As a young girl I developed early. I reached adult height by the time I was in the second grade. I felt really self-conscious about being so tall. In fact I was often mistaken for my teacher in school photographs. Years later, I found out I had a condition called Precocious Puberty (also known as Precocious Adolescence).
Some girls and boys display signs of puberty such as pubic hair and breast or testicular enlargement at an earlier age than usual. Many girls experience this condition as young as age seven. For young boys symptoms of Precocious Puberty can begin at early as age nine. This condition occurs because the hormones that increase at the time of puberty also cause a rapid increase in growth.
Many experts believe that Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone found in dairy products may be one cause. Recombinant Bovine Growth (rBGH or rBST) is a genetically engineered hormone injected into cows to increase milk production by 8-17%. This quote is taken from Dennis Styne, MD, who wrote in his chapter “Puberty” from the 2007 book Greenspan’s Basic and Clinical Endocrinology:
“One outbreak of gynecomastia [development of enlarged breasts in males] in boys and precocious thelarche [premature development of breast buds in females] in girls in Bahrain was traced to ingestion of milk from a cow given continuous estrogen treatment by its owner to ensure uninterrupted milk production.”
Diane Marty, a journalist, wrote in her April 30, 2007 article “Empowered Shopping Tips From the Green Side of the Aisle,” for E: The Environmental Magazine:
“People don’t recognize the importance of organic dairy products. More and more evidence points to a relationship between hormones in milk and early puberty in teens, preteens and even grade schoolers. If you buy only one organic item for your kids, make it milk.”
One should not only be mindful of “cow juice” consumption but dairy from cheese, ice cream, yogurt, cream, butter, protein powders, spreads, kefir, instant breakfast, and formulas that could be piling up the hormones. Many processed foods also contain milk such as sauces, soups, chocolate candy, caramels, medications, supplements, baked goods, and even salad dressings.
Reading labels can be somewhat like learning a new language. I call this language Allergese. Do you speak Allergese? When food shopping note that the following indicate the presence of milk: artificial butter flavor, butter, butter fat, buttermilk, casein, cottage cheese, cheese cream, ghee, caseinates, curds, custard, half & half, rennet casein, lactose, lactulose, lactoferrin, lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, nougat, pudding, yogurt, whey, sour cream, caramel candies, chocolate, high protein flour, non-dairy products, lactic acid starter culture and flavorings (artificial or natural).
The best thing to do is either completely avoid dairy or purchase from small family farmers who don’t use artificial hormones on their animals. Foods that carry the “USDA-certified organic” label cannot contain any artificial hormones. When purchasing sustainably raised foods without the “organic” label, be sure to check with the farmer to ensure that no additional hormones have been administered.
On the contrary, some experts aren’t buying the idea that milk is to blame for precious puberty they believe that soy or other toxins are more of an issue. I spoke with the Denise de Reyna, the Precocious Puberty Division Consultant for the Magic Foundation, who told me she does not think the hormones from milk are to blame but perhaps environmental causes such as toxins from plastics.
Denise’s first child started developing the symptoms of Precocious Puberty by the age of four. She advises parents to not keep your child’s Precocious Puberty a secret because the child could perceive their situation as being bad or even deadly.
If you are open about it is less scary to the child. If you need help, or want to speak to a parent of a child with Precocious Puberty you can contact The Magic Foundation at (708) 383-0808.