Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.
Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death for American woman, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cheese has been implicated in the problem because a lot of commercial dairy milk comes from cows treated with hormones, which can end up in the milk. A group of doctors has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add a warning to label cheese to caution to consumers that it contains hormones that may increase the risk of breast cancer.
The cheese making process can concentrate some of the growth hormones like IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), which is naturally produced and helps key cells reproduce and survive, it also promotes growth and survival in unhealthy cells. Research has linked this to an increased risk of breast cancer. The saturated fat in most cheese has also been under scrutiny and believed to contribute to the issue, since studies have found that specifically high-fat dairy raises the risk of breast cancer mortality.
The research on the health impact of cheese is very mixed. Other research has found that cheese is actually associated with health benefits, like lowering the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Low-fat dairy products may actually have health benefits. The question is, if the hormones that are used in cattle are causing adverse effects in humans, why is there not a ban on the use of the hormones in question? Which hormones are being used, and under whose oversight does that fall?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports the American agricultural economy to provide a safe, sufficient, and nutritious food supply for the American people. The USDA mainly oversees meat, poultry, and eggs. The FDA is a division of the U.S. Department of Health, which regulates drugs, dietary supplements, and ensures that the foods people eat in the U.S. are safe, wholesome, sanitary, and properly labeled. It is the FDA that approves and labels the steroid hormone drugs for use in beef cattle and sheep and determines that the drug is safe for the animals, the environment, and for humans to consume. No steroid hormone implants are approved for growth purposes in dairy cows, veal calves, pigs, or poultry. The hormone used in dairy cows is recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).
The level of tolerance differs in each individual and there are many factors that determine who is susceptible to increased risk of cancer. We cannot blame any illness on one particular food. I love cheese and it is a good source of protein, but all cheese is not created equal. Choose your cheese wisely according to your particular tolerance and taste. Cheese can be a part of a healthy well-balanced diet and most people will be fine if consuming no more than two servings per day. As with everything else we consume, moderation is the key.
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