Estrone and estrone sulfate concentrations in milk and milk fractions

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Jul;112(7):1088-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.02.005. Epub 2012 May 5.


Dairy products naturally contain estrogens, and some consumer groups contend these estrogens cause adverse health effects. The objectives of this research were to characterize estrone (E(1)) and estrone sulfate (E(1)S) concentrations in milk from a large number of individual cows, in skim and fat fractions of milk, and in retail milk to provide food and nutrition practitioners with information to estimate potential consumption. Milk was from Holstein cows. Data are presented as means and standard deviations. Analysis of variance was used to determine differences in E(1) and E(1)S content of whole milk and its skim and fat fractions. Mean E(1) and E(1)S concentrations (n=173 cows) were 7.0±12.7 and 46.7±62.1 pg/mL (25.89±46.96 and 172.74±229.71 pmol/L), respectively. Analysis of milk fractions (n=50 samples) demonstrated that 55% of E(1) and 14% of E(1)S were associated with the fat fraction with the remainder associated with the skim fraction. Concentrations of E(1) and E(1)S in pasteurized-homogenized whole milk (n=8) averaged 10.3±0.6 and 85.9±7.3 pg/mL (38.09±2.22 and 317.74±27.00 pmol/L), respectively. Production rates of E(1) plus estradiol in human beings range from 54,000 to 630,000 ng/day. US Food and Drug administration guidelines state that no physiologic effects occur when consumption is ≤1% of the endogenous quantities produced by the segment of the population with the lowest daily production. This threshold value for intake would be 540 ng/day. Estimated total E(1) intake from three servings of whole milk was 68 ng/day, which represents 0.01% to 0.1% of daily production rates in human beings. These findings support levels below the current guidelines for safe consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Dairy Products / analysis
  • Estrone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Estrone / analysis*
  • Fats / analysis
  • Food Preservation / methods
  • Humans
  • Milk / chemistry*


  • Fats
  • Estrone
  • estrone sulfate