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Progesterone in Food?
January 2004

Q. Are there any foods that can give you a small dose of progesterone?

A. Progesterone is one of the two "female" hormones, along with estrogen. It is present in many different bodily fluids and tissues, and is produced in all mammals. It is a valid concern regarding exposure to additional progesterone as it is a carcinogen in laboratory animal experiments, but no clear association has been proven in humans.

As a medication it is in most birth control pills and is used to treat a number of gynecologic conditions. Adult women produce about 20 mg. per day of progesterone. Progesterone may be used legally in the food industry, and measurable amounts have been found in meat, milk, and butter. Progesterone is also present in some cosmetic products in small amounts, so there is potential for skin exposure from shampoos, conditioners, and other grooming aids. This information has been presented in studies published by NIOSH, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.



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