British Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) member and chemical expert John Verall was appointed to the government's VPC to represent consumer interests. He recently defied a government gag order, revealing evidence from the study which showed a rise in the rates of breast and prostate cancer in the United States, where two-thirds of all cattle are pumped full of hormones.
Of special concern to Verall are the hormones melegestrol acetate, progesterone, testosterone, trenbolone and zeranol. These hormones are known to disrupt the body's natural balance, causing a number of biological effects. "There is clear evidence of the risk to human health posed by these hormones," Verall said, citing research that showed oestradiol is considered to be a cancer risk. Studies show that 97 of every 100,000 U.S. women have breast cancer, whereas only 67 of every 100,000 European women are afflicted.
Verall added that according to recent studies, children are particularly sensitive to these hormones, which can cause "sudden growth or breast development, even at levels which are difficult to detect in the laboratory."
Currently, the European Union prohibits the use of growth or sex hormones to speed the maturity of cattle and fatten them up, but there are doubts as to whether the ban has been enforced, because there is no testing for hormone residue in beef imported to the EU. The U.S. government has attempted to have the ban lifted, a move supported by Prime Minister Tony Blair and his administration.