Lack of Biologically Active Estrogens in Commercial Cow Milk

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Journal of Dairy Science


milk, cow's milk, dairy science, milk estrogens, estrogenic activity, uterine weight

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Recently, many studies have investigated potential estrogenic compounds in the human diet. Several of these investigations have studied cow milk, a mainstay of the diets of both young and old. In vitro studies have determined that estrogens can be found in milk, and that the concentration of estrogen may be correlated to the fat content in the milk. Regardless, the majority of these studies have concluded that the levels of estrogens in milk are too low to have a physiological effect. However, a recent study found that commercial 1% cow milk was uterotrophic in rats, suggesting that it contained biologically significant levels of estrogen. Using the rat model, we tested milk samples from commercial sources and with varying fat content for estrogenic activity. Ovariectomized female rats were given milk ad libitum for a period of 2 wk. After 12 d of treatment, rats were tested sequentially in an open field and an elevated plus maze to determine any effect of milk on anxiety levels. Upon completion of the behavior testing, uterine weights were examined. Regardless of milk type, no difference was observed in daily volume of milk consumed. Contrary to previous publications, no differences existed in either the behavior or the uterine weights between animals that consumed any milk type and the negative controls. These results demonstrated that none of the commercial milk types that we tested contained biologically significant estrogenic activity.