Milk production is a big business and like most business, profit driven. Currently, the dairy industry is facing a marketing controversy over the use of artificial bovine growth hormone. “Hormone free” is a term many consumers view positively but any animal protein or by-product contains some amount of hormones. Artificial bovine growth hormone, also known as rGHB, is given to cattle to increase milk production. The FDA has stated, there is “no significant difference in milk from cows treated with artificial growth hormone,” however there have been studies published that raises concerns about the ingestion of insulin-like growth factor (Stewart, 2007).
Insulin-growth factor, also known as IGF-1, survives pasteurization and digestion by connecting with casein, and enters the bloodstream (Stewart, 2007). IGF-1 is present in tumor formation, accelerates cell growth and is considered anti-apoptotic because it prevents cancer cells from dying (Keon, 2010). Particular concern is in the development of breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer (Stewart, 2007). Non-fat and whole milk have shown to increase IGF-1 levels. In teenage women, consuming one pint of milk can raise IGF-1 levels by 10%. Despite the connection some research has shown, the USDA has yet to join countries like Japan, Canada and New Zealand to ban the use of rGHB (Keon, 2010).
Keon, J. (2010) Whitewash: The disturbing truth about cow’s milk and your health. United States: New Society Publishers.
Stewart, K. L. (2007) Eating between the lines: The supermarket shopper’s guide to the truth behind food labels. 1st edn. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.