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8 Shocking Facts about Bovine Growth Hormone

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
A cow is gazing. Bovine growth hormone is considered a GMO and it is banned in some countries.

Since bovine growth hormone received FDA approval in 1993, three disturbing health trends have emerged. Cancer cases continue to increase, obesity has become an epidemic and early onset puberty has become the norm. [1] [2] [3] Related? Maybe, maybe not. You can be the judge as you read through the following 8 facts about the substance known as BGH, or rBGH. Whatever conclusion you arrive at, you'll probably agree that keeping this substance far away from you and your family is good practice.

Facts about Bovine Growth Hormone

1. Bovine Growth Hormone is a GMO

Monsanto created rBGH to stimulate milk production in cows. At least that’s the nice way of saying it. Bovine growth hormone occurs naturally in cows, the same way human growth hormone occurs naturally in humans. To make it more "effective", Monsanto genetically modified BGH to create recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, or rBGH or rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin). This more potent GMO version of BGH is not a naturally occurring substance and does more than increase ol’ Bessie’s milk production.

2. It's Banned in the European Union and Around the World

Originally approved by many countries shortly after its release, rBGH has since been banned by the European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Israel. [4] Most of these bans went into effect in 2000, some earlier. It didn’t take their scientists long to figure out this stuff isn’t quite right.

3. Medical Experts Have Declared it Unsafe

In 2007, Dr. Samuel Epstein exposed the dangers of rBGH in his book What’s in your Milk?. This book reveals the science, politics, and corporate greed behind the creation and approval of rBGH. [5] Since then, many milk producers have decided to sell only rBGH-free milk; and Monsanto sold its rBGH business unit to Eli Lilly. [6] But don’t be fooled, it’s still out there and likely to remain out there and in the food supply until a full ban is established.

4. A Human danger: Contains Insulin Like Growth Factor (IGF-1)

Milk from cows treated with rBGH contains higher levels of IGF-1. The American Cancer Society reports early studies linked IGF-1 as a contributor to tumor development, specifically breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. [7] While research has not clarified the connection, continuing efforts support these studies...

5. Links to Various Types of Cancer

Insulin like growth factor has a multitude of concerns. A recently published scientific review focused on the relation of IGF-1 (and IGF-2) to breast cancer tumor formation. These insulin growth factors are known to stimulate cell differentiation. It appears IGFs have a unique interaction with estrogen which may contribute to tumor development in women. [8]

A 2013 study evaluated the relation of IFG and prostate cancer. Little if any IGF was observed in healthy prostate tissue. Advanced tumors demonstrated a high presence of IGF-1, while smaller localized prostate cancer tumors showed a lesser density of IGF-1. Ultimately the study concluded higher concentrations of IGF-1 do have a correlation to the presence of prostate cancer. [9]

Like prostate cancer, advanced colorectal cancers have shown a direct relationship with higher levels of IGF-1. One particular study demonstrated higher levels in men, patients over 60 and those with cancers stemming from damage to the mucus layer of the colon. The researchers determined IGF-1 levels can indicate and help identify the presence of colorectal cancers. [10]

6. Linked to Lung Cancer Too?

Although not one of the original cancers linked to insulin like growth factor, recent research from China has found that IGF-1 plays a significant role in non-small cell lung cancer. Lung cancer patients in this study had much higher blood serum levels of IGF-1 than the control group. [11] While this study is relatively new, it does suggest IGF-1 may play a larger role in cancers than previously thought. It also raises additional concerns and questions about the role of increased consumption of IGF as a result of genetically modified cows.

7. Diabetes as a Result of BGH?

FDA and Monsanto scientists determined the rBGH used on cows wouldn’t transfer or affect humans, especially through milk. They also stated that bovine growth hormone wouldn’t affect humans even if ingested. A case documented in 2011 suggests otherwise.

A 33 year-old man found himself in the ER reporting a range of symptoms including nausea, headaches, blurry vision, and more. In the course of the examination, the patient admitted taking anabolic steroids –- which included bovine growth hormone. (Apparently bodybuilders know something more about the effect of bovine growth hormone on humans than government and corporate researchers!) As a result of the use, he began a new life with diabetes. [12]

While this is a very unique case, it does show that bovine growth hormone, whether introduced via milk (which we’ve been told it won’t be) or through other means can have serious effects on human health.

8. Other Side Effects: Milk Contamination, Mastitis, and Antibiotics

Cows given rBGH are more likely to develop mastitis, an inflammation and infection of mammary tissue. Early studies found this led to bacteria and potential pus in milk. While laws prohibit distribution of contaminated milk, the simple fact is that milk from cows treated with rBGH are more likely to suffer contamination than others. This concern was one of the reasons the European Union and other countries banned it. [4]

rBGH also causes a wide range of health concerns for cows, requiring the use of antibiotics. Fortunately, most producers label their milk, so it is easy to find non-rBGH/rBST milk. Of course, the easiest way is to buy organic or raw. Better yet – choose organic goat's milk.

References (12)
  1. American Institute for Cancer Research. Number of US Cancer Cases Expected to Rise 55 Percent Higher by 2030. (last accessed (2014-01-02)
  2. Medical News Today. US obesity rates on the rise: 113 million by 2022. (last accessed (2014-01-02)
  3. Elizabeth Weil. New York Times. Puberty Before Age 10: A New "Normal"? (last accessed (2014-01-02)
  4. Food Safety - From the Farm to the Fork. Report on Public Health Aspects of the Use of Bovine Somatotrophin - 15-16 March 199. (last accessed (2014-01-02)
  5. World-Wire. What's in Your Milk? (last accessed (2014-01-02)
  6. New York Times. Eli Lilly to Buy Monsanto’s Dairy Cow Hormone for $300 Million. (last accessed (2014-01-02)
  7. American Cancer Society. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. (last accessed (2014-01-02)
  8. Hawsawi Y, El-Gendy R, Twelves C, Speirs V, Beattie J. Insulin-like growth factor - Oestradiol crosstalk and mammary gland tumourigenesis. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Nov 2. pii: S0304-419X(13)00047-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2013.10.005.
  9. Savvani A, Petraki C, Msaouel P, Diamanti E, Xoxakos I, Koutsilieris M. IGF-IEc expression is associated with advanced clinical and pathological stage of prostate cancer. Anticancer Res. 2013 Jun;33(6):2441-5.
  10. Kukliski A, Kamocki Z, Cepowicz D, Gryko M, Czyewska J, Pawlak K, Kdra B. Relationships between insulin-like growth factor i and selected clinico-morphological parameters in colorectal cancer patients. Pol Przegl Chir. 2011 May;83(5):250-7. doi: 10.2478/v10035-011-0039-z.
  11. Wang Z, Wang Z, Liang Z, Liu J, Shi W, Bai P, Lin X, Magaye R, Zhao J. Expression and clinical significance of IGF-1, IGFBP-3, and IGFBP-7 in serum and lung cancer tissues from patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Onco Targets Ther. 2013 Oct 16;6:1437-44. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S51997.
  12. Geraci MJ, Cole M, Davis P. New onset diabetes associated with bovine growth hormone and testosterone abuse in a young body builder. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Dec;30(12):2007-12. doi: 10.1177/0960327111408152. Epub 2011 May 9.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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