Okay. Hormones are used in some beef farming. But just how much hormone is used? And how does that compare to the amount of hormone that cattle (and people, for that matter) already have?
The Iowa Beef Center has a great article about how hormones are used in beef farming. This article also includes information on the amounts of hormones in some common foods.
In 1.1 pounds of beef from cattle that have not been treated with hormones, there are 5 nanograms of estrogen. (There are 500 grams in 1.1 pounds. There are one billion nanograms in 1 gram. So we’re talking about a very small amount of hormone here.)
In 1.1 pounds of beef from cattle that have been treated with hormones, there are 7 nanograms of estrogen. So while the difference between 5 and 7 may sound like a lot, remember we’re talking in billionths of grams. Teeny tiny.
The recommended serving size of beef is 3 ounces. There is 0.9 nanograms of estrogen in 3 ounces of beef from an animal that did not have a hormone implant; there are 1.3 nanograms of estrogen in 3 ounces of beef from an animal that did have a hormone implant.
What about some other foods? You might be surprised…
In the same amount of eggs (1.1 pounds) there are 555 nanograms of estrogen. (Granted, you’re probably not going to eat a full pound of eggs in one sitting, but you shouldn’t be eating a full pound of beef in one sitting either.)
1.1 pounds of white bread has 300,000 nanograms of estrogen.
And 1.1 pounds of tofu has 113,500,000 nanograms of estrogen.
People have lots of estrogen, too. An adult male will produce 136,000 nanograms of estrogen every day. A non-pregnant adult female will produce around 513,000 nanograms of estrogen a day. And a pregnant woman will produce 19,600,000 nanograms of estrogen a day.
(Depending on the source, the exact numbers for hormone amounts differ a little across publications and websites, but they are similar across the board.)
As a final note, all the hormone implants used in farming do undergo rigorous testing to be sure they are safe both for the animals and people. All products must be approved by the FDA before they are used.
I am sure I haven’t answered every question you might have about hormone use in beef animals. Help me understand what your concerns are, and ask your questions in the comments.