Be Wary of Dairy — Worrying About Milk

by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D., L.D./N.

 

There are several potentially serious problems associated with dairy products...

 

OSTEOPOROSIS

The protein in dairy may contribute to osteoporosis by causing calcium loss in the urine.

 

Recker, R.  Am J Clin Nutr. 1985;41:254

 

CANCER

Dairy products have been associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer.  A high calcium intake, mainly from dairy products, may increase prostate cancer risk by lowering concentrations of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, a hormone thought to protect against prostate cancer. 

 

Regular dairy milk cows often are injected with BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone). This can cause elevated levels of a substance called IGF-1. While BGH has not been found in milk, IGF-1 has been. High levels of IGF-1 may be related to an increased risk for certain cancers.

 

Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians' Health Study.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;74 549-554

Chan, S., et al. Dairy products, calcium and prostate cancer risk in the Physician’s Health Study. 91st Annual Meeting of American Association for Cancer Research, April 2000

 

HEART DISEASE

The protein in dairy can damage arteries through an immune cross-reaction. High levels of antibodies to milk proteins have been found in severe atherosclerosis. Even low fat or fat free dairy can be a culprit here.

Fat free dairy milks may legally have as much as 4-7% fat in them, which also means some saturated fat and cholesterol.

 

Annand, J. Atherosclerosis. 1986; 59:347; Muscari,A.  Ann Ital Med Int. 1992;7:7; Altern Med Rev. 1998;3(4):281-294

 

ARTHRITIS

There is some evidence that immune system reactions to dairy proteins may cause and/or aggravate rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in some people. Also, some studies have shown that eliminating dairy products have brought a reduction in symptoms in people with RA.

 

Welsh, C. Int. Arch Allergy Appl. Immun. 1986; 80:192; Ratner, D. Israel, J Med Science.1985; 21:532; Park,A. Br Med J.1981; 282:2027; Panush, Arthritis Rheum.1986; 29:220

 

FOOD ALLERGY

Of all commonly consumed foods, cow’s milk protein, which is found in all dairy products, is the leading cause of food allergy in adults and children.

 

Bahna, S. Allergies to Milk, New York: Grune and Stratton, 1980

 

VOID OF DIETARY FIBER

Dairy products have no dietary fiber and therefore can contribute to constipation and other related disease such as varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and hiatus hernia.

 

DIABETES

There is some evidence that cow’s milk proteins may trigger type 1 diabetes, again, through a cross-reaction to the protein. Worldwide, the incidence of  type 1 diabetes is related to the amount of dairy products consumed. Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes in children.

 

Dahl-Jorgensen, K. Diabetes Care.1991; 14:1081; Karjalainen, J. N Engl J Med. 1992; 327:302

 

LACTOSE INTOLERANCE

Dairy is often touted as nature’s most perfect food, yet the majority of African Americans (70%), Asian Americans (95%), Hispanic Americans (53%) and Native Americans (74%) are lactose intolerant. Not such a perfect food.

 

CONTAMINANTS

Dairy products are often contaminated with e.coli, salmonella, staphylococci, and/or tuberculosis. Pasteurization doesn’t always eliminate these microbes.

 

AIDS 6:759, 1992; Jacobs, R. Can J Vet Res 56:353, 1992

 

IRON DEFICIENCY

Milk is the leading cause of iron deficiency anemia in children and milk is deficient in iron. Milk also can bind with the iron found in other foods and prevent its absorption.

 

Oski, F. Pediatrics 75 (suppl) 1985: 182

 

In light of the above, I can see no reason to include such a potentially harmful food in an optimum diet. If one was still to desire some kind of dairy milk “substitute,” I would recommend Soy or Rice milk. Most have been fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin B12.  These milks also naturally contain several nutrients and phytochemicals that may prove beneficial in relation to heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and menopause which regular milk does not.

 

©Copyright 2001. All Rights Reserved. Health Science is the publication of the National Health Association. This article reprinted from the Fall 2001 issue.