By Nathan Smith

Milk…does it really do a body good?

You might have seen the giant billboards or semi-trucks advertising the “no added hormones” line stamped across a picture of cows in a green meadow or maybe a huge pitcher of milk.

No added hormones? What exactly are hormones doing in milk in the first place? What if my milk doesn’t have this special label? What if I accidentally drink a hormone while dunking my Oreos? Will I get sick? Will I grow a tail?

Let’s get real and answer the myths surrounding hormones and milk.

First, all milk contains low levels of natural hormones, including organic milk. Cows—same as humans—naturally  produce hormones from pituitary glands. In the case of cows, 90 percent of the hormones are destroyed during the milk pasteurization process.

It’s true that a small number of dairy producers administer the tested and approved synthetic version of a hormone (rBST) to maintain peak rates of milk production. The hormone’s safety for human consumption has been affirmed again and again by the Food and Drug Administration, American Medical AssociationNational Institute of Health,  and World Health Organization

Have you heard milk is linked to girls reaching puberty at an earlier age? Unfortunately, that’s a claim floating around from those who want to scare you into paying more for a non-existent “hormone free” product. There is no evidence or proof to those claims.  The American Council on Science and Health points to other factors like genetics, availability of food and nutrition, and social and lifestyle changes to explain that health phenomenon.

Some companies play on our tendency to follow emotion, rather than research and facts, when it comes to food. Don’t be fooled by misleading labels and marketing strategies emphasizing one kind of milk over another. Milk is a proven source of protein and calcium, along with many other vitamins that children and adults need.

Lots of things sound believable in this hyper-sensitive world. For some, the “hormone free” label staring back from the refrigerator is reassuring. And that’s okay. For me, the science speaks louder.  

Want to hear directly from a dairy farmer? What about a mom concerned for her children? Check out this page to hear from both: