Zearalenone


Also known as: ZEN, ZEA, RAL, F-2 mycotoxin

Potential uses: It's been proposed that zearalenone could be used as hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women. Because it's associated with breast enlargement in people, zearalenone is in many breast-enhancing dietary supplements. Zearalenone has been widely used in the United States since 1969 to help cattle grow faster and bigger.

Usual dose: No dose has been established.

Are there any risks? Zearalenone is a mycoestrogen toxin produced by molds that grow when grain gets wet. It can contaminate grain, but most food processors test for it and other mycotoxins before purchasing grain. If cattle are fed zearalenone as a growth enhancer, it can be found in dairy and meat products. Because zearalenone is a type of estrogen, some experts think it may increase breast cancer risk.

What does the research show? In December 2011, breast health experts advised women to avoid bust-enhancing supplements that contain zearalenone because there is no evidence on the safety of the supplements. Earlier research has linked zearalenone to early puberty and because of this, the European Union has banned giving zearalenone to cattle.

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