When Milk Does a Body Bad

Why hormone-free milk is catching on.

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But still! Until we know more about hormones and the effect on our health, and particularly the health of growing girls, it's best to stay away from them whenever possible. Exposure to hormones—though not the ones in milk per se—is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. That's why droves of women over 50 have given up hormone replacement therapy. And hormones also fuel the growth of fibroids, which have reached near epidemic proportions, especially in black women.

Until dairy farmers, manufacturers, food chains and the federal government work together to rid our milk supply of hormones like rBST, why expose yourself and your children to excess hormones?

Also, understand there's a distinction between plain milk, milk that contains no rBST, and organic milk —in both the product and the cost. In the grocery store closest to my house, I only have two options: plain or organic, $4.79 a half gallon versus $1.98.

Organic milk is much more expensive, because, according to government standards, it must come from cows that meet four criteria:

--Cannot have been treated with rBST.

--Cannot have been given antibiotics while in a herd. (If a cow is that sick, she must be separated from the group and treated.)

— Must be fed grass or feed that has not been treated with pesticides or grown from genetically modified seeds

— Must be allowed "access to pasture;" in other words, they can graze without being confined in feed lots.

If you're like most people, you're probably thinking, I understand the first three rules, but what does that fourth one have to do with me? Isn't that more about cows than kids?

In the grocery store several more blocks away, along with regular and organic milk, I also have the option of milk from Farmland Dairies. It's not organic but is free of hormones and antibiotics. It's like what's sold at Wal-Mart, Kroger's and served at Starbucks--and it costs $1.98, the same as plain old milk. The labeling distinction used by Farmland Daries is exactly the kind conventional dairy farmers and Monsanto are fighting. But if you can find it, this option saves both money and worry.