Milk Letter: A Message to My Patients
Robert M. Kradjian, MD
Chief of Breast Surgery, Division of General Surgery
Seton Medical Centre
New York Times magazine - October 6, 2002
Just the word itself sounds comforting! "How about a nice cup of
warm milk?" The last time you heard that question it was from someone
who cared about you and you appreciated their caring.
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.
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.
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 colorful charts proclaiming
the necessity of milk and other essential nutrients were made available
at no cost for schools. Cow's milk became "normal."
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.
are students of human nutrition who are not supportive of milk use
for adults. Here is a quotation from the March/April 1991 Utne Reader:
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.
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?
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.
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
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 and cancer.
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
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.
is a maternal lactating secretion, a short-term nutrient for newborns.
Nothing more. 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.
ALL MILK THE SAME?
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?
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 one.
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.
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.
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 made on the human hand and the demands
on a cow's hoof. Human newborns specifically need critical material
for their brains, spinal cord and nerves.
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 ten IQ points higher!
Well, why not? Why wouldn't the correct building blocks for the
rapidly maturing and growing brain have a positive effect?
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 disorders cleared.
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.
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.
AT LEAST COW'S MILK IS PURE
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.
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 percent) 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 labeling for that reason, and because the labeling 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
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 milliliter. (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 four of the 82 drugs in dairy cows.
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."
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).
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.
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 two 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 drugs down to five parts per
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 four to seven 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,"
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 contamination).
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:
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
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.
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 acute gastrointestinal blood loss in infants, the lack of iron,
recurrent abdominal pain, milk-borne infections and contaminants,
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?
the same issue of Pediatrics he further commented:
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), acute
gastrointestinal bleeding, and various manifestations of food allergy.
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.
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
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 profit involved.
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 still 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 pasteurized
whole milk. This is despite safety precautions.
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 three months
and diabetes risk.".
study from Finland found that diabetic children had higher levels
of serum antibodies to cow's milk (Diabetes Research 7(3): 137-140
March 1988). Here is a quotation from this study:
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 than normal.
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
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 past?
LYMPHOMA? THIS MAY BE THE WORST BRACE YOURSELF!
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 pasteurization
if the pasteurization 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).
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.
mentioned, the leukemia virus is rendered inactive by pasteurization.
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 pasteurized milk occurred. A violent salmonella outbreak
followed, killing four 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 one to three
decades. There are reports of "leukemia clusters" elsewhere, one
of them mentioned in the June 10, 1990 San Francisco Chronicle involving
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, denatured
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
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.
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 this one:
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.
Norway, 1422 individuals were followed for 11 and a half years.
Those drinking two 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.
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)!
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.
found a highly significant positive correlation between deaths from
lymphomas and beef and dairy ingestion in the 15 countries analyzed.
A few quotations from his article follow:
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
results in chronic stimulation of lymphoid tissue to which these
fragments gain access "Chronic immunological stimulation causes
lymphomas in laboratory animals and is believed to cause lymphoid
cancers in men." The 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.
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 for11 and a half years). For most cancers
there was no association between the tumor 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 a lymphoma.
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."
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."
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.
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 Tartar) strikes me as being very risky, especially
after the Seattle E. coli deaths of 1993.
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 five 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 kingdom.
CANCERS DOES IT GET WORSE?
it does. Ovarian cancer a particularly nasty tumor
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.
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.
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 three or more times daily
had a two-fold increase in lung cancer risk when compared to those
never drinking whole milk.
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.
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:
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 milk the weight of the evidence appears to favor
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.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
there any health reason at all for an adult human to drink cows'
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
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.
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 milk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
THAT ALL OF THE TROUBLE?
there's more. Remember lactose? This is the principal carbohydrate
of milk. It seems that nature provides newborns with the enzymatic
equipment to metabolize lactose, but this ability often extinguishes
by age four or five years.
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.
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?
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
does this break down? Certain racial groups, namely African Americans,
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.)
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).
could quibble and say that milk is totally devoid of fiber content
and that its habitual use will predispose to constipation and bowel
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 cow's 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.
additional topic: the matter of "low fat" milk. A common and sincere
question is: "Well, low fat milk is OK, isn't it?"
answer to this question is that low fat milk isn't low fat. The
term "low fat" is a marketing term used to gull the public. Low
fat milk contains from 24 to 33% fat as calories! The 2% figure
is also misleading. This refers to weight. They don't tell you that,
by weight, the milk is 87% water!
then, killjoy, surely you must approve of non-fat milk!" I hear
this quite a bit. (Another constant concern is: "What do you put
on your cereal?") True, there is little or no fat, but now you have
a relative overburden of protein and lactose. If there is something
that we do not need more of, it is another simple sugar-lactose
composed of galactose and glucose. Millions of Americans are lactose
intolerant to boot, as noted. As for protein, as stated earlier,
we live in a society that routinely ingests far more protein than
we need. It is a burden for our bodies, especially the kidneys,
and a prominent cause of osteoporosis. Concerning the dry cereal
issue, I would suggest soy milk, rice milk or almond milk as a healthy
substitute. If you're still concerned about calcium, "Westsoy" is
formulated to have the same calcium concentration as milk.
my thinking, there is only one valid reason to drink milk or use
milk products. That is just because we simply want to. Because we
like it and because it has become a part of our culture. Because
we have become accustomed to its taste and texture. Because we like
the way it slides down our throat. Because our parents did the very
best they could for us and provided milk in our earliest training
and conditioning. They taught us to like it. And then probably the
very best reason is ice cream! I've heard it described "to die for".
had one patient who did exactly that. He had no obvious vices. He
didn't smoke or drink, he didn't eat meat, his diet and lifestyle
was nearly a perfectly health promoting one; but he had a passion.
You guessed it, he loved rich ice cream. A pint of the richest would
be a lean day's ration for him. On many occasions he would eat an
entire quart and yes there were some cookies and other pastries.
Good ice cream deserves this after all. He seemed to be in good
health despite some expected "middle age spread" when he had a devastating
stroke which left him paralyzed, miserable and helpless, and he
had additional strokes and died several years later never having
left a hospital or rehabilitation unit. Was he old? I don't think
so. He was in his 50s.
don't drink milk for health. I am convinced on the weight of the
scientific evidence that it does not "do a body good." Inclusion
of milk will only reduce your diet's nutritional value and safety.
of the people on this planet live very healthfully without cows'
milk. You can too.
will be difficult to change; we've been conditioned since childhood
to think of milk as "nature's most perfect food." I'll guarantee
you that it will be safe, improve your health and it won't cost
anything. What can you lose?
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