Tag Archives: comparisons of hormones in foods

Hormones in Beef: Part Three of Three

23 Mar

Hi. I’m not Cole. I’m Karen Coshof.  I co-wrote “The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat” with Cole. The book’s discussion about hormones in beef was part of my contribution to the project.  Here’s  the third and final part of the discussion (with a gentle conclusion)…


Help, I’m Eating Hormones!

Since estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are naturally produced by the bodies of animals, including people and cattle, should you be worried about additional exposure via cattle ear implants? I say no, and here’s why.

Let’s take a look at estrogen. The normal production of human estrogen per day is about 4,000 nanograms (1 nanogram = 1 billionth gram; 1 gram = 1/454th pound) in boys, a little higher in girls, about 100,000 to 150,000 nanograms in men, from 5 to 15 million nanograms in nonpregnant women, and from 4 to 64 million nanograms (or more) in pregnant women.

A 6-ounce serving of beef from a beef animal that has not been implanted contains about 2.6 nanograms; the same serving from an animal that has been implanted will contain about 3.8 nanograms of estrogen. Exact amounts will vary, but remain around these mean numbers.

Looking at some other foods:


8 fluid ounces (one glass) of milk = about 30 ng of estrogen

300 peas = about 330 ng estrogen

3 ounces of cabbage = about 2,000 ng


3 ounces of soybean oil = about 1,680,000 ng
(you read that right!)


And medications: One human birth control pill contains the same amount of estrogen as 105,000 pounds of beef from implanted steers.

So maybe we’re all getting a little too worked up about hormones in beef… (just saying)…