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Hormone balance and vegan nutrition

Hormones play a vital role in our body. They maintain important functions in our body. It is now known that nutrition has a significant influence on the hormone balance.

The hormone balance

Hormones are biochemical messengers that are produced by special cells in the body and released into the bloodstream. These messengers then release their specific effect in the target organs or cells.

Hormones play a vital role as they maintain important functions in our body. An imbalance in our hormone balance can affect our health. Sex hormones, thyroid hormones and insulin are often out of balance and can favour illnesses.

Scientific studies on hormone balance and the vegan diet

There are now a number of studies looking at hormone balance and the vegan diet.

Vegans have lower IGF-1 levels

A study by Allen et al. (2000) shows that a vegan diet leads to lower insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) levels in the blood than in vegetarians or meat eaters. IGF-1 is a so-called growth factor that is very similar to human insulin. In this study, 233 male vegans, 226 male meat eaters and 237 male vegetarians were examined. The IGF-1 levels were 9% lower in the vegans than in the meat eaters and 8% lower than in the vegetarians. Studies with IGF-1 show that IGF-1 can have an effect on cancer development. It has been shown that high IGF-1 levels have an influence on cancer growth and reduced cancer cell death.

Vegans have similar testosterone and estradiol levels to mixed dieters

The above-mentioned study also showed that the vegan test subjects had higher testosterone levels and sex hormone binding globulin (SHGB) levels than the other two groups. SHGB is a special transport protein for sex hormones, especially for testosterone and estradiol. Studies suggest that high testosterone levels in the blood can increase the risk of prostate cancer and high estradiol levels can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Another study by Key et al. also looked at the hormone levels of vegans and meat eaters. Here too, the vegan test subjects showed increased testosterone, SHGB and estradiol levels. However, when other determinants such as the BMI were included, only slight differences in testosterone and estradiol levels were observed.

Vegans and vegetarians are significantly more likely to have a BMI in the normal range than meat eaters. A healthy body weight has a positive effect on health and may therefore be linked to the results mentioned above.

A study by Thomas et al. also showed differences between the estradiol levels of vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters. In contrast to the above study, vegans and vegetarians had slightly lower estradiol levels than meat eaters. However, when BMI was included in the assessment, as described above, there were no significant differences between the individual groups.


The studies do not show any clear results. Therefore, further studies need to be conducted in the future to investigate hormone levels in vegans and mixed dieters. The cancer risk associated with hormones should also be investigated in the individual groups. Currently, many studies show that vegans have a lower risk of cancer.