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J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Dec 27;54(26):9785-91.

Naturally occurring estrogens in processed milk and in raw milk (from gestated cows).

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Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Veterinary Public Health Division, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The occurrence of the steroid hormones estrone (E1), 17alpha-estradiol (alphaE2), 17beta-estradiol (betaE2), and estriol (E3) in processed bovine milk with different fat contents and in raw milk from (non)gestated cows was investigated. Following liquid extraction, optional enzymatical deconjugation, C18 solid-phase extraction, and derivatization, estrogens were analyzed using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Free and deconjugated E1 (6.2-1266 ng/L) was the major estrogen followed by alphaE2 (7.2-322 ng/L) and betaE2 (5.6-51 ng/L), whereas E3 was detected regularly at the detection limit of 10 ng/L. The lowest and highest concentrations were determined in raw milk from nonpregnant and from cows in the third trimester of gestation, respectively. The estrogen concentration in processed milk coincides with that of raw milk between first and second trimesters, reflecting the contribution of lactating pregnant cows to the final consumable product. The daily intake of total investigated estrogens through milk is 372 ng, which is dramatically more than currently recognized.

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