Does a burger from a hormone-treated cow pose a health problem? Maybe, if you eat the bun


[This article was written by Michelle Miller, aka Farm Babe, who raises lambs and beef cattle, and grows almost 2,000 acres of row crops like corn, soybeans, oats, and alfalfa with her boyfriend in Northeast Iowa.]

All different types of food naturally contain hormones. So do animals and people, obviously. But you may be surprised to see the levels of these hormones. What if I told you that there are more hormones in a bun than there are in an actual burger?

That’s right, folks. White bread can contain 300,000 nanogram of estrogen, try comparing that to other foods here:


By law, if the label “no added hormones or steroids” is used on a package of pork or poultry products, it must be followed up with an asterisk and fine print: *federal law strictly prohibits the use of hormones in poultry.

ea0761_dba0a0cb763c4b17a76af41630e57785You’ll notice on the chart above that there is only 2 nanograms of difference between a steak that’s been treated and one that has not, and a nanogram is a billionth of a gram. Billion. With a “b.” Iowa State University breaks this down further and explains that the average man naturally produces 135,000 ng per day, a woman produces 513,000 per day, and a pregnant woman can produce up to 20 million nanograms of estrogen per day! This just goes to show that to bicker about only 2 nanograms clearly makes no logical sense. In order for growth hormones in beef to affect humans, you would need to eat thousands of pounds of steak in a single sitting..

The next time you’re at a restaurant, farmers market, or grocer and the marketing label says, “Our chickens have no added hormones!” You can smile and know that all chicken is free from added hormones.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Farm Babe: What you need to know about growth hormones in meat

  • Filip Collet

    I have a few questions with what is being said in this article. I know next to nothing about hormones, let alone those being administered in cattle or those being present naturally in animals or plants, so some clarification would be very helpful.

    1. The table and the article only mentions estrogen. What other hormones (testosteron, e.g.) are being used on cattle? Could the same comparison be made with respect to the normal levels present in a human body?

    2. The table cites a number for estrone and estradiol for animal products and a number for isoflavones for plant products. How equivalent are they? Do they have the same effect in humans? Are they all precursors of estrogen itself? In what way might they (if at all) interfere with the human endocrine system?

    • John Hilliard

      I posted a FDA link about hormones in our food. I farm 21 acres of vines, not animals, but the regulations for farmers should reassure you. We cannot buy pesticides without a license and the pesticide data is reported to our county, Santa Barbara, and is available online. Everything single application including the product name, the amount applied, the date and the applicator is public record.

      • Filip Collet

        I detect some defensiveness on your part, which I want to assure you is not necessary. I do not in any way mean to imply that something fishy is going on or that hormones should be banned from use on cattle. They are regulated by the FDA and I have no reason to assume that current regulation is not adequate.

  • John Hilliard

    Dear Filip, This article is accurate. Our food supply is safe, and it is subject to strict regulation. FDA report on hormones:

    • Filip Collet

      Thank you for our link. It only answers (part of) my first question though. I am genuinely interested in how these supplements work and what effect (if any) they have on consumers.

      I am sure our food supply is safe. I trust government agencies enough to regulate that sufficiently. But seeing that hormone use can be a contentious subject that is easily misrepresented, I merely want to know more about the subject.