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snopes
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Comment: I've heard from two different people that normal milk contains
hormones that can contribute to early menarche, therefore young girls
should consume only organic milk to help prevent this.

I've done some googling to back up this story and found the following:
http://www.007b.com/early_puberty.php
http://www.rense.com/general26/milk.htm

There are also lots of unconfirmed or "needs more research" articles.

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Sara at home
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The first article suggests increased milk consumption as a factor. The USDA says otherwise. Milk consumption peaked in the 1940's. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Amberwaves/June03/DataFeature/

The second article discusses that hormones are naturally occurring. So wouldn't the young women of the '40's who drank the most milk have been exposed to the most hormones?

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My mother believes this, as well. But it isn't just milk, it is meat, as well, as is stated in the first site (cite?).

But I don't know for sure if it is demonstrably true.

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"Normal" milk may contain rBST/rBGH which is a synthetic cow hormone that helps the cow produce milk longer.
My understanding of milk production is that BST/BGH is neccessary to the natural production of milk so these hormones to some extent will be found in the milk.(So there is no "Hormone Free" milk.) The differnce between the natural hormones and the synthetic ones is that the sythetic ones are made by using recombinant DNA techniques which many people distrust and question the ethics and safety of.
A whole other side of this issue is the animal husbandry side though with questions about the ethics of giving an animal potentially cancer-causing/life shortening chemicals (an issue differnt that the ethics of making the hormones)for an increase in milk production.

But to answer the question: Yes there are hormones in milk, but I think the hormones would be found in organic milk as well as "normal" milk, the difference being whether there are the r or the non r variety.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/15/earlyshow/health/main573443.shtml

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Nightfall
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My biology professor a few semesters ago pointed out the stomach acid found in humans is strong enough to alter the shape of any protien hormones, which is virtually every hormone known, to the point where it can't do its function any more. Therefore, humans, or any carnivores for that matter, are not affected by the hormones of their food, well beyond gaining possible nutrition from it.

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Nightfall:
My biology professor a few semesters ago pointed out the stomach acid found in humans is strong enough to alter the shape of any protien hormones, which is virtually every hormone known, to the point where it can't do its function any more. Therefore, humans, or any carnivores for that matter, are not affected by the hormones of their food, well beyond gaining possible nutrition from it.

Now wait. How did he explain all those women on hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills which are generally taken in pill form?

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Nightfall
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
quote:
Originally posted by Nightfall:
My biology professor a few semesters ago pointed out the stomach acid found in humans is strong enough to alter the shape of any protien hormones, which is virtually every hormone known, to the point where it can't do its function any more. Therefore, humans, or any carnivores for that matter, are not affected by the hormones of their food, well beyond gaining possible nutrition from it.

Now wait. How did he explain all those women on hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills which are generally taken in pill form?
Don't know, didn't think to ask. I suppose it could be a couple of things, but I should point out that I am not a biology major so your milage may vary. First it could be that the hormone replacement pills are designed to survive the stomach acid. Secondly, it could be less of they are providing whole hormones to the subject, but rather are providing requisite ammino acids which then are used by the person's body to build the complete hormones.

ETA: I suppose that he could be wrong, but because of the fragile nature of protiens, I tend to agree with him.

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Dark Jaguar
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There's also the matter of hormones not actually DOING the changes themselves, but are rather just messengers that tell your body to do the changes (your body is still what's doing everything, the hormone just tells it to, not even HOW to). So, if this hormone isn't present in humans at all, ever, then I would have to assume it can't possibly have any effect on humans since our tissues wouldn't be designed to react to them.
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Doc J.
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Another theory is that pesticides contaminating grazing land are estrogenic - they are not metabolised and being highly lipid-soluble, tend to concentrate in cow's milk. Because no single agent is above WHO levels, the milk is passed as safe, however, there are numerous potential xenoestrogens which may act additively to produce an estrogen-like response in the body.

As I say . . . just a theory.

Oh . . . and the basis of my PhD.

PS - Dark Jaguar - there is plenty of scope for cross reactivity when you talk about mammalian hormones - often the species differences boil down to just one or two amino acids

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ranran yousei
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Well, its' kind of funny... there's my friend who raised her daughter on organic foods, and as a vegan (so, no dairy)... and her daughter started menstrating two weeks before her tenth birthday.

And then there's my family:

My nieces: raised on an average diet, including milk and dairy (none of which is oraginc), all started at 13...

My daughters: raised on a some-what organic diet (some things are organic, somethings aren't), including organic milk and dairy. Eldest daughter is 12&1/2, and still has not hit puberty fully, she is also quite slender but is starting to "fill out", so I expect it within the next year.

When I was growing up, we were told to expect to start between the ages of 9 and 13 (for the average), some might be earlier, some later. Ages 11-12 seemed the most average back then (20 years ago).

So.. what is "early puberty"? Is it before the age of 13? 11? 10?

Here, it says before 8 years old is "early". It does say that recent studies show puberty occuring at "increasingly earlier ages", but really doesn't explain.

This site talks about how it's the pre-menarche signs that are occuring at younger ages. (My elementary school best friend, and two other girls I knew, started developing breasts at the age of 7, I don't find this new), but the average start of menarche is the same as it has been for the last 40 years.

This one mentions things like obesity and environmental factors (like hormone like substances), but the overall averages it's giving don't make it seem like a wide-spread "everyone's starting much earlier than we did" type thing.

The majority of girls I know of aren't starting any early today than the girls did when I was younger. There are those that start younger, but then, there were ones that did then too.

I keep hearing about how "girls are starting younger...." but I haven't seen it, except with the rare example (just as it was in "my day"). It might be that I only see a small sample of society, and not the whole view of it all.

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strange_little_girl
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I've seen a few stories about the eostrogens from the pill being found in tap water and having a negative effect on male fertility. Is it possible that those can contribute to early puberty?

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Sara at home
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What happened to the theory that increased artificial light was promoting the earlier onset of puberty?

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Doc J.
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quote:
Originally posted by strange_little_girl:
I've seen a few stories about the eostrogens from the pill being found in tap water and having a negative effect on male fertility. Is it possible that those can contribute to early puberty?

I think that one has been largely discounted now - although possibly it's making a comeback.

quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
What happened to the theory that increased artificial light was promoting the earlier onset of puberty?

That's one I haven't heard of [Confused]
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wee wifey
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quote:
Originally posted by ranran yousei:
Well, its' kind of funny... there's my friend who raised her daughter on organic foods, and as a vegan (so, no dairy)... and her daughter started menstrating two weeks before her tenth birthday.


So....did she drink Soya milk then?

correct me if I'm wrong Doc, but doesn't Soya have oestogenic properties?

little miss

ETA; as to the OP, sounds reasonable to me, but so what if it does? pain in the bum- but is 10 that different to 11 or 13?

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc J.:
quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
What happened to the theory that increased artificial light was promoting the earlier onset of puberty?

That's one I haven't heard of [Confused]
Yeah, that was what I was taught in classes back in the mid 70's. Onset of menses became earlier and earlier as countries developed and got electricity. Onset had some connection to the amount of light girls were exposed to. And then there was the improved diet theory. Girls in developing countries had earlier onset as their diets improved.

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Doc J.
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quote:
Originally posted by little miss:


correct me if I'm wrong Doc, but doesn't Soya have oestogenic properties?

Sure does. Soy is full of weakly estrogenic flavones. While this is unlikely to be the sole cause, it could well be a contributing factor.

This is thought to be part of the reason that Japanese women traditionally have such a low incidence of breast cancer.

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Doc J.
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quote:
Originally posted by Sara at home:
Yeah, that was what I was taught in classes back in the mid 70's. Onset of menses became earlier and earlier as countries developed and got electricity. Onset had some connection to the amount of light girls were exposed to. And then there was the improved diet theory. Girls in developing countries had earlier onset as their diets improved.

I can buy the diet hypothesis. Poor nutrition retards development and therefore delays puberty. In evolutionary terms this would be beneficial, since malnourished women would be unlikely to produce healthy offspring.

Conversely, increased body fat tends to correlate with increased circulating estrogen, so increaing rates of obesity may also be a cause.

As with so many developmental condtions, there are potentially countless contributing factors.

Still can't work out the link with light - I'll have to look into that one.

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Sara at home
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc J.:
Still can't work out the link with light - I'll have to look into that one.

Check it out. I did a quick search and only easily found info on shorter cycles. I don't have time to do more, gotta run. But those were the working theories a few decades ago.

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wee wifey
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I suspect the light theory is something to do with "biological clocks"

before electricity people would have fewer daylight hours. With the introduction of electricity they were effectively "older" as they as they had seen more hours of light?

I pressume this is the basis of the theory- however I may be completely off.

little miss

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ranran yousei
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quote:
Originally posted by little miss:
So....did she drink Soya milk then?

Rice milk, actually. As I recall, her daughter didn't like the taste of soy. Can't say I blame her. Btw, my eldest drank soy milk for her first few years after weaning due to a problem digesting cow's milk (not the lactose), which she overcame with gradual introductions.

quote:
correct me if I'm wrong Doc, but doesn't Soya have oestogenic properties?
Soy has what are called "phytoestrogens" (specifically, isoflavones), compounds that are similar to our own estrogen, enough so that they can mimic their action in the body.

Here's the deal though, for something like soy to have a significant hormonal effect, you need to ingest a lot. Not a glass or two a day of soy milk. I mean, like every meal having a nice heaping serving. This is why soy pills, and other phytoestrogen supplements, are popular for menopausal and PMS symptoms.

Soy is only a part of a healthy diet consumed (traditionally) by Japanese women that has lead to a lower instance of things such as breast cancer. It is not the sole dietary savior.

If soy caused early pubescence, why wouldn't we hear of how Japanese girls start puberty at a much younger age than American girls?

To give you some idea:

Japanese girls average menarche.

Admittedly, not a terribly accurate way of doing things ("Do you remember when...?"), but it gives a pretty good idea, and the ages aren't terribly different than what I linked above.


Here's and interesting one: weight related menarche.

See, as I understood it, a girl must reach a certain weight (or have a certain percentage of body fat) before she can achieve menses. That study basically shows, that girls are only younger by a few months (the horror!), and is suggesting that weight is strongly associated in that 'drop' in age.

We make some amount of estrogen in our fat stores. I'll bet that not a lot of people knew that. This is one reason that the body starts to store fat at/around menopause. Studies are showing that some of that extra weight is protective to a woman's cognitive processes and her bone health. Too much, of course, causes more problems than helps. So gaining an extra ten pounds during menopause isn't so bad.

This is why I mentioned my eldest having always been slender (read: stick), and is starting to "fill out". She's not only developed "buds", as it were, but in the last six months has started to form rounder legs (thighs are filling in) and a rounder seat cushion. (She used to tease her younger sister for having a "big butt", which she doesn't have, my eldest just didn't have a butt [Big Grin] ). Hence why I said, I'm expecting menarche within the next year. *cry*

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strange_little_girl
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Early puberty linked to shampoos

TV watching may hasten puberty -linking higher levels of artificial light sources to lower melatonin levels leading to early puberty

effects of early puberty

Little Miss-puberty is hard enough to deal with at the average age and even harder to deal with at a younger age and may have long term physical effects.

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CatPurrson
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Actually, estrogen and testosterone aren't protein hormones, so they're not digested in the stomach. They're steroids, which are constructed out of cholesterol and... other bits. (Can't remember all the biochemistry...) Insulin, OTOH, is a protein hormone, and therefore is destroyed in the stomach. That's why you can't get insulin in pill form-- yet.

As far as hormone levels in milk causing early menarche, I don't really buy it. Aren't kids actually drinking *less* milk these days? And wouldn't these hormones cause feminization (sp?) in boys?

I think the "better diet" theory is more plausible. Also, wasn't there a thing on the news a couple of years ago about girls going into EXTREMELY early puberty (~5yo) and suspicion was placed on placental hair products? It's been quite a while since I saw that.

CatPurrson

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Doc J.
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quote:
Originally posted by CatPurrson:
As far as hormone levels in milk causing early menarche, I don't really buy it. Aren't kids actually drinking *less* milk these days? And wouldn't these hormones cause feminization (sp?) in boys?

Some people think it is (causing femministaion in boys). There have certainly been studies that have shown an increase in cryptorchidism and other genital malformations, and increases in testicular tumours . . . plus there's the concern over falling sperm counts.

The link to environmental estrogens hasn't been proven, but it remains an area of considerable research.

Oh, and it's not just chemicals in milk. Environmental estrogens permeate pretty much all levels of the food chain.

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strange_little_girl
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Cat Purrson, the link in my above post "early puberty linked to shampoos" is a new scientist link talking about placental shampoos.

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Tethys
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The impression I get from having studied this a bit in college is that it's mainly down to body fat percentage. Makes perfect sense, as there's no sense ovulating and wasting all that energy if you haven't got enough energy stored to sustain a pregnancy. For the same reasons, very thin women (anorexics, and many gymnasts and ballerinas) stop menstruating unless they put some weight on. As for the milk-drinking, did milk back in the 40s contain all the extra hormones it does now?
For what it's worth, me and my friends started around 12. My mother said she was 16, and that was normal then. My sister has been warned that her daughter might start any time from 7 onwards. Probably not too likely, but it's a scary prospect all the same - she is just a baby really.
Oh, and with regard to the light - surely if you live in a house with electricity and a TV, you are probably richer and better-fed than someone without these things. And if you spend all your time watching TV, you might hit that critical body-fat threshold a little sooner? Just a theory. [Smile]

A little off-topic, but you'll never guess what I saw in the shop the other day. Special milk, from the morning milking only, so it has more melatonin. You're supposed to drink it at night to help you sleep.

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Sara at home
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Today's (Monday, Nov. 8th) NBC Nightly News' last segment is on fish in Colorado which have both male and female "components". Lost of females, males with female stuff. The blame it on the estrogen and estrogen mimicers in the water. I'll look for the story on the website later. But if you're in the west, check out the news show.

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You know after reading all of the posts and reading all of the links, I am dumb-founded . This may sound odd, but I always thought genitics played a big part in when you became a "woman" , you know my mother started developing breasts at 9, and so did her mother, so no big surprise when I did too. They also started menses at about 10, same as me. They each, however, grew up in a radicaly diffrent time period, my grand mother in the early '20s, my mother in the '40s and I in the 70's and early 80's. Also in diffrent areas of the south. So my question is, how where we so simular in our functions when the nutrition values
and supply of meat and dairy were so diffrent? If you go by some of the studies my grand mother should have been in her mid teens, my mother in her early teens and I just starting mine. I guess I was just trying to sort this info out in my mind. Sorry to revive an almost dead post.

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