FAQ: What Is rBGH?

Q: Sometimes I see dairy products labeled “made with milk from cows not treated with rBGH.” What is rBGH, and should I only be buying products that do not contain it?

A: rBGH stands for Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone and is a man-made hormone injected into dairy cows to increase their milk production by 10 to 15 percent. rBGH (sometimes also listed as rBST) has been legal in the U.S. since 1993, but several other countries including Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand have completely outlawed the hormone, not willing to take the risk of ingesting milk from cows pumped full of chemicals and genetically engineered hormones. When the FDA approved rBGH use for dairy cows, there had only been one study done regarding its safety for human consumption. The study was done on 30 rats, and lasted only 90 days. The company who conducted the study was none other than Monsanto, the same group who has been heavily protested for years due to its GMO-filled products.

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When deciding whether to buy rBGH-free dairy products or not, you should consider the possible side effects of drinking milk from cows treated with this hormone. Two of the biggest questions are:

1. Does consuming products of rBGH-treated cows increase the growth hormone IGF-1 in humans?

“Milk from rBGH-treated cows contains higher levels of IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1). While humans naturally have IGF-1, elevated levels in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancer. Although no direct connection has been made between elevated IGF-1 levels in milk and elevated IGF-1 levels or cancer in humans, some scientists have expressed concern over the possibility of this relationship.” source 

2. Cows treated with rBGH develop udder infections more often than those that aren’t treated with it, meaning they are put on antibiotics more often. When humans ingest milk of the cows injected with large amounts of both rBGH and antibiotics, are they potentially putting themselves in danger of antibiotic resistance?

“To treat mastitis outbreaks, the dairy industry relies on antibiotics.  Critics of rBGH point to the subsequent increase in antibiotic use (which contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria) and inadequacies in the federal government’s testing program for antibiotic residues in milk.” source 

In addition to potentially being harmful to humans, I also worry about the animals’ safety when treated with rBGH. This fact sheet lists the side effects of using rBGH on cows, for me it is even more motivation to quit buying products containing milk from rBGH animals altogether.

Like always, I believe it is best to go with your most natural option when buying food. Because rBGH is required to be listed on the label if included in the product, it is not hard to avoid. Also, check out the chart below created by the Center for Food Safety to see a list of products made without the milk from rBGH-treated cows. 

Certified Organic Produced Without rbGH May be Produced with rbGH
Alta Dena Organics
Butterworks Farm
Harmony Hills Dairy
Horizon Organic
Morningland Dairy
Natural by Nature
Organic Valley Dairy
Radiance Dairy
Safeway Organic Brand
Seven Stars Farm
Straus Family Creamery
Stonyfield Organic
Wisconsin Organics
National
Alta Dena
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Brown Cow Farm
Crowley Cheese of Vermont
Franklin County Cheese
Grafton Village Cheese
Great Hill Dairy
Lifetime Dairy
Stonyfield Farms
Yoplait yogurtsWest Coast
Alpenrose Dairy
Berkeley Farms
Clover Stornetta Farms
Joseph Farms Cheese
Sunshine Dairy Foods
Tillamook Cheese
Wilcox Family FarmsMidwest
Chippewa Valley Cheese
Erivan Dairy Yogurt
Promised Land Dairy
Westby Cooperative CreameryEast Coast
Blythedale Farm Cheese
Crescent Creamery
Derle Farms (milk with “no rbST” label only)
Erivan Dairy Yogurt
Farmland Dairies
Oakhurst Dairy
Wilcox Dairy (rbST-free dairy line only)
Colombo (General Mills)
Dannon
Kemps (aside from “Select” brand)
Land O’ Lakes
Lucerne
Parmalat
Sorrento

 

Look for the "not from cows treated with rBGH or rBST " label!

Look for the “not from cows treated with rBGH or rBST ” label!

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FAQ: What Are Parabens?

Q: I’m always looking for paraben-free products but I have a confession. I don’t exactly know what parabens are. I know they are supposedly not good for you, but why is that? What are they?

A: Great question! Don’t feel bad, you’d be surprised at how many people avoid products containing parabens, SLS, phthalates, and phosphates without really knowing what they are or why they are potentially harmful.

Parabens are preservatives that actually go by several different names- you will probably never just see the word “paraben” written on an ingredient list. Two common parabens are propylparaben and parahydroxybenzoate, but there are several others. Parabens are used in most cosmetics and skin care products in order to keep them from going bad or spoiling. So in that sense, parabens are useful because they help our favorite products have a longer shelf life. But in recent years, there has been much controversy over the safety of these chemicals.

beauty-16-paraben

Similar to BPAs, Parabens have been known to mimic estrogen which leads some scientists to believe that they may be a contributing factor to breast cancer. One of the scientists who it very outspoken about the possible dangers of parabens is Philippa Darbre of the University of Reading in England. In 2004, Darbre and a team of researchers discovered parabens in 18 of the 20 samples of cancerous breast tissue in women. This is not evidence that parabens caused the breast cancer, but it was a warning bell- a sign that maybe parabens should be studied further before being used so freely by both companies and consumers.

“We’ve known for more than 25 years that estrogen exposure is linked to breast cancer development and progression; it is the reason tamoxifen [commonly prescribed to women with breast cancer] is used to disrupt estrogen receptors,” says Darbre. “So it is not such a leap to be concerned that repeated, cumulative, long-term exposure to chemicals that weakly mimic estrogen might be having an impact.”

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Another alarming  study had several young, healthy, men put lotion containing parabens on their bodies. Just a few hours later, those same parabens were detected in their urine, meaning it took a matter of hours for the chemicals to completely absorb into their bodies.

So what are your options? How can you get quality, reliable, long lasting skin and body care products without exposing your body to an excessive amount of parabens? You’ll be happy to hear that paraben-free products are becoming more and more common. As companies research the downside to these preservatives, they are revamping their current products and making them more consumer friendly, and most importantly, safe. In fact, ULTA has an entire portion of their website dedicated to paraben-free makeup.

Say Yes!, Everyday Shea, Hugo Natural’s, Tarte, Coastal Classic Creations, Alba, Burt’s Bees, and Kiss My Face are just a few companies who don’t use parabens or other nasties, and have fabulous products you can find online and in stores.

Do you have any questions or need product recommendations? Send us a comment either on this post, or through our comment/question page!

By Courtney Perry