Milk: It doesn’t do a body good
June 19th, 2016 by Holly Cornish
If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember the ad campaign from the dairy industry, the one with the tagline “Milk, it does a body good.” And you probably also remember those cute magazine ads where some celebrity had a milk moustache, like a three-year-old.
Well, in a way the campaign was appropriate because age three is about when you should stop drinking milk. After the toddler stage, it doesn’t do a body good. In fact, it does a great deal of harm. Get this stuff out of your diet, for the following reasons. . .
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Milk is linked to a slew of diseases and conditions, including prostate and ovarian cancer. Add to the list weight gain, diabetes, constipation, IBS, bloating and gas, allergies and skin conditions. .
But don’t expect to hear this from your doctor, the media, or Uncle Sam.
Instead the milk industry makes these dubious claims, with the blessing of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. . .
- It’s the consummate comfort food – wholesome and quintessentially American.
- It reduces bone fractures and prevents osteoporosis.
- It’s your best source of calcium.
- You need it for vitamin D.
- It’ll improve athletic performance and is the perfect post-workout recovery drink.
- Everyone should consume at least 24 ounces per day.
The truth may be far less savory.
What about milk’s reputation as “Nature’s Perfect Food”? Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution, says that’s only true if you’re a cow. So it may be time to kill this “sacred cow.”
In terms of our evolution as a species (or, if you’re a fundamentalist, “the way God made us”), we were never meant to consume the milk of another species. Our bodies are programmed to consume only human breast milk, and only till about age two.
Milk’s hidden cancer connection
Science suggests there’s a link between dairy products and increased risk of prostate and testicular cancers, and possibly breast and ovarian cancer.
In the case of prostate cancer, several studies find an association to milk consumption. The Harvard Physician’s Health Study of 20,000 male doctors found that those consuming more than two dairy servings a day had an astounding 34 percent greater risk of prostate cancer than did those consuming little or no dairy.1 Other studies confirm that.
Dairy boosts insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which promotes cancer cell growth.
IGF-1 is linked to breast cancer as well.
Calcium may be another culprit in prostate cancer. Too much can lower cancer-protective vitamin D.
As for ovarian cancer, galactose (a component of milk sugar lactose) may trigger the disease. An analysis of studies found that for every glass of milk (or 10 grams of lactose) consumed, ovarian cancer risk rose by 13 percent.2
On the other hand, a 2001 Norwegian study found that milk consumption reduced breast cancer risk in premenopausal women. But by only a tiny fraction… and premenopausal breast cancer is rare.
In Asia, where milk consumption is rare, the rate of breast cancer is lower than in the U.S. or Europe. There are probably other factors involved – lower red meat consumption, higher iodine consumption from sea products, who knows what else – but less milk probably translates to a lower cancer rate.
A hormone cocktail…
This dairy-created disaster may be linked to hormones. With every glass of milk, you get a chemical cocktail of some 60 hormones, including bovine growth hormone (rBGH), estrogen, progesterone, and more.
In 1970, one cow produced 9,700 pounds of milk in her lifetime. Today that same cow produces 19,000 pounds. This may sound great, but it’s not. Talk about factory farming!
That cow is being doped up on growth hormones that become a part of your “refreshing” glass of milk. Bovine growth hormone is a chemical additive, of course, but the natural components of milk are also troubling. . .
Casein is a protein found in all milk, human or animal. It’s linked to cancer and other chronic diseases. Dr. T. Colin Campbell (Cornell University) found that casein promotes cancer in every stage of development.
Apparently your immune cells attack casein proteins as foreign invaders. Here’s the real bummer: Milk proteins are similar enough to your own body’s proteins to confuse your immune cells into attacking your own body.
Casein is also exceedingly hard to digest. It sticks together like glue – as suggested by the cow on the front of Elmer’s glue. In fact, it’s a component in some glues.
What’s more, the milk sugar called lactose can’t be broken down beyond infancy – except for certain people of northern European descent who retain that ability into adulthood. You’ve probably heard of “lactose intolerance” – one of the most common causes of GI-tract problems. You can mitigate lactose intolerance by supplementing with the enzyme lactase – the baby hormone that most people no longer have after early childhood.
But the best move is to simply avoid lactose, i.e. milk.
Cultured dairy breaks down proteins we can’t naturally digest, enlisting the help of the bacterium Lactobacillus.
There are more reasons to consider ditching dairy.
Linked to type 1 diabetes
The scientific literature is clear that milk can trigger destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in genetically predisposed people.
A study of 1,113 at-risk infants showed that those receiving special insulin-free cow’s milk developed 61% fewer beta cell autoantibodies by age 3 than did those on regular cow’s milk.
This seems to prove the problem with drinking milk of another species. The protein in cows’ milk – especially the beta-casein A1 molecule – is dramatically different than that found in human breast milk.
Dr. Mark Hyman also cites a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association linking milk to weight gain, diabetes, constipation, bloating and gas, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, eczema, and increased fracture risk (even though milk is rich in calcium).
Wait… you’re saying I’m MORE likely to suffer a fracture?
It’s been hammered into our heads that we should drink at least three glasses of milk a day to prevent bone fractures.
You’ve seen the “Got Milk?” ads, right?
Walter Willett, M.D. and chairman of the nutrition department at Harvard School of Public Health, calls that heresy.
When he and his team reviewed six studies of nearly 200,000 women, they were shocked.
Not only was there zero evidence milk was preventive for fractures, but get this: a 60,000-person Swedish study found that women drinking 21+ ounces per day had a stunning 60 percent higher risk of hip fractures. And hip fractures can be deadly.
Remember, you can’t digest it
Despite the propaganda of dairy industry commercials, it’s a proven fact most people cannot digest dairy.
Today, an estimated 62.2 million Americans will consume dairy they cannot digest. Does that strike you as a healthy thing to do?
In fact, lactose intolerance is so common and the dairy industry so heavily promoted that most people never connect the dots between dairy and their gassiness, bloating, diarrhea or other symptoms — let alone cancer, which doesn’t develop until years later.
That’s besides full-blown dairy allergies, which can cause hives and other rashes, vomiting, and even anaphylactic shock.
What about raw and organic milk?
That’s the $64,000 question.
Most studies use conventional milk, so we don’t have much hard evidence about raw.
On the one hand, ditching huge amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and growth hormones can’t be all bad. But the lactose, insulin, and casein can still be a problem. Anecdotally, a couple of people I know with lactose intolerance have told me they don’t have a reaction to raw milk.
That may be, but there are so many other questionable ingredients in milk, I think it’s still a risky food to eat.
To find out if raw milk is even available legally in your state, go to http://www.realmilk.com/state-updates/. In my state, Virginia, it’s next to impossible to get. You pretty much have to own your own dairy cow.
Some doctors suggest taking a two-to-four-week hiatus from all dairy, reintroduce it (raw organic, if possible), assess how you feel, and decide from there if you can safely consume milk.
Personally, the sum total of dairy I use is half-and-half in coffee (which I rarely drink), plus a rare treat of ice cream, along with a very limited amount of cheese. These are all special treats, not daily items in my diet. And if I had cancer, I wouldn’t even touch the rare treat.
Here are some practical ways to slash your dairy load:
- Replace milk or half-and-half with coconut milk in recipes.
- Get calcium from dark leafy greens like kale, turnip greens, beet greens, broccoli, dried beans, almonds and almond butter, chia seeds, coconut milk, and quinoa.
- Try your hand at nut-based “cheeses.” Vegan cookbooks can guide you.
- Drink water instead of milk. Save cheese for special occasions, like maybe your periodic pizza fix.
- If you must have dairy, make it cultured, preferably raw (i.e. not pasteurized), non-homogenized, and organic.
- I’m told you can make your own coconut milk “ice cream” and “whipped cream.” I haven’t tried it myself.
- Try sheep or goat milk and cheese.
Our last issue talked about what might be the most unlikely cancer risk you’ll ever hear. But it’s for real. If you missed the news, we’re rerunning it just below.
This Cancer Risk Factor Could Be
Genetic, Environmental or Both –
That’s The Long & Short of It
Here’s a fact that has fascinated scientists for decades: Your risk of cancer is associated with how tall you are.
No one is quite sure why. Is it influenced by our genes, our environment or both? Even after hundreds of studies the jury is still out. But what is now accepted is that the link is real.
What’s more, the risk has been growing for the last 150 years, because on average people have been getting taller. Here’s the full story. . .
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As height increases, so does cancer risk
Colorectal Cancer: In a meta-analysis of 16 studies, participants in the top height categories had between 20% and 60% increased risk compared to those in the bottom height categories.
For instance, in a study of over a million Norwegians, 6,397 men developed colon cancer and 4,393 developed rectal cancer. The figures for women were 7,620 and 3,482.
They were divided into five groups according to height, ranging from the shortest one-fifth to the tallest one-fifth. That put about 200,000 men in each group.
Men in the top height group had a 37% increased risk of colon cancer and a 17% increased risk of rectal cancer compared to those in the bottom height group. For women the figures were 35% and 18%.
In another group of 13 studies that combined the results of 5,287 cases of colorectal cancer, there was a consistent height/cancer association with the tallest men and women having a 31% increased risk compared to the shortest.
In April, 2016, Guillaume Onyeaghala of the University of Minnesota reported on a new study at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. It showed that the group in the top quarter of leg length were 42% more likely to get colon cancer than those in the bottom quarter.
And those with the very longest legs (35.4 inches) had a 91% greater risk than those with the shortest legs (31.1 inches).
Prostate Cancer: Most of the 22 studies analyzed reported a 20% to 40% increased risk in those in the top height categories compared to the bottom.
In a study of 22,071 US male physicians, there were 1,047 cases of prostate cancer. The doctors who were more than 6 feet tall had a 26% greater risk compared to those under 5 feet 7 inches.
In another study of 47,781 US male health professionals, 1,369 were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Those 6 feet 2 inches or taller were found to be at a 37% greater risk of this common cancer than those 5 feet 8 inches tall, or less.
The researchers also reported “that tallness had a strong direct association with risk of metastatic disease,” with an increased risk of 68%.
Breast Cancer: In a group of 24 studies there was an increased risk ranging from 10% to 60% in the tallest height categories compared to the shortest.
In a study of 62,573 women aged 55 to 69 from the Netherlands, 626 had breast cancer after a four year follow up. The researchers found “a significantly positive association between adult height and breast cancer.” The risk for women over 5 feet 9 inches was double that of women who were 5 feet or less.
Endometrial/uterine cancer: Above average versus below average heights of 570,000 Norwegian women were compared. The 2,208 women with uterine cancer who were taller than average had a 20% greater risk.
The conclusion of another study that compared women with endometrial cancer with those free of the disease (controls) concluded that “women with endometrial cancer were significantly taller than control women.”
Other cancers: Increasing height has been found to increase the risk of a number of other cancers.
In 2010 the British Journal of Cancer published a study which showed that for every additional two inches of height the risk of developing testicular cancer increased by 13%. The relationship has also been found in cancers of the blood, lymphatic system, thyroid, ovary and some others.
Are the studies reliable?
One of the problems with conducting population studies is that it isn’t always clear what is being measured. For instance, taller people will tend to weigh more, so it may be weight that correlates with cancer and not height.
Higher socioeconomic status is also associated with greater stature. To put it bluntly, rich and powerful people also tend to be taller, on average. Perhaps such people are more health conscious and are more likely to request screening, which detects cancer at an early stage.
The number of potential biases in such research (confounding factors) can seriously skew the results.
The very best studies use very large population sizes and take as many confounding factors into account as they can. However, most studies have suffered to some degree from such biases.
The biggest studies confirm the link
The biggest study of its kind involved over five million Swedish people over a 50-year period.
The researchers discovered that for every four-inch increase in height, the risk of developing any form of cancer increased by 11% in men and 18% in women. The risk of malignant melanoma increased by 32% in men and 27% in women. The analysis took education and income into account.
The Million Women Study of 2011 is the most reliable of all the studies because it included 1,300,000 women and took a huge number of factors into account.
For every four inches above 5 feet, the cancer risk increased by 16% for 10 different cancers. Women in the study who were more than 5 feet 9 inches tall were 37% more likely to develop cancer than those under 5 feet.
The researchers took into account year of birth, socioeconomic factors, alcohol intake, body mass index, physical activity, age at puberty, number of pregnancies, age at first birth, menopausal status, use of hormone replacement therapy and smoking.
Finally, a study of 788,789 Koreans that took into account age, body mass index, female reproductive factors, and behavioral and socioeconomic factors found that every two inch increment in height was associated with a 5% higher cancer risk for men and 7% for women at all cancer sites.
How height increases cancer risk
The evidence for the height/cancer link is convincing, but the reason for the connection is not known.
Dr. Jane Green from Oxford University, who was lead researcher in the Million Women Study, said, “Obviously height itself cannot affect cancer, but it may be a marker for something else.”
What is that something else? Nobody knows for sure, but various ideas have been put forward.
- Genetics – 80% of height variation in Western societies is thought to be accounted for by 180 separate genetic markers that could also increase cancer risk.
- Organ mass and skin surface area – the organs and skin surface area of taller people are greater in size. More body cells may make for a greater likelihood of mutation.
- Infections – some pathogens are known to cause cancer. A lower infection load in early childhood could increase risk of cancer if the infections are experienced later in childhood or as adults. Fewer infections in childhood may also lead to underdevelopment of the immune system.
- Birth weight – risks of prostate and breast cancer have been linked to higher birth weight, which in turn is associated with greater height.
- Nutrition – higher calorie intake in childhood and adolescence or greater intake of milk proteins
- Growth hormones – insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) plays a fundamental role in body growth. Levels of IGF-1 increase in puberty and drive skeletal growth. An excess of this hormone and/or a decrease in its main binding protein, IGF-3, has been strongly linked to many different cancers. Cow’s milk contains high levels of IGF-1.
In a recent paper published in the journal Lancet, four medical professors wrote that for every 2½ inches in height, cancer mortality increases by 4%. They believe this is caused by too much high calorie food, in particular milk, dairy and other animal protein during fetal and child development and its influence on IGF-1.
In their view, “Limiting over-nutrition during pregnancy, early childhood and puberty would avoid not only obesity but also accelerated growth in children – and thus might reduce risk of cancer in adulthood.”
If you are especially tall, there is some good news. You have a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.