Dairy & Sexual Precocity

Dairy & Sexual Precocity
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The effects of the hormones in cow’s milk on men and prepubescent children.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

We’ve known for over a decade that women who eat meat have the highest levels of estrogenic hormones in their bloodstream, and vegans the lowest—but maybe that’s just because vegans are so much slimmer.

This year, the consumption of animal products was definitively linked to the levels of circulating steroid hormones in the blood, regardless of body fat levels. The reason we’re concerned is that the increased consumption of animal-derived food may have adverse effects on the development of hormone-dependent cancers. Among dietary risk factors, these investigators were most concerned about milk and dairy products, because the milk we drink today is produced from pregnant cows, in which estrogen and progesterone levels are markedly elevated. That may be why milk-drinkers have five times the rates of twins compared to vegans—that’s how much of an effect dairy can have on our hormones.

A landmark study was published this year in an international pediatrics journal on just how much estrogen we’re exposed to when we drink milk, given that the majority of commercial milk comes from pregnant cows. During the 60s and 70s, genetic manipulations of dairy cows enabled them to lactate throughout almost their entire pregnancies. That’s why commercial cow’s milk these days contains large amounts of estrogens and progesterone.

During the same period, there’s been a dramatic increase in estrogen-dependent malignant diseases, such as ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer. Eating and drinking estrogen is not just a problem for women; research shows that among various food items, cow’s milk and cheese had the highest correlation with the incidence and mortality rate of these male cancers as well.

Especially for prepubescent children, there is particular concern about exposure to exogenous estrogens in commercial milk produced from pregnant cows. So what they did is have young men, ages 19 through 21, and children, ages 7 through 9, try to chug a quart of cow’s milk in under 10 minutes.

This is what happened to the men. The levels of the pregnancy estrogen estrone started to shoot up 60% within an hour of drinking the milk. And their testosterone levels significantly dropped.

You know, there are men who don’t want to drink soy milk because they have an irrational fear of phytoestrogens—even though soy does not have feminizing effects on men. Yet they’re perfectly willing to drink cow’s milk, which has actual estrogen estrogens in it! Within one hour of the milk hitting their intestines, estrogen levels go significantly up, and testosterone levels go significantly down.

What about the children? Same thing, but even more dramatic, because they start out with such low levels. Within one hour of drinking cow’s milk, the level of sex steroid hormones in their little bodies more than triples. And half the kids couldn’t even finish the whole quart.

Why should we care? Because some of these powerful estrogens could be categorized as carcinogens, and milk is a rich source of these hormones, and concentrates in mammary drainage. Never seem to see that in the advertisements.

The corresponding suppression in testosterone secretion means that men are certainly affected by commercial cow’s milk. And height, growth, and sexual maturation of young children could also be affected by normal intake of cow’s milk.

As I talked about in the last volume, recent surveys on the onset of puberty show an alarming trend of earlier sexual maturation in girls. During this same time period, exposure to exogenous (meaning external) estrogens, through intake of commercial milk produced from pregnant cows, has spread around the world. They think that this intake of pregnant cow’s milk is one of the major causes of early sexual maturation in young children. This relationship between estrogens in pregnant cow’s milk, and sexual maturation in children, must be acknowledged as an important theme.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

We’ve known for over a decade that women who eat meat have the highest levels of estrogenic hormones in their bloodstream, and vegans the lowest—but maybe that’s just because vegans are so much slimmer.

This year, the consumption of animal products was definitively linked to the levels of circulating steroid hormones in the blood, regardless of body fat levels. The reason we’re concerned is that the increased consumption of animal-derived food may have adverse effects on the development of hormone-dependent cancers. Among dietary risk factors, these investigators were most concerned about milk and dairy products, because the milk we drink today is produced from pregnant cows, in which estrogen and progesterone levels are markedly elevated. That may be why milk-drinkers have five times the rates of twins compared to vegans—that’s how much of an effect dairy can have on our hormones.

A landmark study was published this year in an international pediatrics journal on just how much estrogen we’re exposed to when we drink milk, given that the majority of commercial milk comes from pregnant cows. During the 60s and 70s, genetic manipulations of dairy cows enabled them to lactate throughout almost their entire pregnancies. That’s why commercial cow’s milk these days contains large amounts of estrogens and progesterone.

During the same period, there’s been a dramatic increase in estrogen-dependent malignant diseases, such as ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer. Eating and drinking estrogen is not just a problem for women; research shows that among various food items, cow’s milk and cheese had the highest correlation with the incidence and mortality rate of these male cancers as well.

Especially for prepubescent children, there is particular concern about exposure to exogenous estrogens in commercial milk produced from pregnant cows. So what they did is have young men, ages 19 through 21, and children, ages 7 through 9, try to chug a quart of cow’s milk in under 10 minutes.

This is what happened to the men. The levels of the pregnancy estrogen estrone started to shoot up 60% within an hour of drinking the milk. And their testosterone levels significantly dropped.

You know, there are men who don’t want to drink soy milk because they have an irrational fear of phytoestrogens—even though soy does not have feminizing effects on men. Yet they’re perfectly willing to drink cow’s milk, which has actual estrogen estrogens in it! Within one hour of the milk hitting their intestines, estrogen levels go significantly up, and testosterone levels go significantly down.

What about the children? Same thing, but even more dramatic, because they start out with such low levels. Within one hour of drinking cow’s milk, the level of sex steroid hormones in their little bodies more than triples. And half the kids couldn’t even finish the whole quart.

Why should we care? Because some of these powerful estrogens could be categorized as carcinogens, and milk is a rich source of these hormones, and concentrates in mammary drainage. Never seem to see that in the advertisements.

The corresponding suppression in testosterone secretion means that men are certainly affected by commercial cow’s milk. And height, growth, and sexual maturation of young children could also be affected by normal intake of cow’s milk.

As I talked about in the last volume, recent surveys on the onset of puberty show an alarming trend of earlier sexual maturation in girls. During this same time period, exposure to exogenous (meaning external) estrogens, through intake of commercial milk produced from pregnant cows, has spread around the world. They think that this intake of pregnant cow’s milk is one of the major causes of early sexual maturation in young children. This relationship between estrogens in pregnant cow’s milk, and sexual maturation in children, must be acknowledged as an important theme.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

37 responses to “Dairy & Sexual Precocity

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  1. Dr. Greger, are there studies about early puberty and non-milk dairy (yogurt, cheese, etc)? I assume there would be as much bovine endocrine debris in these products as the milk they were made from, but do we know?

  2. Hi Dr. Greger – My husband has prostate cancer and after two unsuccessful surgeries (brachytherapy and cryosurgery) he is now being given hormone treatments in a drug called Lupron. If prostate cancer is an estrogen-dependent disease, as you state in this video, why would the docs be feeding it to him to slow down the cancer growth?

    Here’s a partial definition of estrogen in the American Heritage Dictionary: “. . . substances that. . . are used to . . . ameliorate cancers of the breast and prostate.”

    What am I missing?

    Thank you so much for the excellent work you do!

    1. Lupron is given to block the production of both estrogen and testosterone in patients. Prostate cancer is especially stimulated by testosterone. One study showed that males who go on a vegan diet have gone from doubling their PSA levels every 12 months to every 120 months. Studies have shown positive effects on prostate cancer both in vitro(in the lab) and in clinical studies… see.http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/cancer-reversal-through-diet/. There has also been recommendations about cancer in general… see http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/slowing-the-growth-of-cancer-3/. Some vegetables have been shown to be more effective in the lab at affecting the growth of cancer cells… see http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/1-anticancer-vegetable/. Good luck.

  3. Many people probably saw the story about Jeremy Pevin the actor where he said:

    (snipped)

    “…”I was the guy that dabbled in soy milk, but now I’ve found out soy milk has enough estrogen for me to grow breasts,” he told STV (via Digital Spy). “I had to put the soy milk down. It was a very confusing time.”

    Turns out Piven was drinking 12 cups of soy milk a day! ….”

    Is it 100% conclusive that soy does not have unwanted estrogen for men? I have heard from more than one source that it was not good to drink too much of it if you are a guy.

    I do not drink regular cow’s milk (for decades) either and have switched to almond milk. I could not find any commentary on almond milk on this website.

    Perhaps you could direct me to a place where almond milk is mentioned on the site , if it is.

    1. I can’t answer your exact question but would just like to state that no matter how healthy anything is for you everything must be taken in moderation even moderation. (I.E. If you drink too much water at a time you can wind up drowning your liver and killing yourself.)

  4. Is there any difference in the levels between a grass fed, pasture raised cow and that from a cow in a “Factory Farm” or “CAFO”? 

    1.  The only difference may be in contamination level but this is not the issue here. What this video is looking at is the nutritional composition of milk itself which is relatively unchanged whether it be organic or conventional. Milk is indeed used to grow a baby calf and this is a completely unnatural substance for adult humans to be consuming.

  5. Thank you for this interesting video (as usual) ,I’m a vegan dietitian and I have 2 question about this topic:
    1. I can’t remember where I read it, but I think that the half life of Estrogen is only 50 hours, I’m not sure if that’s correct and I also don’t know to what exactly does this Estrogen break up to… do you know about any research that deal with this question?
    2. About soy, I know that soy have a protective effect from Estrogen related cancer. But I’m not sure that this is the same with sexual development. most of the researches I found had been focus on infant formulas. And they found that soy formulas may also precede sexual development. I also found a research that claim that high Isoflavone in the serum may be connected to early puberty:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04127.x/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=falseWhat's your opinion about this subject?
    Sorry in advance for my bad grammar… (I’m from Israel)

  6. jojo, the article is obsessed with phytic acid, when all beans, not just soy, and many grains contain phytic acid. Phytic acid is neutralized by cooking, and I do not know many people who eat raw beans. Trypsin is also deactivated with cooking. Soy does not affect hormonal levels either as shown by this video. Nitrosamines are forms not from high temperature cooking but when nitrites are exposed to fat. Nitrates and ntirites are different substances. Nitrates are found in plant products.
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/when-nitrites-go-bad/

    The article is filled with flawed information.

  7. This is one of the most helpful websites I’ve ever seen. I’ve been studying it for several months now and even down loading some of the journal articles it references. I feel so much better informed and able to take care of my family members better! Great work!

  8. I’ve searched the (excellent and helpful) site for information about uterine/endometrial cancer but haven’t found much. Is there a lack of research to report? I’d love to be able to find more information.

  9. Hello Dr. Gregor, there’s a history of uterine cancer in my family, my grandma and her sister both had it and my aunt had it. My mom is paranoid about soy foods and thinks that they cause cancer and since I became vegan is hyper aware of my soy intake. I was curious about what you’ve found out about soy intake and uterine cancer. Is it something I should be worried about or is it actually good to have soy like it is for breast cancer?

    1. Rachel: This website has a *bunch* of information about traditional soy products and cancer. Usually the videos discuss soy vs breast and prostate cancer. But I would think (though I’m no doctor or expert) that the same information would be applicable to uterine cancer.

      I highly recommend checking out the videos and articles in the link below. But I’ll give the bottom line summary here: 2-3 servings a day of traditional soy products like tofu, tempeh, and soy milk are healthy foods that likely help prevent cancer and/or help prevent cancer recurrence. It’s most likely to provide preventative benefits for women if you eat it your whole life, but I still think there are studies Dr. Greger highlighted that show benefits at any age. I certainly do not see how it could hurt you or your family.

      HOWEVER, note that “isolated soy protein” which comes in many processed packaged foods, does *not* count as a traditional soy product. And note that many commenters have posted on this site that isolated soy protein may be as bad for you as dairy in terms of how it affects IGF-1 (another NutritionFacts video I highly recommend).

      I’ll also add that some people think that it is important to get organic soy. That way you avoid pesticides and the GMOs. (Other people think that GMOs are not a concern.) Luckily it is easy to get organic soy products – or at least those labeled as GMO-free.

      http://nutritionfacts.org/index.php?s=soy

      Hope that helps.

    2. There are many factors associated with increased uterine cancer as Dr. Greger points out estrogen intake is one factor. Obesity and diabetes are also associated with uterine cancer… I’m assuming you speak of uterine cancer and not cervical cancer which has other associated risk factors. Overweight and obese women are at more risk for uterine cancer… hard to say if it is from the foods such as dairy or from the estrogen that is produced by fat cells. As Thea points out whole soy products are fine. Good luck.

  10. This video is filled with unsubstantiated speculation.

    Not all dairies use Holstein cows and not all dairies keep their cows pregnant and not all dairies use rBGH. There’s a big difference between small raw milk dairies and large pasteurized milk dairies.

    They don,t refer specifically to raw milk or any raw animal products for that matter.

    Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and antibiotics are given to animals, such as cattle and chickens in order to make them gain weight faster. Growth hormones also increase milk production in animals. These hormones may hold negative health repercussions for humans. Early puberty in girls has been associated with certain growth hormones used in meat and dairy products.

  11. The study used to say soy has no feminizing effects on men was paid for by the soy industry.

    “M.M. regularly consults for companies that manufacture and/or sell
    soyfoods and/or isoflavone supplements, and he is the executive director
    of the Soy Nutrition Institute, a science-based organization that is
    funded in part by the soy industry and the United Soybean Board.”

    The author is from Loma Linda University’s school of public healthy, too, which makes me suspicious of the Adventist health studies.

  12. This is amazing Dr. Greger. I´m an specialist in fitness nutrition in Ecuador and you don´t know how many times I´ve heard from trainers how you should stay away from soy, because its feminizing effects. Do I have your permission to embed your video to my site http://www.adrianyepez.com? It would be great if it had spanish subtitles.

  13. Does this also apply to breastfeeding humans? If you are still breastfeeding and become pregnant, would you be passing in elevated estrogen levels to the child that is breastfeeding?

    1. It could be argued that EVERYONE should avoid dairy products. Even though dairy products contain calcium and protein, we can obtain calcium and protein from a whole food plant-based diet. Also, dairy products contain harmful components that are linked to a number of health conditions such as asthma http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-milk-and-mucus-a-myth/ and diseases such as cancer http://nutritionfacts.org/video/prevent-cancer-from-going-on-tor/ and http://nutritionfacts.org/video/prostate-cancer-and-organic-milk-vs-almond-milk/ . Dr. Greger has reported on the links between dairy and Parkinson’s here: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/could-lactose-explain-the-milk-and-parkinsons-disease-link/ The good news is that there are amazing substitutes for all animal dairy products. Some of the artisan vegan cheeses are delicious and you can get plant milks and plant milks based ice creams and yogurts made from soy, cashews, rice, almonds, coconut and more. It’s easy (and healthy) to completely eliminate dairy from your diet. – nutrition professor and volunteer moderator, ‪ Martica Heaner, PhD‬‬‬‬

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