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Hormones: Hashing out the facts

Jordan Anderson Updated: 02/04/2014 @ 8:42am Digital Content Editor for Successful Farming magazine and Agriculture.com

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln published an article answering the question that so many ask these days when it comes to beef: What about hormones?

It’s undeniable that all multicellular organisms have hormones. There are different types of hormones present in our bodies as well as plants and animals. Some beef producers use hormone implants to increase efficiency by converting feed to more muscle (at the expense of fat deposition), which, in turn, keeps beef prices down and reduces the environmental impact of production. 

Many consumers have shown concern about growth hormones being injected into the beef they put on their tables. Implanted beef does have slightly more estrogen than non-implanted beef, raising red flags as to how this affects our bodies when we consume it. UNL took it among themselves to lay out the facts and put consumers’ minds at ease. 

“When hormones are eaten, they are digested, broken down and largely neutralized, so they don’t act as hormones anymore,” stated the article written by UNL Extension Educator, Bruce Treffer. “Even if they did, the 1.9 nanograms [per 3-ounce serving] of estrogen in implanted beef seems miniscule when we consider that a child’s body produces around 50,000 nanograms of estrogen per day.”

Furthermore, the amount of estrogen in hormore-implanted beef doesn’t even compare to estrogen amounts naturally found in foods such as potatoes, ice cream, or soy milk (see table). 

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