iPhone app iPad app Android phone app Android tablet app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Samuel S. Epstein

GET UPDATES FROM Samuel S. Epstein

Hormones in U.S. Beef

Posted: 11/06/09 04:54 PM ET

U.S beef is heavily contaminated with natural or synthetic sex hormones. The hormones in past and current use include the natural estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and the synthetic zeranol, trenbolone, and melengesterol. When beef cattle enter feedlots, pellets of these hormones are implanted under the ear skin, a process that is repeated at the midpoint of their 100-day pre-slaughter fattening period. These hormones increase carcass weight, adding over $80 extra profit per animal.

Also, and not surprisingly, but contrary to longstanding claims by the FDA and USDA, residues of these hormones in meat are up to 20-fold higher than normal. Still higher residues result from the not uncommon illegal practice of implantation directly into muscle. Furthermore, contrary to misleading assurances, meat is still not monitored for hormone residues.

Increased levels of sex hormones are linked to the escalating incidence of reproductive cancers in the U.S. since 1975, 60% for prostate, 59% for testis, and 10% for breast. Nevertheless, the FDA and USDA maintain that hormone residues in meat are within "normal levels," while waiving any requirements for residue testing.

Following a single ear implant in steers of Synovex-S, a combination of estrogen and progesterone, residues of these hormones in meat were found to be up to 20-fold higher than normal. The amount of estradiol in two hamburgers eaten in one day by an 8-year-old boy could increase his total hormone levels by as much as 10%, particularly as young children have very low natural hormone levels. Not surprisingly, the incidence of childhood cancer has increased by 38% since 1975.

These concerns are not new. As evidenced in a series of General Accountability Office investigations and Congressional hearings, FDA residue-tolerance programs and USDA inspections are in near total disarray, aggravated by brazen denials and cover-ups.

A January 1986 report, "Human Food Safety and the Regulation of Animal Drugs," unanimously approved by the House Committee on Government Operations, concluded that "the FDA has consistently disregarded its responsibility - has repeatedly put what is perceives are interests of veterinarians and the livestock industry ahead of its legal obligation to protect consumers, thus jeopardizing the health and safety of consumers of meat, milk and poultry.

Based on these concerns, Europe banned imports of U.S. beef in 1989, and Japan followed up with its own ban in 2003. Before the ban, Japan was the most lucrative overseas market for American beef, importing more than $1.5 billion worth in 2002.

In this connection, it is well recognized that American women have about a five-fold greater risk of breast cancer than Japanese. However, as recently confirmed by studies of cancer rates in Los Angeles County, the most highly populated ethnically diverse county in the U.S., the low risk in Japanese women increases sharply in immigrants to the U.S. after one to two generations. This, and a wide range of other studies in migrant populations, are supportive of avoidable, dietary, and possibly other "Westernized" lifestyle, causes of breast cancer, particularly hormonal meat.

Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. is professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health; Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition; a former President of the Rachel Carson Trust, his awards include the 1989 Right Livelihood Award and the 2005 Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medal for International Contributions to Cancer Prevention; author of 250 scientific articles and 15 books on cancer prevention, including the groundbreaking The Politics of Cancer (1979), and also Toxic Beauty (2009).
Samuel S. Epstein, MD
Professor emeritus Environmental & Occupational Medicine
University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health
Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, Chicago, Illinois

U.S beef is heavily contaminated with natural or synthetic sex hormones. The hormones in past and current use include the natural estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and the synthetic zeranol, ...
U.S beef is heavily contaminated with natural or synthetic sex hormones. The hormones in past and current use include the natural estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, and the synthetic zeranol, ...
  • Comments
  • 43
  • Pending Comments
  • 0
  • View FAQ
Comments are closed for this entry
View All
Recency  | 
Page: 1 2  Next ›  Last »  (2 total)
Terry S Singeltary Sr
01:36 PM on 11/19/2009
October 2009

It should be noted that humans can become more susceptible to infection with antimicrobial-resistant zoonotic bacteria to which they are exposed. This can happen, when there has been prior use of antimicrobials, resulting in decrease in colonization resistance (dysregulation of intestinal microbiota) and an increased vulnerability to gastrointestinal illness with antimicrobial-resistant food-borne pathogens. This applies to all infections with all micro-organisms listed in this document.




Our investigation also found that you hold animals under conditions that are so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely to enter the food supply.


Our investigation also found that you hold animals under conditions that are so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely to enter the food supply.


Our investigation also found that you hold animals under conditions that are so inadequate that medicated animals bearing potentially harmful drug residues are likely to enter the food supply.

Recently Posted Warning Letters Posted on November 17, 2009




11:28 PM on 11/09/2009
Dr. Epstein research and warnings are valuable and long overdue. His book on cosmetics and consumer products is timely. I spoke with sales women at a local cosmetic chain recently and they were telling me in confidence that they feared that the petroleum and chemical based cosmetics were contributing to breast cancer in this country and worried about their own daily contact with many of the cosmetics/creams/etc.
11:16 PM on 11/09/2009
Why would anyone wish to eat hormone injected beef given this scenario? The other question that must be asked is if those who engage in this practice also have a financial interest in pharmaceuticals that treat cancer?
11:56 AM on 11/09/2009
I encourage everyone in the US to rent and watch Food, Inc. - a must see.
09:23 PM on 11/08/2009
hormone levels were up by 20 fold? Did Dr. Epstein test this himself? "Steers and calves (uncooked edible tissues): (1) 3 parts per billion for muscle. (2) 12 parts per billion for fat. (3) 9 parts per billion for kidney. (4) 6 parts per billion for liver." (straight from the FDA's website for the ear implants commonly used in beef cattle) Now 3 parts per billion in percent is .0000003% for the muscle portion. Now someone tell me where the 20 fold comes in??? Each implant costs money, there is a point when costs out weight the profit. Also there is only so much growth promoted by hormones. Upping the number of implants against FDA regulations doesn't ensure more growth than the labeled FDA instructions. So if giving the cow more implants than legally allowed doesn't make them pack on more pounds than the allowed number of implants then why would the producer waist his money? penalties usually out weigh ever taking the risk and as I stated you probably wont get that much more growth for you third and illegal implant at $10 per head of cattle.The USDA does monitor zerenol and trembolone especially DES since it is illegal to use now. It is impossible to test for residue of progesterone, testosterone, and estradiol because there is no way to tell it from the hormones that the animal has produced naturally. this article is biased and uninformative of the actual practices of meat producers.
07:29 PM on 11/08/2009
If those carnivorous really need to eat beef why not raise them like in Kobe, Japan. The famous Kobe cows are massaged, given sake to improve their appetite and also applied on the fur to give them a lustre.
07:57 PM on 11/08/2009
The fact is that cattle raised naturally do not drink beef, do not get fed grain, and are allowed to roam free in pasture. That is why not.

Even Kobe cattle are not fed sake. It is used for massaging and most likely serves to kill lice and flies.

"In accordance with popular belief, the cattle are fed a beer a day, and they are massaged with sake daily and brushed for setting fur, and fed on grain fodder.[5][6][7][8] When the cattle are ready for slaughter, they are slaughtered in a humane and painless customary way[citation needed] in order to keep the meat tender and at its highest flavor..."


And we are omnivores not carnivores. There is a very big difference.
09:27 PM on 11/08/2009
Lol! Some guys don't eat vegetable they just eat meat. I have sort of turned into a herbivorous after twenty years of becoming a vegetarian my canine teeh had receded and gone blunt! I don't have extra stomach though!
Relax this is not a science class. Thanks for the pointers.
07:10 PM on 11/08/2009
NOBODY needs to eat ANY MEAT more than once or twice a week !

NOBODY needs pork products for breakfast, hamburger for lunch, and some kind of beef of chicken for dinner.

07:27 PM on 11/08/2009
NOBODY here said you did. Stop yelling and maybe someone would take you seriously.
This user has chosen to opt out of the Badges program
01:09 PM on 11/08/2009
Does anyone have any data, on young girls, reaching puberty, at very early ages? Could this be related? Girls, 9 & 10, already having menstrual cycles ? When I was young, 13 was considered very young to begin puberty.
03:20 PM on 11/08/2009
Google precocious puberty. Much research appears to be ongoing as it is difficult to experiment on human infants.

I found this article from Lehigh University which seems to give some unbiased answers.


One of the causes that science is taking a very close look at is soy formula and soy products. It would also appear that soy sauce, tempe, and miso are exempt from the problems associated with other soy products due to their long fermentation process.

There are also many conflicting opinions out there from both sides of the coin. But as with everything an informed person reads as much as possible and formulates their own decision based on facts.

I personally do not like additives in my food, If it has a word that I am not familiar with I don't eat it. This is why I do not eat margarine, I challenge you to find one with out soy oil. Butter is made with cream, simple. Humans have been eating butter for thousands of years, quite safely.

I do find it ironic that the increase in varies diseases including obesity coincides with the use of additives like soy high fructose corn syrup, hormones and grain in meat production, preservatives, and many others.
10:43 AM on 11/08/2009
Finally... someone is addressing the issue of hormones in our food source. Now if only we would address this issue with Washington maybe we could open the real cause and debate the use of multiple hormones in our food source??????? The epidemic of obesity in our country needs to be placed where it belongs... with our FDA approved use of “growth hormones” in the animals we eat. For a lousy $80 more in profit we fill our children's bodies full of hormones that make them “grow” into obese unhealthy people to say nothing of the rising autism in our children. One in every 50 boys, all though born health soon become autistic… one in ever 100 girls become autistic. Unbelievable! When as a country are we going to stand up to the food industry, especially the cattle and chicken industry and make them stop using grow hormones in our food source??????? Quick blaming the caloric count of a Big Mac and go after the hormones in the Big Mac!
This user has chosen to opt out of the Badges program
Disabled Vietnam Vet
09:31 AM on 11/08/2009
Well American Corporations have long wanted the USA to be the Worlds Policeman !!!!


My sons were all over 6 ft 2 by age 14. Only one person in our family history was 6 ft tall with the Native American genes being dominate over several generations.

Time to get the food chain clean and keep it clean of drugs !!!!!!
09:30 PM on 11/07/2009
Every day it becomes easier to see corporate government, agribusiness and medicine are working in one accord to destroy first the health of the people, then the people. Three cheers to those who choose health and survival!

Blessings X 10,

02:13 PM on 11/07/2009
Factory meat is the reason why meat has such a bad reputation. Naturally raised meat is a perfectly healthy food.
Angie Cordeiro
We do all things through Grace which empowers us.
03:10 PM on 11/07/2009
In small amounts not everyday three times a day...come on...get off the meat eating band wagon for a bit, your gut will love you for it ;-)
03:16 PM on 11/07/2009
Did I say everyday 3 times a day? No.
12:35 PM on 11/07/2009
Time to GO VEGAN.
People eat meat because they're addicted. Humans DO NOT need to eat meat. You can get a more complete protein from a plant based diet, will be healthier and will spare animals from the horrors of these despicable Factory farms.
02:14 PM on 11/07/2009
Humans DO need to eat meat, but not factory farmed meat.

here are some of the reasons:

vitamin K2
vitamin A
04:56 PM on 11/07/2009
dd, I'm not suggesting people should or shouldn't eat meat, but I don't think people "need" to eat meat and I think most people may eat too much to be healthy (well, I think a lot of people eat too much of EVERYTHING to be healthy). There are healthy people who don't eat meat and a lot of unhealthy ones that do and vice versa.
10:05 PM on 11/07/2009
please do a little more research. i had to have blood test done 2 months ago and they showed my B vitamins were great, iron great (not anemic) plus my hdl/ldl were better than great. I'm a vegetarian. (by the way,i googled carrots and they end up supplying Vit A by the body's ability to convert B-carotene to vitamin A ) so like I said...do more research
08:23 AM on 11/07/2009
Excellent article but if the Japanese read this they will ban US beef import.
Grass Fed Fitness
09:33 AM on 11/07/2009
To not explain the difference between commercially raised (grain fed) meat and grass fed meat is a big disservice to humanity.

Grass fed farming was the only form of farming on the planet until the invention of industrial, mechanized farming which using biologically inappropriate feed, pharmaceuticals and sub-standard/ totally unnatural 'living' conditions that produce diseased animals. Industrial farming methods and their food product have destroyed the soil and health of human beings in a relatively short period of time.

Grain fed animals are unhealthy and not fit for human consumption. You cant get healthy eating sick animals.

Grass fed meat is what humans are designed to eat. If you actually LOOK at nature and how humans have lived symbiotically with it (and not be swayed by religious fanaticism of vegan/vegetarians) - you will see the most effective way to radically improve human health and prevent disease is a return to grass fed farming.

We have a symbiotic relationship with nature and until this is understood & respected we will always have unnecessary health & environmental destruction.
02:14 PM on 11/07/2009
Alison Rose Levy
Connect the Dots www.healthjournalist.com
07:30 AM on 11/07/2009
Thank you, Dr. Epstein: You are truly one of the great pioneers in food dangers and food safety. I was fortunate to meet you at a conference almost a decade ago-- and it's great to see you here.

What you write, as well as Roguer's comments on BSE needs to be factored in when the new Food safety bill comes up for a vote in the Senate. It would be unfortunate if, in the name of safety, that bill makes excessive requirements from small, local, and sustainable growers and raisers of livestock, while leaving unaddressed the dangers of hormone use and safety in large suppliers.

For health information, and action get the free ezine, the Health Outlook at www.health-journalist.com