The Fate of Synthetic and Endogenous Hormones Used in the US Beef and Dairy Industries and the Potential for Human Exposure


Purpose of Review

Growth-enhancing chemicals used by the beef and dairy industries may be bioavailable to humans via milk, meat, and other environmental matrices. This review evaluates the potential for environmental transport and bioavailability of the active chemical to humans.

Recent Findings

Bovine somatostatin is detectable in milk; however, there is no evidence that the protein persists in the environment nor that it is active in humans. In contrast, steroids are transported through milk and meat to humans where they may exert biological activity. Furthermore, environmental matrices such as raw water and dust may also allow for the environmental transport and bioavailability of steroids to humans.


Endogenous and exogenous steroids can be found in the meat, milk, and waste materials produced by cattle. While the concentrations may be low, exposure to these matrices, most notably dairy products made with whole milk, can be a source of exogenous steroids to humans.

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Correspondence to Alan S. Kolok.

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Alan S. Kolok, Jonathan M. Ali, Eleanor G. Rogan, and Shannon L. Bartelt-Hunt declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Food, Health, and the Environment

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Kolok, A.S., Ali, J.M., Rogan, E.G. et al. The Fate of Synthetic and Endogenous Hormones Used in the US Beef and Dairy Industries and the Potential for Human Exposure. Curr Envir Health Rpt 5, 225–232 (2018).

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  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Exogenous hormones
  • Bioavailability