Are there hormones in milk?

As a dairy farmer, I get a lot of questions. I love talking with people about dairy, and it’s even better when I know they’re going to be pleased with the facts I share! Today’s burning questions…

Are there added hormones in milk? 

No. There are no added hormones in milk. There aren’t added hormones in organic milk nor regular milk.

In 2008, farmers in Michigan pledged to not give their cows hormones to produce more milk.  (Many farmers had never done it.)  In the past, when farmers did, there was no way to tell the synthetic hormone from the natural hormone, because cows already produced it.  So there was no test.  When consumers didn’t want it, farmers stopped using it.

Are there hormones in milk?

Yes. There are hormones in milk. There are hormones in both organic milk and regular milk, because they come from a lactating animal.

Is this something I should worry about?

Nope! Hormones aren’t just in milk – they’re in all types of food, like eggs, cabbage, and potatoes. For instance, look at this chart about estrogen from Allen Young, Utah State University Extension dairy specialist and associate professor:

hormone chart

Animals and plants produce hormones naturally

What does this mean to me?

Here’s the good news…humans do not have receptors for bovine hormones.
It’s not me saying it – it’s scientists:

  • “There are zillions of protein hormones in both plant and animal foods. They are digested in the stomach, which kills their ability to have any biological activity.” Best Food Facts, Dr. Terry Etherton
  • “Studies have shown that human and bovine milk normally contain small amounts of growth hormone….Overall studies show recombinant growth hormone cannot be absorbed intact through intestine and even if small amounts get absorbed, there is no receptor for bovine growth hormones in humans.” Science Blogs: Aetiology, Tara C. Smith
  • “Neither natural nor synthetic BGH has been found to affect human growth hormone receptors.” American Cancer Society

Thank you for your questions. It’s hard to know everything about every food, so farmers are happy to answer about their own areas. I hope you enjoy a tall, cold glass of milk, an ice cream cone, or a pizza tonight – maybe all three!

Eleven years ago, Carla Wardin and her husband Kris quit their corporate jobs and bought Carla’s parents’ dairy farm in Michigan. They milk cows and raise alfalfa, corn, and three boys. She’s a township supervisor in her community, is a Team Chocolate Milk runner, and enjoys teaching today’s youth through volunteer work, substitute teaching and swimming lessons.