consume the end products.

What are the different hormones used now by the meat and dairy industries?

There are six different kinds of steroid hormones that are currently approved by FDA for use in food production in the US: estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate, and melengestrol acetate. Estradiol and progesterone are natural female sex hormones; testosterone is the natural male sex hormone; zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengesterol acetate are synthetic growth promoters (hormone-like chemicals that can make animals grow faster).

Why should consumers be concerned about steroid hormones in food production?

First of all, as mentioned before, our bodies produce hormones in the amount needed to maintain a delicate balance and any additional hormones, natural or synthetic can throw off this balance and create health issues. Secondly, synthetic hormones (or synthetic anything for that matter!) are not metabolized in the body the same way their natural counterparts are. In fact, synthetic hormones act as toxins in the body and can be difficult to get out of your system. One of the main side effects of synthetic hormones is WEIGHT GAIN, especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs.

Other major health risks of steroid hormones have been correlated with increased risk of many cancers, heart disease and strokes. You will find many articles stating that not enough studies have been done to associate these risks with steroid hormones found in our food supply, but common sense should tell you otherwise. Given the information we already have in regards to hormones and synthetic hormones and the potential side effects and health risks, do you really need a study to prove the obvious? Studies take years and by the time enough studies have accumulated to prove what common sense already tells us, the damage has already been done. A great example: Hormone Replacement Therapy. The use of Premarin to treat symptoms in menopausal women. After years of use they have now found that Premarin (conjugated estrogens) has been linked to ovarian cancer, lupus, scleroderma, gallbladder cancer and stroke.

You don’t always need to rely on a study to determine what is good or bad for you. We were all born with an innate sense of what may or may not be good for us. Take your power back and make decisions based on common sense and if still in doubt, get in and research both sides and then make your OWN decision based on what you learned.

So what can you do to avoid these dangerous steroid hormones in food?

Simply choosing hormone-free and antibiotic- free meat and dairy products can help you avoid the health risks associated with hormone treated foods including weight gain and obesity. This is also a good choice for the environment as many of these steroids and antibiotics are not fully broken down and enter the environment fully intact through waste water and run off. By choosing hormone/antibiotic free meat and dairy you are also supporting the more humane treatment of animals:-)

Tips and Tricks:

Non-violence leads to the
highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
Thomas A. Edison
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