- "MILK" Just the word itself sounds comforting!
"How about a nice cup of hot milk?" The last time you heard that
question it was from someone who cared for you--and you appreciated their
- The entire matter of food and especially that of milk
is surrounded with emotional and cultural importance. Milk was our very
first food. If we were fortunate it was our mother's milk. A loving link,
given and taken. It was the only path to survival. If not mother's milk
it was cow's milk or soy milk "formula"--rarely it was goat,
camel or water buffalo milk.
- Now, we are a nation of milk drinkers. Nearly all of
us. Infants, the young, adolescents, adults and even the aged. We drink
dozens or even several hundred gallons a year and add to that many pounds
of "dairy products" such as cheese, butter, and yogurt.
- Can there be anything wrong with this? We see reassuring
images of healthy, beautiful people on our television screens and hear
messages that assure us that, "Milk is good for your body." Our
dieticians insist that: "You've got to have milk, or where will you
get your calcium?" School lunches always include milk and nearly every
hospital meal will have milk added. And if that isn't enough, our nutritionists
told us for years that dairy products make up an "essential food group."
Industry spokesmen made sure that colourful charts proclaiming the necessity
of milk and other essential nutrients were made available at no cost for
schools. Cow's milk became "normal."
- You may be surprised to learn that most of the human
beings that live on planet Earth today do not drink or use cow's milk.
Further, most of them can't drink milk because it makes them ill.
- There are students of human nutrition who are not supportive
of milk use for adults. Here is a quotation from the March/April 1991 Utne
- If you really want to play it safe, you may decide to
join the growing number of Americans who are eliminating dairy products
from their diets altogether. Although this sounds radical to those of us
weaned on milk and the five basic food groups, it is eminently viable.
Indeed, of all the mammals, only humans--and then only a minority, principally
Caucasians--continue to drink milk beyond babyhood. "Indeed, of all
the mammals, only humans--and then only a minority, principally Caucasians--continue
to drink milk beyond babyhood.
- Who is right? Why the confusion? Where best to get our
answers? Can we trust milk industry spokesmen? Can you trust any industry
spokesmen? Are nutritionists up to date or are they simply repeating what
their professors learned years ago? What about the new voices urging caution?
- I believe that there are three reliable sources of information.
The first, and probably the best, is a study of nature. The second is to
study the history of our own species. Finally we need to look at the world's
scientific literature on the subject of milk.
- Let's look at the scientific literature first. From 1988
to 1993 there were over 2,700 articles dealing with milk recorded in the
"Medicine" archives. Fifteen hundred of theses had milk as the
main focus of the article. There is no lack of scientific information on
this subject. I reviewed over 500 of the 1,500 articles, discarding articles
that dealt exclusively with animals, esoteric research and inconclusive
- How would I summarize the articles? They were only slightly
less than horrifying. First of all, none of the authors spoke of cow's
milk as an excellent food, free of side effects and the "perfect food"
as we have been led to believe by the industry. The main focus of the published
reports seems to be on intestinal colic, intestinal irritation, intestinal
bleeding, anemia, allergic reactions in infants and children as well as
infections such as salmonella. More ominous is the fear of viral infection
with bovine leukemia virus or an AIDS-like virus as well as concern for
childhood diabetes. Contamination of milk by blood and white (pus) cells
as well as a variety of chemicals and insecticides was also discussed.
Among children the problems were allergy, ear and tonsillar infections,
bedwetting, asthma, intestinal bleeding, colic and childhood diabetes.
In adults the problems seemed centered more around heart disease and arthritis,
allergy, sinusitis, and the more serious questions of leukemia, lymphoma
- I think that an answer can also be found in a consideration
of what occurs in nature - what happens with free living mammals and what
happens with human groups living in close to a natural state as "hunter-gatherers".
- Our paleolithic ancestors are another crucial and interesting
group to study. Here we are limited to speculation and indirect evidences,
but the bony remains available for our study are remarkable. There is no
doubt whatever that these skeletal remains reflect great strength, muscularity
(the size of the muscular insertions show this), and total absence of advanced
osteoporosis. And if you feel that these people are not important for us
to study, consider that today our genes are programming our bodies in almost
exactly the same way as our ancestors of 50,000 to 100,000 years ago.
- WHAT IS MILK?
- Milk is a maternal lactating secretion, a short term
nutrient for new-borns. Nothing more, nothing less. Invariably, the mother
of any mammal will provide her milk for a short period of time immediately
after birth. When the time comes for "weaning", the young offspring
is introduced to the proper food for that species of mammal. A familiar
example is that of a puppy. The mother nurses the pup for just a few weeks
and then rejects the young animal and teaches it to eat solid food. Nursing
is provided by nature only for the very youngest of mammals. Of course,
it is not possible for animals living in a natural state to continue with
the drinking of milk after weaning
- IS ALL MILK THE SAME?
- Then there is the matter of where we get our milk. We
have settled on the cow because of its docile nature, its size, and its
abundant milk supply. Somehow this choice seems "normal" and
blessed by nature, our culture, and our customs. But is it natural? Is
it wise to drink the milk of another species of mammal?
- Consider for a moment, if it was possible, to drink the
milk of a mammal other than a cow, let's say a rat. Or perhaps the milk
of a dog would be more to your liking. Possibly some horse milk or cat
milk. Do you get the idea? Well, I'm not serious about this, except to
suggest that human milk is for human infants, dogs' milk is for pups, cows'
milk is for calves, cats' milk is for kittens, and so forth. Clearly, this
is the way nature intends it. Just use your own good judgement on this
- Milk is not just milk. The milk of every species of mammal
is unique and specifically tailored to the requirements of that animal.
For example, cows' milk is very much richer in protein than human milk.
Three to four times as much. It has five to seven times the mineral content.
However, it is markedly deficient in essential fatty acids when compared
to human mothers' milk. Mothers' milk has six to ten times as much of the
essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. (Incidentally, skimmed
cow's milk has no linoleic acid). It simply is not designed for humans.
- Food is not just food, and milk is not just milk. It
is not only the proper amount of food but the proper qualitative composition
that is critical for the very best in health and growth. Biochemists and
physiologists - and rarely medical doctors - are gradually learning that
foods contain the crucial elements that allow a particular species to develop
its unique specializations.
- Clearly, our specialization is for advanced neurological
development and delicate neuromuscular control. We do not have much need
of massive skeletal growth or huge muscle groups as does a calf. Think
of the difference between the demands make on the human hand and the demands
on a cow's hoof. Human new-borns specifically need critical material for
their brains, spinal cord and nerves.
- Can mother's milk increase intelligence? It seems that
it can. In a remarkable study published in Lancet during 1992 (Vol. 339,
p. 261-4), a group of British workers randomly placed premature infants
into two groups. One group received a proper formula, the other group received
human breast milk. Both fluids were given by stomach tube. These children
were followed up for over 10 years. In intelligence testing, the human
milk children averaged 10 IQ points higher! Well, why not? Why wouldn't
the correct building blocks for the rapidly maturing and growing brain
have a positive effect?
- In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1982)
Ralph Holman described an infant who developed profound neurological disease
while being nourished by intravenous fluids only. The fluids used contained
only linoleic acid - just one of the essential fatty acids. When the other,
alpha linoleic acid, was added to the intravenous fluids the neurological
- In the same journal five years later Bjerve, Mostad and
Thoresen, working in Norway found exactly the same problem in adult patients
on long term gastric tube feeding.
- In 1930 Dr. G.O. Burr in Minnesota working with rats
found that linoleic acid deficiencies created a deficiency syndrome. Why
is this mentioned? In the early 1960s pediatricians found skin lesions
in children fed formulas without the same linoleic acid. Remembering the
research, the addition of the acid to the formula cured the problem. Essential
fatty acids are just that and cows' milk is markedly deficient in these
when compared to human milk.
- WELL, AT LEAST COW'S MILK IS PURE
- Or is it? Fifty years ago an average cow produced 2,000
pounds of milk per year. Today the top producers give 50,000 pounds! How
was this accomplished? Drugs, antibiotics, hormones, forced feeding plans
and specialized breeding; that's how.
- The latest high-tech onslaught on the poor cow is bovine
growth hormone or BGH. This genetically engineered drug is supposed to
stimulate milk production but, according to Monsanto, the hormone's manufacturer,
does not affect the milk or meat. There are three other manufacturers:
Upjohn, Eli Lilly, and American Cyanamid Company. Obviously, there have
been no long-term studies on the hormone's effect on the humans drinking
the milk. Other countries have banned BGH because of safety concerns. One
of the problems with adding molecules to a milk cows' body is that the
molecules usually come out in the milk. I don't know how you feel, but
I don't want to experiment with the ingestion of a growth hormone. A related
problem is that it causes a marked increase (50 to 70 per cent) in mastitis.
This, then, requires antibiotic therapy, and the residues of the antibiotics
appear in the milk. It seems that the public is uneasy about this product
and in one survey 43 per cent felt that growth hormone treated milk represented
a health risk. A vice president for public policy at Monsanto was opposed
to labelling for that reason, and because the labelling would create an
"artificial distinction". The country is awash with milk as it
is, we produce more milk than we can consume. Let's not create storage
costs and further taxpayer burdens, because the law requires the USDA to
buy any surplus of butter, cheese, or non-fat dry milk at a support price
set by Congress! In fiscal 1991, the USDA spent $757 million on surplus
butter, and one billion dollars a year on average for price supports during
the 1980s (Consumer Reports, May 1992: 330-32).
- Any lactating mammal excretes toxins through her milk.
This includes antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals and hormones. Also, all
cows' milk contains blood! The inspectors are simply asked to keep it under
certain limits. You may be horrified to learn that the USDA allows milk
to contain from one to one and a half million white blood cells per millilitre.
(That's only 1/30 of an ounce). If you don't already know this, I'm sorry
to tell you that another way to describe white cells where they don't belong
would be to call them pus cells. To get to the point, is milk pure or is
it a chemical, biological, and bacterial cocktail? Finally, will the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) protect you? The United States General Accounting
Office (GAO) tells us that the FDA and the individual States are failing
to protect the public from drug residues in milk. Authorities test for
only 4 of the 82 drugs in dairy cows.
- As you can imagine, the Milk Industry Foundation's spokesman
claims it's perfectly safe. Jerome Kozak says, "I still think that
milk is the safest product we have."
- Other, perhaps less biased observers, have found the
following: 38% of milk samples in 10 cities were contaminated with sulfa
drugs or other antibiotics. (This from the Centre for Science in the Public
Interest and The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 29, 1989).. A similar study
in Washington, DC found a 20 percent contamination rate (Nutrition Action
Healthletter, April 1990).
- What's going on here? When the FDA tested milk, they
found few problems. However, they used very lax standards. When they used
the same criteria , the FDA data showed 51 percent of the milk samples
showed drug traces.
- Let's focus in on this because it's critical to our understanding
of the apparent discrepancies. The FDA uses a disk-assay method that can
detect only 2 of the 30 or so drugs found in milk. Also, the test detects
only at the relatively high level. A more powerful test called the "Charm
II test" can detect 4o drugs down to 5 parts per billion.
- One nasty subject must be discussed. It seems that cows
are forever getting infections around the udder that require ointments
and antibiotics. An article from France tells us that when a cow receives
penicillin, that penicillin appears in the milk for from 4 to 7 milkings.
Another study from the University of Nevada, Reno tells of cells in "mastic
milk", milk from cows with infected udders. An elaborate analysis
of the cell fragments, employing cell cultures, flow cytometric analysis
, and a great deal of high tech stuff. Do you know what the conclusion
was? If the cow has mastitis, there is pus in the milk. Sorry, it's in
the study, all concealed with language such as "macrophages containing
many vacuoles and phagocytosed particles, etc."
- IT GETS WORSE
- Well, at least human mothers' milk is pure! Sorry. A
huge study showed that human breast milk in over 14,000 women had contamination
by pesticides! Further, it seems that the sources of the pesticides are
meat and--you guessed it--dairy products. Well, why not? These pesticides
are concentrated in fat and that's what's in these products. (Of interest,
a subgroup of lactating vegetarian mothers had only half the levels of
- A recent report showed an increased concentration of
pesticides in the breast tissue of women with breast cancer when compared
to the tissue of women with fibrocystic disease. Other articles in the
standard medical literature describe problems. Just scan these titles:
- 1."Cow's Milk as a Cause of Infantile Colic Breast-Fed
Infants. Lancet 2 (1978): 437 2."Dietary Protein-Induced Colitis in
Breast- Fed Infants, J. Pediatr. I01 (1982): 906 3."The Question of
the Elimination of Foreign Protein in Women's Milk", J. Immunology
19 (1930): 15
- There are many others. There are dozens of studies describing
the prompt appearance of cows' milk allergy in children being exclusively
breast-fed! The cows' milk allergens simply appear in the mother's milk
and are transmitted to the infant.
- A committee on nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics
reported on the use of whole cows' milk in infancy (Pediatrics 1983: 72-253).
They were unable to provide any cogent reason why bovine milk should be
used before the first birthday yet continued to recommend its use! Doctor
Frank Oski from the Upstate Medical Centre Department of Pediatrics, commenting
on the recommendation , cited the problems of occult gastrointestinal blood
loss in infants, the lack of iron, recurrent abdominal pain, milk-borne
infections and contaminants, and said:
- Why give it at all - then or ever? In the face of uncertainty
about many of the potential dangers of whole bovine milk, it would seem
prudent to recommend that whole milk not be started until the answers are
available. Isn't it time for these uncontrolled experiments on human nutrition
to come to an end?
- In the same issue of Pediatrics he further commented:
- It is my thesis that whole milk should not be fed to
the infant in the first year of life because of its association with iron
deficiency anemia (milk is so deficient in iron that an infant would have
to drink an impossible 31 quarts a day to get the RDA of 15 mg), occult
gastrointiestinal bleeding, and various manifestations of food allergy.
I suggest that unmodified whole bovine milk should not be consumed after
infancy because of the problems of lactose intolerance, its contribution
to the genesis of atherosclerosis, and its possible link to other diseases.
- In late 1992 Dr. Benjamin Spock, possibly the best known
pediatrician in history, shocked the country when he articulated the same
thoughts and specified avoidance for the first two years of life. Here
is his quotation:
- I want to pass on the word to parents that cows' milk
from the carton has definite faults for some babies. Human milk is the
right one for babies. A study comparing the incidence of allergy and colic
in the breast-fed infants of omnivorous and vegan mothers would be important.
I haven't found such a study; it would be both important and inexpensive.
And it will probably never be done. There is simply no academic or economic
- OTHER PROBLEMS
- Let's just mention the problems of bacterial contamination.
Salmonella, E. coli, and staphylococcal infections can be traced to milk.
In the old days tuberculosis was a major problem and some folks want to
go back to those times by insisting on raw milk on the basis that it's
"natural." This is insanity! A study from UCLA showed that over
a third of all cases of salmonella infection in California, 1980-1983 were
traced to raw milk. That'll be a way to revive good old brucellosis again
and I would fear leukemia, too. (More about that later). In England, and
Wales where raw milk is till consumed there have been outbreaks of milk-borne
diseases. The Journal of the American Medical Association (251: 483, 1984)
reported a multi-state series of infections caused by Yersinia enterocolitica
in pasteurised whole milk. This is despite safety precautions.
- All parents dread juvenile diabetes for their children.
A Canadian study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
Mar. 1990, describes a "...significant positive correlation between
consumption of unfermented milk protein and incidence of insulin dependent
diabetes mellitus in data from various countries. Conversely a possible
negative relationship is observed between breast-feeding at age 3 months
and diabetes risk.".
- Another study from Finland found that diabetic children
had higher levels of serum antibodies to cows' milk (Diabetes Research
7(3): 137-140 March 1988). Here is a quotation from this study:
- We infer that either the pattern of cows' milk consumption
is altered in children who will have insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
or, their immunological reactivity to proteins in cows' milk is enhanced,
or the permeability of their intestines to cows' milk protein is higher
- The April 18, 1992 British Medical Journal has a fascinating
study contrasting the difference in incidence of juvenile insulin dependent
diabetes in Pakistani children who have migrated to England. The incidence
is roughly 10 times greater in the English group compared to children remaining
in Pakistan! What caused this highly significant increase? The authors
said that "the diet was unchanged in Great Britain. Do you believe
that? Do you think that the availability of milk, sugar and fat is the
same in Pakistan as it is in England? That a grocery store in England has
the same products as food sources in Pakistan? I don't believe that for
a minute. Remember, we're not talking here about adult onset, type II diabetes
which all workers agree is strongly linked to diet as well as to a genetic
predisposition. This study is a major blow to the "it's all in your
genes" crowd. Type I diabetes was always considered to be genetic
or possibly viral, but now this? So resistant are we to consider diet as
causation that the authors of the last article concluded that the cooler
climate in England altered viruses and caused the very real increase in
diabetes! The first two authors had the same reluctance top admit the obvious.
The milk just may have had something to do with the disease.
- The latest in this remarkable list of reports, a New
England Journal of Medicine article (July 30, 1992), also reported in the
Los Angeles Times. This study comes from the Hospital for Sick Children
in Toronto and from Finnish researchers. In Finland there is "...the
world's highest rate of dairy product consumption and the world's highest
rate of insulin dependent diabetes. The disease strikes about 40 children
out of every 1,000 there contrasted with six to eight per 1,000 in the
United States.... Antibodies produced against the milk protein during the
first year of life, the researchers speculate, also attack and destroy
the pancreas in a so-called auto-immune reaction, producing diabetes in
people whose genetic makeup leaves them vulnerable." "...142
Finnish children with newly diagnosed diabetes. They found that every one
had at least eight times as many antibodies against the milk protein as
did healthy children, clear evidence that the children had a raging auto
immune disorder." The team has now expanded the study to 400 children
and is starting a trial where 3,000 children will receive no dairy products
during the first nine months of life. "The study may take 10 years,
but we'll get a definitive answer one way or the other," according
to one of the researchers. I would caution them to be certain that the
breast feeding mothers use on cows' milk in their diets or the results
will be confounded by the transmission of the cows' milk protein in the
mother's breast milk.... Now what was the reaction from the diabetes association?
This is very interesting! Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, the president of the
association says: "It does not mean that children should stop drinking
milk or that parents of diabetics should withdraw dairy products. These
are rich sources of good protein." (Emphasis added) My God, it's the
"good protein" that causes the problem! Do you suspect that the
dairy industry may have helped the American Diabetes Association in the
- LEUKEMIA? LYMPHOMA? THIS MAY BE THE WORST--BRACE YOURSELF!
- I hate to tell you this, but the bovine leukemia virus
is found in more than three of five dairy cows in the United States! This
involves about 80% of dairy herds. Unfortunately, when the milk is pooled,
a very large percentage of all milk produced is contaminated (90 to 95
per cent). Of course the virus is killed in pasteurisation--if the pasteurisation
was done correctly. What if the milk is raw? In a study of randomly collected
raw milk samples the bovine leukemia virus was recovered from two-thirds.
I sincerely hope that the raw milk dairy herds are carefully monitored
when compared to the regular herds. (Science 1981; 213:1014).
- This is a world-wide problem. One lengthy study from
Germany deplored the problem and admitted the impossibility of keeping
the virus from infected cows' milk from the rest of the milk. Several European
countries, including Germany and Switzerland, have attempted to "cull"
the infected cows from their herds. Certainly the United States must be
the leader in the fight against leukemic dairy cows, right? Wrong! We are
the worst in the world with the former exception of Venezuela according
to Virgil Hulse MD, a milk specialist who also has a B.S. in Dairy Manufacturing
as well as a Master's degree in Public Health.
- As mentioned, the leukemia virus is rendered inactive
by pasteurisation. Of course. However, there can be Chernobyl like accidents.
One of these occurred in the Chicago area in April, 1985. At a modern,
large, milk processing plant an accidental "cross connection"
between raw and pasteurised milk occurred. A violent salmonella outbreak
followed, killing 4 and making an estimated 150,000 ill. Now the question
I would pose to the dairy industry people is this: "How can you assure
the people who drank this milk that they were not exposed to the ingestion
of raw, unkilled, bully active bovine leukemia viruses?" Further,
it would be fascinating to know if a "cluster" of leukemia cases
blossoms in that area in 1 to 3 decades. There are reports of "leukemia
clusters" elsewhere, one of them mentioned in the June 10, 1990 San
Francisco Chronicle involving No. California.
- What happens to other species of mammals when they are
exposed to the bovine leukemia virus? It's a fair question and the answer
is not reassuring. Virtually all animals exposed to the virus develop leukemia.
This includes sheep, goats, and even primates such as rhesus monkeys and
chimpanzees. The route of transmission includes ingestion (both intravenous
and intramuscular) and cells present in milk. There are obviously no instances
of transfer attempts to human beings, but we know that the virus can infect
human cells in vitro. There is evidence of human antibody formation to
the bovine leukemia virus; this is disturbing. How did the bovine leukemia
virus particles gain access to humans and become antigens? Was it as small,
- If the bovine leukemia viruses causes human leukemia,
we could expect the dairy states with known leukemic herds to have a higher
incidence of human leukemia. Is this so? Unfortunately, it seems to be
the case! Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin have statistically
higher incidence of leukemia than the national average. In Russia and in
Sweden, areas with uncontrolled bovine leukemia virus have been linked
with increases in human leukemia. I am also told that veterinarians have
higher rates of leukemia than the general public. Dairy farmers have significantly
elevated leukemia rates. Recent research shows lymphocytes from milk fed
to neonatal mammals gains access to bodily tissues by passing directly
through the intestinal wall.
- An optimistic note from the University of Illinois, Ubana
from the Department of Animal Sciences shows the importance of one's perspective.
Since they are concerned with the economics of milk and not primarily the
health aspects, they noted that the production of milk was greater in the
cows with the bovine leukemia virus. However when the leukemia produced
a persistent and significant lymphocytosis (increased white blood cell
count), the production fell off. They suggested "a need to re-evaluate
the economic impact of bovine leukemia virus infection on the dairy industry".
Does this mean that leukemia is good for profits only if we can keep it
under control? You can get the details on this business concern from Proc.
Nat. Acad. Sciences, U.S. Feb. 1989. I added emphasis and am insulted that
a university department feels that this is an economic and not a human
health issue. Do not expect help from the Department of Agriculture or
the universities. The money stakes and the political pressures are too
great. You're on you own.
- What does this all mean? We know that virus is capable
of producing leukemia in other animals. Is it proven that it can contribute
to human leukemia (or lymphoma, a related cancer)? Several articles tackle
- 1."Epidemiologic Relationships of the Bovine Population
and Human Leukemia in Iowa". Am Journal of Epidemiology
112 (1980): 80
- 2."Milk of Dairy Cows Frequently Contains a Leukemogenic
Virus". Science 213 (1981): 1014 3."Beware of the Cow".
(Editorial) Lancet 2 (1974):30
- 4."Is Bovine Milk A Health Hazard?". Pediatrics;
Suppl. Feeding the Normal Infant. 75:182-186; 1985
- In Norway, 1422 individuals were followed for 11 and
a half years. Those drinking 2 or more glasses of milk per day had 3.5
times the incidence of cancer of the lymphatic organs. British Med. Journal
61:456-9, March 1990.
- One of the more thoughtful articles on this subject is
from Allan S. Cunningham of Cooperstown, New York. Writing in the Lancet,
November 27, 1976 (page 1184), his article is entitled, "Lymphomas
and Animal-Protein Consumption". Many people think of milk as "liquid
meat" and Dr. Cunningham agrees with this. He tracked the beef and
dairy consumption in terms of grams per day for a one year period, 1955-1956.,
in 15 countries . New Zealand, United States and Canada were highest in
that order. The lowest was Japan followed by Yugoslavia and France. The
difference between the highest and lowest was quite pronounced: 43.8 grams/day
for New Zealanders versus 1.5 for Japan. Nearly a 30-fold difference! (Parenthetically,
the last 36 years have seen a startling increase in the amount of beef
and milk used in Japan and their disease patterns are reflecting this,
confirming the lack of "genetic protection" seen in migration
studies. Formerly the increase in frequency of lymphomas in Japanese people
was only in those who moved to the USA)!
- An interesting bit of trivia is to note the memorial
built at the Gyokusenji Temple in Shimoda, Japan. This marked the spot
where the first cow was killed in Japan for human consumption! The chains
around this memorial were a gift from the US Navy. Where do you suppose
the Japanese got the idea to eat beef? The year? 1930.
- Cunningham found a highly significant positive correlation
between deaths from lymphomas and beef and dairy ingestion in the 15 countries
analysed. A few quotations from his article follow:
- The average intake of protein in many countries is far
in excess of the recommended requirements. Excessive consumption of animal
protein may be one co-factor in the causation of lymphomas by acting in
the following manner. Ingestion of certain proteins results in the adsorption
of antigenic fragments through the gastrointestinal mucous membrane.
- This results in chronic stimulation of lymphoid tissue
to which these fragments gain accessChronic immunological stimulation causes
lymphomas in laboratory animals and is believed to cause lymphoid cancers
in menThe gastrointestinal mucous membrane is only a partial barrier to
the absorption of food antigens, and circulating antibodies to food protein
is commonplace especially potent lymphoid stimulants. Ingestion of cows'
milk can produce generalized lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, and profound
adenoid hypertrophy. It has been conservatively estimated that more than
100 distinct antigens are released by the normal digestion of cows' milk
which evoke production of all antibody classes [This may explain why pasteurized,
killed viruses are still antigenic and can still cause disease.
- Here's more. A large prospective study from Norway was
reported in the British Journal of Cancer 61 (3):456-9, March 1990. (Almost
16,000 individuals were followed for 11 and a half years). For most cancers
there was no association between the tumour and milk ingestion. However,
in lymphoma, there was a strong positive association. If one drank two
glasses or more daily (or the equivalent in dairy products), the odds were
3.4 times greater than in persons drinking less than one glass of developing
- There are two other cow-related diseases that you should
be aware of. At this time they are not known to be spread by the use of
dairy products and are not known to involve man. The first is bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), and the second is the bovine immunodeficiency virus
(BIV). The first of these diseases, we hope, is confined to England and
causes cavities in the animal's brain. Sheep have long been known to suffer
from a disease called scrapie. It seems to have been started by the feeding
of contaminated sheep parts, especially brains, to the British cows. Now,
use your good sense. Do cows seem like carnivores? Should they eat meat?
This profit-motivated practice backfired and bovine spongiform encephalopathy,
or Mad Cow Disease, swept Britain. The disease literally causes dementia
in the unfortunate animal and is 100 per cent incurable. To date, over
100,000 cows have been incinerated in England in keeping with British law.
Four hundred to 500 cows are reported as infected each month. The British
public is concerned and has dropped its beef consumption by 25 per cent,
while some 2,000 schools have stopped serving beef to children. Several
farmers have developed a fatal disease syndrome that resembles both BSE
and CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease). But the British Veterinary Association
says that transmission of BSE to humans is "remote."
- The USDA agrees that the British epidemic was due to
the feeding of cattle with bonemeal or animal protein produced at rendering
plants from the carcasses of scrapie-infected sheep. The have prohibited
the importation of live cattle and zoo ruminants from Great Britain and
claim that the disease does not exist in the United States. However, there
may be a problem. "Downer cows" are animals who arrive at auction
yards or slaughter houses dead, trampled, lacerated, dehydrated, or too
ill from viral or bacterial diseases to walk. Thus they are "down."
If they cannot respond to electrical shocks by walking, they are dragged
by chains to dumpsters and transported to rendering plants where, if they
are not already dead, they are killed. Even a "humane" death
is usually denied them. They are then turned into protein food for animals
as well as other preparations. Minks that have been fed this protein have
developed a fatal encephalopathy that has some resemblance to BSE. Entire
colonies of minks have been lost in this manner, particularly in Wisconsin.
It is feared that the infective agent is a prion or slow virus possible
obtained from the ill "downer cows."
- The British Medical Journal in an editorial whimsically
entitled "How Now Mad Cow?" (BMJ vol. 304, 11 Apr. 1992:929-30)
describes cases of BSE in species not previously known to be affected,
such as cats. They admit that produce contaminated with bovine spongiform
encephalopathy entered the human food chain in England between 1986 and
1989. They say. "The result of this experiment is awaited." As
the incubation period can be up to three decades, wait we must.
- The immunodeficency virus is seen in cattle in the United
States and is more worrisome. Its structure is closely related to that
of the human AIDS virus. At this time we do not know if exposure to the
raw BIV proteins can cause the sera of humans to become positive for HIV.
The extent of the virus among American herds is said to be "widespread".
(The USDA refuses to inspect the meat and milk to see if antibodies to
this retrovirus is present). It also has no plans to quarantine the infected
animals. As in the case of humans with AIDS, there is no cure for BIV in
cows. Each day we consume beef and diary products from cows infected with
these viruses and no scientific assurance exists that the products are
safe. Eating raw beef (as in steak Tartare) strikes me as being very risky,
especially after the Seattle E. coli deaths of 1993.
- A report in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research
, October 1992, Vol. 56 pp.353-359 and another from the Russian literature,
tell of a horrifying development. They report the first detection in human
serum of the antibody to a bovine immunodeficiency virus protein. In addition
to this disturbing report, is another from Russia telling us of the presence
of virus proteins related to the bovine leukemia virus in 5 of 89 women
with breast disease (Acta Virologica Feb. 1990 34(1): 19-26). The implications
of these developments are unknown at present. However, it is safe to assume
that these animal viruses are unlikely to "stay" in the animal
- OTHER CANCERS--DOES IT GET WORSE?
- Unfortunately it does. Ovarian cancer--a particularly
nasty tumour--was associated with milk consumption by workers at Roswell
Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, New York. Drinking more than one glass
of whole milk or equivalent daily gave a woman a 3.1 times risk over non-milk
users. They felt that the reduced fat milk products helped reduce the risk.
This association has been made repeatedly by numerous investigators.
- Another important study, this from the Harvard Medical
School, analyzed data from 27 countries mainly from the 1970s. Again a
significant positive correlation is revealed between ovarian cancer and
per capita milk consumption. These investigators feel that the lactose
component of milk is the responsible fraction, and the digestion of this
is facilitated by the persistence of the ability to digest the lactose
(lactose persistence) - a little different emphasis, but the same conclusion.
This study was reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology 130 (5):
904-10 Nov. 1989. These articles come from two of the country's leading
institutions, not the Rodale Press or Prevention Magazine.
- Even lung cancer has been associated with milk ingestion?
The beverage habits of 569 lung cancer patients and 569 controls again
at Roswell Park were studied in the International Journal of Cancer, April
15, 1989. Persons drinking whole milk 3 or more times daily had a 2-fold
increase in lung cancer risk when compared to those never drinking whole
- For many years we have been watching the lung cancer
rates for Japanese men who smoke far more than American or European men
but who develop fewer lung cancers. Workers in this research area feel
that the total fat intake is the difference.
- There are not many reports studying an association between
milk ingestion and prostate cancer. One such report though was of great
interest. This is from the Roswell Park Memorial Institute and is found
in Cancer 64 (3): 605-12, 1989. They analyzed the diets of 371 prostate
cancer patients and comparable control subjects:
- Men who reported drinking three or more glasses of whole
milk daily had a relative risk of 2.49 compared with men who reported never
drinking whole milkthe weight of the evidence appears to favour the hypothesis
that animal fat is related to increased risk of prostate cancer. Prostate
cancer is now the most common cancer diagnosed in US men and is the second
leading cause of cancer mortality.
- WELL, WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
- Is there any health reason at all for an adult human
to drink cows' milk?
- It's hard for me to come up with even one good reason
other than simple preference. But if you try hard, in my opinion, these
would be the best two: milk is a source of calcium and it's a source of
amino acids (proteins).
- Let's look at the calcium first. Why are we concerned
at all about calcium? Obviously, we intend it to build strong bones and
protect us against osteoporosis. And no doubt about it, milk is loaded
with calcium. But is it a good calcium source for humans? I think not.
These are the reasons. Excessive amounts of dairy products actually interfere
with calcium absorption. Secondly, the excess of protein that the milk
provides is a major cause of the osteoporosis problem. Dr. Hegsted in England
has been writing for years about the geographical distribution of osteoporosis.
It seems that the countries with the highest intake of dairy products are
invariably the countries with the most osteoporosis. He feels that milk
is a cause of osteoporosis. Reasons to be given below.
- Numerous studies have shown that the level of calcium
ingestion and especially calcium supplementation has no effect whatever
on the development of osteoporosis. The most important such article appeared
recently in the British Journal of Medicine where the long arm of our dairy
industry can't reach. Another study in the United States actually showed
a worsening in calcium balance in post-menopausal women given three 8-ounce
glasses of cows' milk per day. (Am. Journal of Clin. Nutrition, 1985).
The effects of hormone, gender, weight bearing on the axial bones, and
in particular protein intake, are critically important. Another observation
that may be helpful to our analysis is to note the absence of any recorded
dietary deficiencies of calcium among people living on a natural diet without
- For the key to the osteoporosis riddle, don't look at
calcium, look at protein. Consider these two contrasting groups. Eskimos
have an exceptionally high protein intake estimated at 25 percent of total
calories. They also have a high calcium intake at 2,500 mg/day. Their osteoporosis
is among the worst in the world. The other instructive group are the Bantus
of South Africa. They have a 12 percent protein diet , mostly plant protein,
and only 200 to 350 mg/day of calcium, about half our women's intake. The
women have virtually no osteoporosis despite bearing six or more children
and nursing them for prolonged periods! When African women immigrate to
the United States, do they develop osteoporosis? The answer is yes, but
not quite are much as Caucasian or Asian women. Thus, there is a genetic
difference that is modified by diet.
- To answer the obvious question, "Well, where do
you get your calcium?" The answer is: "From exactly the same
place the cow gets the calcium, from green things that grow in the ground,"
mainly from leafy vegetables. After all, elephants and rhinos develop their
huge bones (after being weaned) by eating green leafy plants, so do horses.
Carnivorous animals also do quite nicely without leafy plants. It seems
that all of earth's mammals do well if they live in harmony with their
genetic programming and natural food. Only humans living an affluent life
style have rampant osteoporosis.
- If animal references do not convince you, think of the
several billion humans on this earth who have never seen cows' milk. Wouldn't
you think osteoporosis would be prevalent in this huge group? The dairy
people would suggest this but the truth is exactly the opposite. They have
far less than that seen in the countries where dairy products are commonly
consumed. It is the subject of another paper, but the truly significant
determinants of osteoporosis are grossly excessive protein intakes and
lack of weight bearing on long bones, both taking place over decades. Hormones
play a secondary, but not trivial role in women. Milk is a deterrent to
good bone health.
- THE PROTEIN MYTH
- Remember when you were a kid and the adults all told
you to "make sure you get plenty of good protein". Protein was
the nutritional "good guy" when I was young. And of course milk
is fitted right in.
- As regards protein, milk is indeed a rich source of protein--"liquid
meat," remember? However that isn't necessarily what we need. In actual
fact it is a source of difficulty. Nearly all Americans eat too much protein.
- For this information we rely on the most authoritative
source that I am aware of. This is the latest edition (1oth, 1989: 4th
printing, Jan. 1992) of the "Recommended Dietary Allowances"
produced by the National Research Council. OF interest, the current editor
of this important work is Dr. Richard Havel of the University of California
in San Francisco. First to be noted is that the recommended protein has
been steadily revised downward in successive editions. The current recommendation
is 0.75 g/kilo/day for adults 19 through 51 years. This, of course, is
only 45 grams per day for the mythical 60 kilogram adult. You should also
know that the WHO estimated the need for protein in adults to by .6g/kilo
per day. (All RDA's are calculated with large safety allowances in case
you're the type that wants to add some more to "be sure.") You
can "get by" on 28 to 30 grams a day if necessary!
- Now 45 grams a day is a tiny amount of protein. That's
an ounce and a half! Consider too, that the protein does not have to be
animal protein. Vegetable protein is identical for all practical purposes
and has no cholesterol and vastly less saturated fat. (Do not be misled
by the antiquated belief that plant proteins must be carefully balanced
to avoid deficiencies. This is not a realistic concern.) Therefore virtually
all Americans, Canadians, British and European people are in a protein
overloaded state. This has serious consequences when maintained over decades.
The problems are the already mentioned osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and
kidney damage. There is good evidence that certain malignancies, chiefly
colon and rectal, are related to excessive meat intake. Barry Brenner,
an eminent renal physiologist was the first to fully point out the dangers
of excess protein for the kidney tubule. The dangers of the fat and cholesterol
are known to all. Finally, you should know that the protein content of
human milk is amount the lowest (0.9%) in mammals.
- IS THAT ALL OF THE TROUBLE?
- Sorry, there's more. Remember lactose? This is the principal
carbohydrate of milk. It seems that nature provides new-borns with the
enzymatic equipment to metabolize lactose, but this ability often extinguishes
by age 4 or 5 years.
- What is the problem with lactose or milk sugar? It seems
that it is a disaccharide which is too large to be absorbed into the blood
stream without first being broken down into monosaccharides, namely galactose
and glucose. This requires the presence of an enzyme, lactase plus additional
enzymes to break down the galactose into glucose.
- Let's think about his for a moment. Nature gives us the
ability to metabolize lactose for a few years and then shuts off the mechanism.
Is Mother Nature trying to tell us something? Clearly all infants must
drink milk. The fact that so many adults cannot seems to be related to
the tendency for nature to abandon mechanisms that are not needed. At least
half of the adult humans on this earth are lactose intolerant. It was not
until the relatively recent introduction of dairy herding and the ability
to "borrow" milk from another group of mammals that the survival
advantage of preserving lactase (the enzyme that allows us to digest lactose)
became evident. But why would it be advantageous to drink cows' milk? After
all, most of the human beings in the history of the world did. And further,
why was it just the white or light skinned humans who retained this knack
while the pigmented people tended to lose it?
- Some students of evolution feel that white skin is a
fairly recent innovation, perhaps not more than 20,000 or 30,000 years
old. It clearly has to do with the Northward migration of early man to
cold and relatively sunless areas when skins and clothing became available.
Fair skin allows the production of Vitamin D from sunlight more readily
than does dark skin. However, when only the face was exposed to sunlight
that area of fair skin was insufficient to provide the vitamin D from sunlight.
If dietary and sunlight sources were poorly available, the ability to use
the abundant calcium in cows' milk would give a survival advantage to humans
who could digest that milk. This seems to be the only logical explanation
for fair skinned humans having a high degree of lactose tolerance when
compared to dark skinned people.
- How does this break down? Certain racial groups, namely
blacks are up to 90% lactose intolerant as adults. Caucasians are 20 to
40% lactose intolerant. Orientals are midway between the above two groups.
Diarrhea, gas and abdominal cramps are the results of substantial milk
intake in such persons. Most American Indians cannot tolerate milk. The
milk industry admits that lactose intolerance plays intestinal havoc with
as many as 50 million Americans. A lactose-intolerance industry has sprung
up and had sales of $117 million in 1992 (Time May 17, 1993.)
- What if you are lactose-intolerant and lust after dairy
products? Is all lost? Not at all. It seems that lactose is largely digested
by bacteria and you will be able to enjoy your cheese despite lactose intolerance.
Yogurt is similar in this respect. Finally, and I could never have dreamed
this up, geneticists want to splice genes to alter the composition of milk
(Am J Clin Nutr 1993 Suppl 302s).
- One could quibble and say that milk is totally devoid
of fibre content and that its habitual use will predispose to constipation
and bowel disorders.
- The association with anemia and occult intestinal bleeding
in infants is known to all physicians. This is chiefly from its lack of
iron and its irritating qualities for the intestinal mucosa. The pediatric
literature abounds with articles describing irritated intestinal lining,
bleeding, increased permeability as well as colic, diarrhea and vomiting
in cows' milk-sensitive babies. The anemia gets a double push by loss of
blood and iron as well as deficiency of iron in the cows' milk. Milk is
also the leading cause of childhood allergy.