Perhaps you’ve heard it said that beef contains too many hormones. But when you hear that – an Extension Educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says there are some things to keep in mind. For one – it’s important to remember that all multi-cellular organisms contain hormones. Some meat production systems may use hormone implants to increase efficiency – keeping prices down and reducing the environmental impact of production – which causes the meat to have slightly more of the hormone estrogen than the non-implanted – to the tune of 1.9 versus 1.3 nanograms per three-ounce serving. UNL Extension Educator Bruce Treffer says hormones – when eaten – are digested, broken down and largely neutralized so they don’t act as hormones anymore. But even if they did – he says the 1.9 nanograms of estrogen in implanted beef is miniscule when you consider that a child’s body produces around 50-thousand nanograms of estrogen per day. A non-pregnant adult female will produce 480-thousand nanograms of estrogen per day on its own. Treffer also points out there are 225 nanograms of estrogen in a three-ounce serving of potatoes, 340 nanograms of estrogen in a three-ounce serving of peas and two-thousand nanograms of estrogen in a three-ounce serving of cabbage. So it doesn’t make much sense to blame hormones for our kids growing faster and reaching puberty earlier.
Dr. Frank Biro of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital says body mass index is the biggest single factor for the onset of puberty. Treffer says it’s easy to blame hormones or just meat, or food in general for health problems because the general public is removed from actual food production and processing.