Milk and Testosterone: Does the Consumption of Dairy Products Affect Androgens?

Milk and many other dairy products have been under some heavy demonization recently. What used to be the favorite go-to health drink of both, the alt-med people and normal people, is suddenly seen as something that barely fits human consumption, and apparently now also destroys your health.

Like always, the truth isn’t as straight-forward as its presented and there are several positive – as well as negative – effects to dairy consumption.

The main component of most dairy products: whole cows milk, consists of;

Based solely on the macronutrient and micronutrient amounts and ratios, whole milk would be close to the ‘optimal food’ for anyone who’s goals include muscle gains and high testosterone levels.

However, with the good there is also some bad:

Dairy Products and Testosterone

milk and testosterone and estrogen levelsLiving my whole life in Finland – which is a country with World’s 2nd highest rate of dairy consumption – I’ve drank a lot of milk on a daily basis for the most part of my life, without ever even questioning about any of its health benefits.

In here, milk is considered a super drink, and if you dare say anything bad about it, prepare for a shit storm of epic proportions.

However, few months ago I started thinking about the effect of milk on testosterone levels. After all it comes out of a cows breasts, and is pretty high in mammalian estrogen.

Would this off-set the pro-testosterone effects of all the macronutrients, minerals and vitamins in dairy products? Could milk actually end up reducing testosterone?

Cows are kept pregnant for upwards of 300 days of the year, and most of the milk on the market comes from these pregnant cows (naturally, as that’s when they produce the most milk). The problem is that the amount of female sex hormones (estrogens) in milk increase when the cow is kept pregnant for longer periods of time. According to a bunch of Mongolian researchers, the milk of a cow that is at the late stages of pregnancy can contain up to 33 times more estrogen than that of non-pregnant cows.

Roughly 60 different hormones can be identified from cows milk (including the various estrogens and their metabolites which everyone are freaking out about, but also testosterone which we all love so much), and according to this study, drinking pregnant cows milk can account to a staggering 60-70% of our endogenous estrogen exposure. Not good news at all…

…To what extent does that affect your bodily levels of estrogen and testosterone?

According to a study published in 2012, milk contains high amounts of estrogens and their metabolites, however they’re almost fully inactivated by the liver and the gastrointestinal tract. Good news huh?…

…Well, not so fast. According to a Japanese study, drinking cows milk results in increased serum estrogen and progesterone levels, which suppressed GnRH secretion from the brain and results in lowered testosterone secretion in men and prepubertal boys during a 21-day study period.

Another study from Ganmaa et al. found out that when Mongolian kids switch their milk into the kind from US, their estrogen levels shoot up. This is likely caused by the difference in milk producing between the countries, in Mongolia cows are kept pregnant for much shorter duration during the lactation period.

Supporting the theory that it would be the exogenous hormones to blame for the possible T-lowering effects of dairy, are these two studies on milks effect on sperm health:

  • In the first study, physically active men drank full-fat milk and their overall sperm quality significantly decreased
  • In the second study, consumption of low-fat and skimmed milk increased sperm volume and mobility

Since the exogenous hormones in milk are fat-soluble, it would make sense that skim-milk would contain lower amounts of exogenous estrogens, and therefore have a ‘not so bad’ effect on sperm parameters and male hormones as full-fat milk does.

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Is milk evil? Should you give it up in order to boost testosterone and reduce estrogen? Well it all depends on how important your hormonal health is to you.

If you suffer from high estrogen levels, low T, and/or have man-boobs, it would make sense to reduce the amount of full-fat milk from pregnant-cows, perhaps all together or then switching to skimmed or low-fat alternatives from non-pregnant cows, which contain far less exogenous hormones (but still provide you with the beneficial proteins, calcium, and vitamin D).

As a big fan of the taste and nutritional content of milk, finding these studies was a huge disappointment to me. I still do drink milk and consume dairy products, but I recognize the scientific evidence and have cut down on the amount of full-fat milk and switched it to skimmed kind for lower intake of exogenous estrogens.

NOTE: With the above being said, I did drink full-fat milk for most of my life and turned out hormonally alright 😉 If you keep the big things in check (sleep, sex, exercise, macronutrient ratios, and good amount of vitamins & minerals) drinking full-fat milk from pregnant-cows is not going to ‘destroy’ you hormonally, (though that will be precisely what the fear-mongering alt-med community is now pushing with their new trending hashtag #DitchDairy…)

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Milk and Testosterone: Does the Consumption of Dairy Products Affect Androgens? was last modified: July 20th, 2017 by Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala is the founder of Anabolic Men, and an Independent Researcher that has been credited with organizing the findings that have helped thousands of men reach hormonal balance.
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  1. Nikolai_ on 08/02/2016 at 20:45

    what do you mean by keeping sex in check?

    • Travis Collins on 08/02/2016 at 22:20

      Means get laid with some degree of regularity.

  2. Billy on 09/02/2016 at 02:11

    Jason ferrugia says that pasteurized diary are inflamatory and procude mucus. But all diary are pasteurized. Can you replace calcium from other sources? Or diary should be consumed no matet what?

    • Marko Amore Perätalo on 22/02/2016 at 09:16

      Cheese up, brotha! 😛

    • Gabriel Galeano on 01/04/2016 at 21:03

      Not all dairy is pasteurised. Depending where you live, you might be able to buy raw (unpasteurised and unhomogenised) milk, and other products made from raw milk such as cheeses, butter, and cream.

      If you decide not to have dairy, you will be able to obtain enough calcium from leafy green vegetables. Vitamin D3, magnesium and zinc must also be present in your body in order for calcium to be use more effectively. You don’t need as much calcium as doctors recommend, however.

  3. Juergen on 09/02/2016 at 12:34

    What about the estrogen amount in milk powder? Would this be an alternative in order to keep the taste a bit?

  4. spirroh on 10/02/2016 at 00:06

    What about organic milk? Do they keep the cows pregnant? Cuz thats usually cheap nowadays. Cheeses full of fat, meaning full of exo? Im coming to the conalusion that i should just fast forever haha

  5. Bob Riley on 10/02/2016 at 18:34

    Good post. I have been consuming a lot of non fat milk powder mixed with coconut oil. Theoretically it should help my testosterone levels

  6. JJ on 10/02/2016 at 23:08

    Disappointing indeed…

    I’ve heard/read from many places that drinking low-fat milk will not get you the benefits of milk because many of the nutrients of milk will be absorbed by the body only when there is milk fat present. Is this true?

    If yes, then there is no point in drinking low-fat milk and if it is not true then I have to rethink my stance against low-fat milk (I usually look at those low-fat milk containers on the shelves of the shops with disgust).

  7. Franck DERET on 11/02/2016 at 03:48

    What about butter? I’m having organic butter every morning in my coffee….

    • Nick G. on 24/02/2016 at 20:27

      That Bulletproof coffee butter/coconut coffee blend is the biggest load of Nutritional BroScience BS I have ever seen in the BroScience world to date (and that’s saying a lot.). There is absolutely no empirical (read respected, and proven) scientific literature that supports that garbage ritual, and the guy that’s pushing it looks tired and out of shape-that’s you’re spokesperson for it.

      Anyone thinking that consuming pure saturated fat to start the day is going to be healthy is comically gullible. After fasting for 6,7, 8 hours (hence the word break-FAST) the last thing you want to do upon waking is consume pure saturated fat with the absence of any complex carbohydrates or leans protein, which provide energy, and satiety. If people are saying they are losing weight from that “diet,” well it’s really quite simple-if you villify, and then reduce or eliminate ANY one food group (or two in this case) then you’re automatically going to lose weight because you’re reducing overall calories-common sense.

      And yes I’m well aware that coconut oil and grass fed butter saturated fat is okay to consume along with a BALANCED diet, but excess of anything outside of organic vegetables is going to be bad for you.

    • Dairy Moos on 26/04/2016 at 18:52

      Butter is a good source of saturated fat – saturated fat is good for your hormones. That’s why Jim Harbaugh recommends his players drink a lot of milk

  8. Jonny on 02/03/2016 at 04:10

    If this is true for milk, would it be the same for eggs?

    • Fadadio on 16/03/2016 at 16:47

      I doubt it.

    • Leigh Goodwin on 13/04/2016 at 02:17

      Eggs are a bird product (animal) but not dairy.

    • Jonny on 13/04/2016 at 12:42

      Yes I understand that eggs are a bird product, and that they’re not dairy, thanks for clearing that up for me though. I was referring to the fact that eggs come from females as does milk. The fact that milk is dairy and eggs aren’t is irrelevant.

  9. Green Deane on 09/03/2016 at 22:39

    I think it would be good to make a distinction between grass fed and non-grass fed cows as that can affect many characteristics of the milk, and, to note the benefits of goat’s milk which is not exposed to the same amount of hormonal tinkering. I did decades of regular cow’s milk then grass-fed milk. But in old age I moved to goat’s milk (old goat’s milk?) to reduce possible and unavoidable exposure to IGF-1 via bovine milk.

  10. Benny Gilmour on 20/03/2016 at 17:46

    Did I miss the part where cheese and butter were discussed?

  11. Dairy Moos on 26/04/2016 at 18:49

    “Cows are kept pregnant upwards of 300 days” Come on dude – cows are pregnant the same amount of time as people 280 days. Most of the milk is produced right after calving (when shes not pregnant) She is giving hardly any milk in her 3rd trimester and is dry (giving no milk) 2 months prior to calving. This theory really makes no sense. Considering a cow has babies of either sex, I don’t think nature would want to feminize the bulls..
    Its the way your food is metabolized – there’s been quite a bit of research around saturated fat. Saturated fat helps you body manufacture the hormones your body needs in the right amounts. Whole milk (because it has saturated fat) is good for your bodys hormones

  12. Zenurez on 16/02/2017 at 21:02

    Nice article. Are you aware that the dairy cows in most of Europe produce a different milk than those used in America? The Americans cows milk is frequently more common for allergies and autoimmune reactions. I’m sorry, I don’t remember the source where I read this. However, you might find it worth researching.

  13. Shorty20122012 . on 05/05/2017 at 10:01

    You can’t tell if you turned out “hormonally alright” because you can’t go back in time and change things to see how you would have developed differently. People who didn’t drink milk and had the proper substitute micro/macro nutrients could have been taller, deeper voice, higher bone density, increased strength etc.

    Who knows tho, no point in crying over spilled milk. 😉

  14. 北无量寿 on 11/05/2017 at 12:42

    Milk got me big and strong. If it wasn’t for milk, i would still be weak. However, it also made me fat. But i thank God for milk, without it, i wouldn’t have gained much muscle as i was on a strict budget.

  15. AleRes on 19/05/2017 at 17:37

    I am confused. Milk is bad, yogurt and kefir is good. Both, yogurt and kefir are made out of milk. Ali, please explain. Ty

  16. Danny Glover on 06/07/2017 at 12:15

    Now is this study based off of commercial cow’s milk or grass fed cows from a local farm?

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