Friday, September 3, 2010

Organic Milk Does NOT Prevent Early Puberty in Girls

Cute girl drinking milk.
I was outraged when Time Magazine said organic milk helped prevent early or "precocious" puberty in girls and recommended that people buy organic milk rather than conventional milk.

It used to be the Time did good research, but they dropped the ball here.

There are some small differences between organic milk and commercial milk. The most notable being residual antibiotics, and residual growth hormone BST (bovine somatotropin).

Residual antibiotics may cause antibiotic resistance diseases, but it is not going to affect maturity of children.

BST is a growth hormone even if cow hormones worked on people, and even if it were not digested in the stomach -- it would make girls (and boys) grow bigger and taller; not more mature. The whole argument about sexual development is misconceived.

BST is politically controversial, but not because of health -- BST is just digested in the stomach like any other protein. The controversy has to do with farmers trying to limit milk supply by prohibiting more productive hormone-receiving cows.

Animal lovers, vegetarians, and vegans claim that BST causes the cows to live in pain due to being too tall and having big udders, and there may be some merit to this point of view. There is not much merit to health effects of BST -- really it is just the farmers trying to limit supply to keep prices up.

Cool looking giant cow, maybe because of bovine somatotropin.
(Actually this is a steer. The largest in the UK.)
There are some who say that because milk comes from lactating cows, it has extra estrogen, but organic milk comes from the same kind of lactating cows. Organic feed is not going to make any difference.

Early puberty in girls is due to chemical additives in the diet (see this post, another), and due to girls being over-weight. Fat girls make more estrogen and go through puberty earlier.

Others say milk generally causes early puberty, due to its fat or other ingredients. As discussed above, milk can make girls (and people generally) fat, and this might lead to early "development" because heavy girls make more hormones. Maybe so, but any food from organic milk to Snicker bars would do the same.

Finally, girls are drinking less milk than their mothers did, but puberty keeps getting earlier. If milk were the problem, puberty would be getting later! The source of early puberty has got to be somewhere else.