Doc: Cow’s milk growth hormone won’t alter human growth


Dear Dr. Roach: I believe there is a small group of cows with growth hormone in their milk. This milk is why we almost never see very short people under a certain age. Is this the major source of growth hormone, or is it something else?


Dear W.T.T.: In the United States, about 17 percent of cows are treated with bovine growth hormone, called rBGH, which increases milk production. The milk produced from these cows has no more growth hormone than milk produced from cows who are not given the hormone. Further, growth hormone is not well-absorbed, and bovine growth hormone is not active in humans. So, there is no effect from cows treated with this hormone in terms of height of human children.

Dear Dr. Roach: About seven years ago, I had to have carpal tunnel surgery on both my wrists. I also had a trigger finger fixed on my left hand. While the carpal tunnel surgery fixed the numbness problems I had in both hands, I have been back five times to have different fingers on both hands fixed for the trigger finger trouble. Do you know if the two are related?


Dear D.F.: Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when there is increased pressure in the carpal tunnel, an anatomical space in the wrist composed of bone and connective tissue. Nine tendons of the hand, as well as the median nerve, pass through it. The increased pressure damages the nerve, causing pain, numbness or weakness in the hand. Treatment includes stopping the activity, reversing any contributing medical condition (such as low thyroid levels), splinting, steroid injection or surgery.

A trigger finger is when a finger gets stuck in the flexed position. It is caused by a tendon being trapped in the pulley system of the finger. It often can be treated with injection of a corticosteroid or surgery.

It’s appropriate for someone with either a trigger finger or carpal tunnel syndrome to be evaluated for the other condition, since they so frequently occur together. In one study, of all the patients who came to a hand clinic with either carpal tunnel syndrome or trigger finger, about 60 percent had evidence of both conditions.

Having diabetes seems to be a risk factor for both conditions. Otherwise, it’s not known why they both tend to run together.

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