Hormones in milk and meat?

Hi all, just wondered if anyone could advise from research or experience...

I've been to see a naturopath this week for help with both hashimotos and polycystic ovarian syndrome. She has suggested various changes to my diet, one of which is to cut out cows' milk and only eat organic meat because of the hormones in them. I have done a bit of reading about this, but I can't seem to find any balanced articles on how much of an issue it is. Websites seems to be either pro-vegan, pro-farming, or American, where the regulation on hormones given to animals is not as stringent as the uk. Whilst I don't eat a huge amount of meat, it is more difficult/expensive to get organic, and I just like cows' milk and don't have any other issues with it. I have bought some soya milk, but then read you shouldn't have it within 4 hours of levo so that's no good for breakfast!

If anyone has informed views on this I would really appreciate some input. I'm just feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the changes to my diet at the moment (is a life without cake and choc going to be fulfilling?!) and don't want to change things I don't need to.

Thank you,


43 Replies

  • Hi Emma.

    Have you asked the naturopath why she suggested organic animal products, in other words, how she feels you're affected by the hormones? It's not a bad idea to tell her what your reservations are so she can explain her reasons.

    As regards Hashi's, soy is probably best avoided altogether, but there are a number of other options (rice, oat, almond, hemp milks and there's a coconut one, begins with a K, can't remember the name but it's very good).

    I had a great experience with a naturopath a number of years ago when I had chronic sinusitis - I gave up dairy - but I've not tried it for my Hashi's.

    As far as I'm aware all milk contains hormones.

  • I think it's because of the oestrogen in it, so more pcos than thyroid related. But she's trying to address the whole endocrine system and interactions between parts of it.

  • My daughter is a farm vet, I can ask her what meds are routinely given and if they affect end products.

  • It would be great if you could ask her whether cows are given anything to make them produce more milk or increase their growth ie things that would make their products have more oestrogen or other hormones in. I would really appreciate it, thank you.

  • Ok I will let you know later.

  • Thank you

  • Mountaingoat83

    First of all organic meat and milk does not mean no drugs are used, they are still given drugs but after so many the animal looses it's organic status. Drugs that are licensed for food producing animals are rigorously tested and have a meat and milk withdrawal period (this means that meat and milk from that animal cannot be used for human consumption during the withdrawal period). Essentially after the withdrawal period meat and milk will not contain any drug residue to affect humans. They are not given drugs to increase milk yield or muscle growth, it is not done. Bovine somatotropin is illegal in this country.

  • Wow thank you for the speedy reply! So am I right in thinking the only hormones in meats and milk, particularly milk which is from pregnant cows, are those which are produced naturally by the animal? In which case I just need to work out if the amount is significant enough to affect my own hormones!

  • It won't affect you so don't worry about it and just to clarify cows do not have to be in calf to produce milk, they will have recently had a calf ( in case you were concerned about pregnancy hormones) .

  • Thank you and your daughter so much for the info, that's very reassuring!

  • Interestingly, organic fed cattle tend to be a bit on the hypo side. Seems the relatively large amount of goitrogens eaten by "grass fed" animals are responsible (that is, clover, alfalfa and other plants) has the effect of reducing their ability to produce thyroid hormones.

    So they and their milk might have a lower hormone content (at least of thyroid hormones) - but maybe not what you are seeking! :-)


  • what is alfalfa (Lucerne) seriously? (UK farmers don't do foreign, well maybe silage, every little ferment helps) Oh you gotta see that springtime dash! :)

    Yes, avoid red meat and milk... at your peril! (I avoided milk for 40+ years - duh stupid, just 'cos I was spooked seeing it wriggle in the filter sock, then realised that's what filters are for! still complete yuk as are yoghurts!) not to mention the iodine teat cleanser.... (composes oneself....)

    However chickens are SO healthy (not) especially those that have the option to go outside to embrace the carefree chicken-run nomadic life [14 months max mind] ) - they have a choice from the 26,000 capacity pen - as if! - what does an actual (normal with no ADs) chicken choose? (survey here...sponsored by CTV & CKK doughnuts) the easy life indoors, they're FED antibiotics, and produce orange eggs, have a chat over the electric fence (Dawson-like) as they are apparently just a crop! @ 3pence each

    compared to a cow - 5 years (more if she's called daisy) 4 calves and a real earner! milk life then mince/burger afterlife (terrible to bone-out so nobbly & time-consuming - usually called Mac) well eating is better than zoo life! So...

    J :D

  • Your wouldn't be one of those people that march to save badgers, cry over a good doggy tale and absolutely HATE anything ivory SR?, cos if you are I'm right with you. I wouldn't trust our farming industry as far as I could throw them and I think Joe public are left in the dark about an awful lot as far as our farming industry goes. Next time you want to go farmer thumping just let me know and I'll have me placard ready.lol.

    Moggie x

  • they're just daft

  • I was married to a dairy farmer and this is how the cows behave when they have their first outing in the spring after being shut up inside all winter!!

  • That is interesting, thank you Rod. I think she meant more to do with oestrogen but good to know.

  • ... and Bovine somatotropin:


    I am sure you are right she wasn't thinking she'd get the answer I gave!


  • I think that is banned in the UK, this is where my research is getting confusing!

  • It is banned in Europe, I believe.

    One of the big problems we see is people reading things on (typically) USA sites and thinking they apply elsewhere. So, after a while, the quotes of quotes of quotes end up looking like that do apply here.

    One other classic is the use of bromine in bread - apparently done in the USA, but banned in Europe.


  • That's why I've been struggling to work out what the deal is with our meat and milk, when so many internet sources are from the US.

  • How did you find out that cows tend to be hypo? My daughter ( farm vet ) has never heard of a cow being tested for thyroid disease!

  • To be honest, I have no idea where I first saw it. The issue I was looking up was something to do with iodine content of milk from organically fed cattle. Here are a few links which might be of some interest:




    The cattle might still be "within normal range"!


  • I work in the farming community, all be it with crops and not animals as such, but did you know that the cattle in this country are feed GM feed, so maybe this is one of the reasons why your neuropath has suggest only eating organic.

    Please say away from soya as it has long been thought by many experts to damage the thyroid, this again is also GM.


    Your could always try this site for information, how good it will be I don't know but it may give you any idea of what and how our cattle are feed.


    Moggie x

  • Thank you Moggie

  • I farm. Animals in the UK are only given antibiotics when they are sick, as you would hope, and then there is a withdrawal period to make sure there is no trace of it in any animal for meat. Any animal with antibiotics in its system is disgarded. If antibiotics is found in the milk, this is disgarded and the farmer is fined, so they are very careful to make sure this does not happen. Growth hormones have been banned for years and years.

    The video shows cows when they are first turned out in the spring, and most herds will have a good frolic, and the farmers love to see this. Unfortunately, cows turned out into fields may become a thing of the past, as if they eat the grass a badger had peed on, they are at risk of contracting TB. They are tested very often for this, and are taken from the farmer and killed if they show any trace of TB. Farmers are now being advised to keep the cows in a badger proof building.

    There are traces of natural hormones in any animal, whether it is organic or not. After all, they need them when they are alive, just as we do. Most hormones naturally dissipate when the animal is hung after slaughter.

    Here in Britain we have very strong rules for farm animals. Every animal is traceable back to the farm where it was born and reared. Feed is checked regularly as is the way the animal is cared for. Unfortunately this is not always true of imported meat, so try and make sure you buy British.

  • Yes my brother recently gave up milking, folk wouldn't believe the amount of monitoring and testing - he's now having solar panels.

    In my rant I was trying to say beef (lamb & pork) is much better than chicken. (daughter in charge of 26,000 free range egg-layers, but eventually they went for meat). J

  • That's really interesting, thanks. We buy our meat from farm shops usually, and I enjoy knowing where it is from. We have three back garden chickens who are thoroughly spoilt, for eggs but I couldn't bring myself to eat them! Not when they have names :-D

  • I try really hard to only eat organic meat that's been dynamically farmed. The owner is passionate about animal welfare and has very high standards. Also available is buffalo milk which makes the most delicious ice cream.

    Think it was Dr Myhill who said that milk is for calves, not humans. Food for thought as it were.

    It's very hard to change habits of a lifetime so do hope that you will keep us updated!

  • My own choice is goats milk! Though, other than on cereal, I consume little (none in tea and coffee).

    Apparently, back a century or three, milk was mostly from sheep and goats - cow milk being used to raise calves and there being relatively little available.


  • I get organic milk because of the chemicals that go into poor overworked dairy cows, but not sure even this is enough.

    I recently found a raw milk supplier and it is fantastic. Just like milk from my childhood. If you read about what happens to homogenised milk you wouldn't drink it again, and even organic milk is homogenised....

  • There are no chemicals given to dairy cows.

    Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria which may make anyone who drinks it very ill. Suggest you take a look at the food safety info on raw milk.

  • I wouldn`t touch any meat, Especially that which came from a cow, because Iv`e heard that they give oestrogen ot them to fatten them up for slaughter, & it has been speculated by experts that this is the cause of falling male fertility, & premature puberty in girls.

  • Oestrogen is NOT given to cows.

  • I live in Canada and I trust our meat and dairy here. My dad works in the farming industry in the UK, specifically cattle. After hearing how strict regulations are for cattle farmers, I have even more trust in the UK meat and dairy than I do in Canada. I dont know if people in the UK realize how lucky they are that they have such strict rules governing food there. Whereas I wont touch meat or dairy when I travel to the States!

  • Oestrogen is given by the vet if a cow wasn't getting pregnant, cows aren't eaten but each one is electronically tagged with great detail (in UK anyway). When my daughter worked at the knacker's yard they had all cow/beef animals over 30 months, their meat was painted blue & went for dog/cat food, also they had the occasional giraffe & zebra! More likely oestrogen is in the water from 40 years use of the pill! (IMHO). I also prefer to see holes & a guilty slug in my cabbage - I know its safe to eat then, no herbicides/irradiation! (or grow my own) J :D

  • Oestrogen is not given by the Vet, they can use certain hormone therapy ( not oestrogen ) for fertility but these are not transferred to milk or meat because of withdrawal period.

  • Thanks Hypohen - my brother told me he thought it was oestrogen, but he's been out of milking for 2 years I think, so not sure what happens now! J :D

  • Thank you very much to everyone for the interesting and thought-provoking responses. It seems that, in purely hormone terms, I wouldn't benefit from swapping 'normal' meat for organic because there wouldn't be much difference. With milk, my naturopath wasn't saying that no-one should drink cow's milk, she has suggested I stop because we need to try and regulate my wayward hormones and I don't need any additional/external hormones to cope with. So, even if the amount is negligible, perhaps it's worth me trying something else (not soya!) until - hopefully - things improve in the lady department!! Which will then hopefully help keep my thyroid under control too, all things endocrine being linked. This is only one of a number of things I am trying to fingers something will work!

  • Also, I just found this foodcomm.org.uk/articles/mi... which seems to be reasonably independent! The conclusion is that we don't have enough evidence to know for sure if there's any effect from cows' milk on humans.

  • That article is from 2005, regulations and testing have moved on since then.

    I wish you well with your plan, hope it works for you.

  • Ah, dur, didn't spot that! Thank you very much.

  • If you can find cows milk that is pasturised but not homoginised, try that. The fat globules in it behave in a very different way and it has been proved that it is better for the gut.

    Latest research on milk has proved better than most "health" and sports drinks.

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