What’s in your chicken? How non-organic chicken is contributing to hormonal issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome, breast cancer and more.
So you’re trying to eat less red meat, and in doing so you are eating more chicken. You eat out often, so you order salads with chicken, or chicken and veggies, and you think that you’re doing good things for your body and health. You may get lunch several times a week at Whole Foods. You assume the chicken at the salad bar is completely healthy, because, hey, it’s Whole Foods!
You are what you eat. Chickens are what they eat, too. Inorganic chickens consume inorganic feed, and this may be very dangerous for your hormones.
Knowledge is power, so I’m going to get you a bit more buffed.
Pakistani and Australian scientists noted that the people in Pakistan were trying to consume less beef and pork, so the consumption of chicken skyrocketed. These scientists realized that to meet this high chicken demand, poultry producers might be up to some antics.
To grow a chicken to the size of a broiler, ready for human consumption, takes three months. Since the poultry industry had to meet escalating demand, the broilers had to grow faster. To accomplish this, the feed is filled with growth-boosting nutritional and non-nutritional products including steroids, antibiotics, minerals, cholesterol, and arsenic. These growth boosters result in chickens’ growing to maturity in 1-½ months. This is half the normal time of maturation.
These agile thinking scientists wanted to know what was happening to the hormones of the people who eat chickens that are raised on these types of feed. One earlier study had already suggested that eating inorganic chicken might mess with human hormones. These scientists wanted to do a well controlled scientific study and see exactly what consuming inorganic chicken meat that grew so fast, did to estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone—the main sex steroid hormones in both males and females. Remember, these sex steroid hormones are not only about pregnancy or intimacy. They also rule brain health. And gut health. And more.
These scientists devised a remarkable study that was published in January of 2017 in the Pakistani Journal of Pharmaceutical Science. This study blew my mind. It carries a powerful message.
In this investigation, 100 rats were divided into 4 groups.
- 25 rats were fed standard rat chow (the control group),
- 25 rats were fed the inorganic fast-growing chicken feed,
- 25 rats were fed the meat of inorganic chickens that ate that growth boosting feed, and
- 25 rats were fed organic chicken that had not consumed the fast-growing inorganic chicken feed.
The rats were followed for six weeks. Their main sex hormones were tracked and tested.
Blocked progesterone. Rats fed on regular chow or organic chickens did NOT have any issue producing their own natural progesterone hormone. On the other hand, the rats fed the fast-growing feed or the inorganic chickens that ate that feed, produced less, in fact, hardly any, progesterone. These scientists called progesterone the “friendly hormone for the female body” because it protects the growth actions of estrogen as well as supports pregnancy. This experiment showed that eating inorganic chicken can set the scene for hormonal issues.
- Progesterone keeps estrogen acting safer. When progesterone becomes deficient or insufficient, a woman is more at risk of hormonally driven diseases like breast cancer.
- Progesterone is a critical hormone for fertility. Less progesterone means less ability to get pregnant and sustain a pregnancy. Progesterone insufficiency creates a higher risk for miscarriages and perhaps needless trips to infertility clinics.
- Progesterone is an anti-inflammatory hormone for the brain and nervous system. Less or insufficient progesterone means a higher risk for brain inflammation, brain fog, risk of neurodegeneration, insomnia, perhaps migraines and gut issues, and on and on.
Raised estrogen. Rats fed the inorganic feed or the inorganic chicken meat, not only had less progesterone, they had much higher blood levels of estrogen. Higher estrogen in the face of lower progesterone is a recipe for disaster.
Progesterone is supposed to “police” estrogen. But, if you regularly consume inorganic chicken and start to have higher blood levels of estrogen and lower blood levels of progesterone, this policing action is lost. You become more at risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome and severe premenstrual syndrome.
Higher levels of estrogen did NOT occur in rats fed the organic chicken.
Cancer doctor’s who-are-in-the-know should start recommending to breast, uterine and ovarian cancer patients to avoid inorganic meats. We should also avoid them to prevent disease in the first place. However, to make these recommendations, practitioners have to first know this information. (Thus, please pass this blog forward).
The scientists noted that consuming inorganic feed or inorganic chickens, for only six weeks (it happened rapidly), created a hormonal pattern similar to that found in human female teenagers called polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Higher testosterone in girls. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is on the increase in U.S. female teenagers. Young girls with this condition commonly have elevated testosterone blood levels and insufficient progesterone blood levels. This is the pattern seen in the rats fed the inorganic feed and inorganic chicken.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is somewhat like having menopause during the teenage years. These young girls start to experience issues that older women more commonly face. These include resistant obesity, metabolic syndrome (a constellation of issues putting the person more at risk of heart disease and other issues), acne, infertility and a great deal of suffering.
Higher cholesterol. Rats fed the inorganic feed and inorganic chicken also had higher cholesterol levels than rats fed the regular chow and organic chicken meat. In this way, inorganic chicken consumption may be indirectly contributing to our out-of-control obesity epidemic.
Milestones of reproduction changes. Inorganic meats may be a contributing factor for changes we are seeing in milestones of reproduction. In the U.S. we are seeing earlier onset of menstruation, earlier onset of peri-menopause and earlier onset of post-menopause.
Changes in “milestones of reproduction” are a flashing red light for humanity. Something is terribly wrong.
We must start to take protective steps. One call-to-action is to consume organic foods whenever possible, especially meats.
There are other possible issues with regularly consuming inorganic chicken (or animals raised on inorganic food, which often includes highly sprayed grains, corn and with lots of exposure to chemicals like Roundup).
Arsenic & Methylation issues. Many countries still add supplements containing arsenic to poultry feed to prevent parasitic infections and to promote faster weight gain in the chickens. But arsenic can create issues in human tissues.
Once a chick consumes feed that is supplemented with arsenic, the chicken metabolizes (breaks down) the arsenic into toxic metabolites more dangerous than the original arsenic. These break down products can damage natural and important methylation processes in the humans who eat this arsenic containing chicken.
Insulin receptors. In the poultry industry, arsenic-containing supplementation is usually halted five days before slaughter. However, liver samples taken during those five days before slaughter show that there are still alarming levels of arsenic present. Inorganic arsenic has been linked to an increased risk of bladder and lung cancers, and to altering insulin receptors. Arsenic is now being viewed as a contributor to an increased risk of getting type-2 diabetes.
I was a reader on a World Health Organization paper on new causal factors for the type-2 diabetic epidemic. Arsenic’s ability to damage the insulin receptor and contribute to insulin resistance was discussed in detail. By the way, this was almost 20 years ago. Some of this information has been known for a long time. But it can takes decades to trickle down into the clinical arena and your doctor’s awareness.
Thus, you need to arm yourself with protective information and not depend solely on professionals who may not know this data.
I tried to find out what is in inorganic chicken feed in the U.S., but that isn’t easy to do. The industry keeps secrets. For example, there is still rampant illegal use of DES in American beef. DES (diethylstilbestrol) is a powerful synthetic estrogen. It is the most powerful endocrine disrupting estrogenic compound ever invented. It makes beef fatter and tastier. But it’s tremendously unsafe for humans.
DES was banned as a class one carcinogen in the U.S. in 1971. Switzerland is the only country that still tests for DES in beef. About eight years ago, a huge shipment of U.S. beef was shipped for sale to Switzerland. But the Swiss found that this U.S. meat was filled with DES. They rejected it.
The Swiss government shipped this meat over to the estrogen think tank I used to work with, for the think tank to analyze. The meat was “mysteriously” lost in route. My mentor, John McLachlan PhD, wanted me to sleuth out what happened to the meat, but it remains a mystery. It’s probably all about money!
At some of our e.hormone conferences sponsored by the Center for Bioenvironmental Research (where I was a hormone scholar at Tulane University), presentations revealed that certain additives and hormones are “grandfathered” into meats. Much of the time, farmers are not aware of these hormones and additives that are going into their cattle. Since they are grandfathered in, they don’t have to be on the label! How can that be in this time of transparency, but it is!
There seems to be a lot of potential for scam in the meat industry. Who suffers? Your hormones. And waistline. Also possibly your risk of getting other serious diseases.
So what’s left to eat? Is it all doom and gloom?
There’s hope. This hope comes out of a study I discussed in Hormone Deception, one of the first books on endocrine disruption on how to protect yourself and loved ones. Danish male farmers who only ate 25% of their diet as organic, had a 43% higher sperm count versus farmers who never ate organic. These farmers only ate one out of four meals as organic, yet they still had better health outcomes.
This study (and others) suggests that just “cleaning up your act” and eating organic more often, not 100% of the time, is protective.
Where to get organic vs. non-organic meat is a huge issue. Organic meats are much healthier, but aren’t always easy to find. Online sources at the moment seem the best option if your local Whole Foods doesn’t carry a lot of organic meat (although with Amazon at the helm of Whole Foods now, you might soon be able to order it wherever you are).
Some companies that produce good organic meats include:
- Nature’s Rancher (I enjoy turkey burgers so I buy my organic turkey from this company),
- Applegate Organics (by the way they have great sausage that comes without casing), Organic Prairie,
- Tecumseh Farms, and
- The Organic Meat Co.
Labels. Look for labels that say:
- “Certified Organic,”
- “Certified Humane,”
- “Global Animal Partnership,” and
- “Animal Welfare Approved (AWA).”
- NOTE: The term “natural” sounds good but has no regulatory, or legal meaning.
Since inorganic chicken (and probably other meats) tamp down progesterone, this is a huge concern. Less progesterone can lead to hormonal issues. Insufficient progesterone might also be linked to neurobehavioral issues. This is because progesterone is also a brain-calming and anti-inflammatory hormone. Indirectly, inorganic meats might contribute to issues like impulsivity control, attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome, autism spectrum and other similarly increasing kid disorders.
It’s no longer worth the risks. Go organic!
From . Pak J Pharm Sci. 2017 Jan;30(1 Suppl):257-261.
The use of high-dose estrogens for the treatment of breast cancer. Maturitas , 95: 11-23. 2017.
Daily consumption of commercial chicken feed and meat lead to alterations in serum cholesterol and steroidal sex hormones in female rats. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2017 Jan;30(1 Suppl):257-261.
Industrial endocrine disruptors and polycystic ovary syndrome. J. Endocrinol. Invest, 36: 1105-1111.
Methylated Phenylarsenical Metabolites Discovered in Chicken Liver. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017 Jun 6;56(24):6773-6777.
Roxarsone, inorganic arsenic, and other arsenic species in chicken: a U.S.-based market basket sample. Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Jul;121(7):818-24.
Semen Quality Among Members Of Organic Food Associations in Zealand, Denmark. Lancet 347(90180:1844, 1996.