Young girl with serious health problems from Wal-Mart milk-Unproven!

Young Girl with Serious Health Problems from Drinking Milk From Wal-Mart-Unproven!

Summary of eRumor:

The story of an 11-year-old girl who has had menstrual bleeding since she was 8 and has also started lactating.   The eRumor says it is because she’s been drinking milk injected with rBST, a hormone given to cows to increase their milk production.  The eRumor focuses on Wal-Mart Great Value milk as a source of the rBST and recommends against feeding it to your family.

The Truth:

There is controversy over rBST, which stands for recombinant bovine somatotropin.  It is an artificial growth hormone used in cows.

We’ve not found the family of Marissa, the 11-year old girl referenced in the eRumor.  If she is real her family’s suspicions are worthy of consideration but do not constitute proof that what they describe has been caused by ingesting milk from Wal-Mart.  There are other conditions that can cause early menstruation such as hypothyroidism.  Also, although there are fears, there is not scientific agreement about whether rBST is harmful to humans.

RBST is a synthetic version of bST or BGH, a natural growth hormone in cows which, among other things, affects the amount of milk produced by a dairy cow.  Use of bST to increase milk production has been around since the 1930’s then along then the synthetic version came into popularity. 

Critics of the use of rBST say that it is banned for use in cattle in virtually every major country in the world except the United States.  They point out that there is an increase in health problems in cattle that produce the most milk so the use of rBST should be avoided on that ground.

Supporters say rBST helps dairy farmers with better milk yield and that there has not been any proof that the hormone causes problems in humans.  It is approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Although this eRumor focused on Wal-Mart milk there are several different milk companies that use cattle treated with rBST and Wal-Mart also sells milk from cows that are not injected with it.  Because of the controversy over rBST a lot of the milk products without it are labeled as such and are not hard to find.

In March, 2008, Wal-Mart announced that rBST will no longer be found in milk from either Wal-Mart or Sams Club.

Updated 3/25/08