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Concerned About Oxytocin In Milk?

I was at a session on children’s metabolic health a little earlier today when a participant asked if Oxytocin (OT) in milk was a cause for concern. She mentioned a doctor had mentioned to her that such milk could have negative effects on children and believed it was the cause for what he thought was the premature body maturity of young boys and girls. I thought an article on the subject might be a good idea.

Please scroll down to continue reading.

First, what is Oxytocin. It is a hormone naturally produced in our bodies. I’ve covered it in another context here.

Second, why are cattle injected with OT? It is believed that doing so increases milk production, though this may not be entirely true and there doesn’t seem to be a firm conclusion on the subject. ​1–3​

Third, does injected OT make its way into the milk we and our children end up drinking? Yes, it does, though another opinion is expressed later. ​4​

Fourth, does the OT we end up consuming cause harm? There are two perspectives here.

  1. As per one source, OT injections do not influence OT content in milk. The same source states that whatever OT is present in milk is rapidly degraded on intestinal digestion, which negates the question of its subsequent absorption into the blood stream and therefore the question of negative health consequences does not arise. ​5​
  2. As per another source there is sufficient OT in consumed dairy milk that causes a multi fold rise in blood OT levels, which, based on animal (rat) studies, may cause unwanted reproductive system outcomes in females. ​6​

What do we do at home? We avoid purchasing dairy products from small dairies and prefer larger cooperatives such as Amul, which reduces overall, possible exposure, effectively making it a non-issue in our home.

References

  1. 1.
    Ballou L, Bleck J, Bleck G, Bremel R. The effects of daily oxytocin injections before and after milking on milk production, milk plasmin, and milk composition. J Dairy Sci. 1993;76(6):1544-1549. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(93)77487-1
  2. 2.
    Macuhová J, Tancin V, Bruckmaier R. Effects of oxytocin administration on oxytocin release and milk ejection. J Dairy Sci. 2004;87(5):1236-1244. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(04)73274-9
  3. 3.
    Gorewit R, Sagi R. Effects of exogenous oxytocin on production and milking variables of cows. J Dairy Sci. 1984;67(9):2050-2054. doi:10.3168/jds.S0022-0302(84)81543-X
  4. 4.
    Mishra M, Ali S, Das M. Analysis of oxytocin in milk samples and intake pattern in different age groups of Indian population. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2014;24(5):342-346. doi:10.3109/15376516.2014.910851
  5. 5.
    Pullakhandam R, Palika R, Vemula S, Polasa K, Boindala S. Effect of oxytocin injection to milching buffaloes on its content & stability in milk. Indian J Med Res. 2014;139(6):933-939. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25109729
  6. 6.
    Mishra M, Mishra V, Chaudhuri B, et al. Anomalies in ovary following oral exposure to oxytocin: mechanistic studies. Reprod Toxicol. 2013;40:24-34. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2013.05.004

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