The Disadvantages of Dairy
including 15 recent
scientific studies and reports
by Alex Jack,
in cooperation with Adelbert Nelissen
Dairy products, including milk, cream, butter, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, have traditionally been eaten in cold, northern countries or mountainous regions. In the rest of the world, most people are allergic to milk and dairy products. In Asia, 80 percent of the population is lactose-intolerant, in the Mediterranean 60 percent, and among African-Americans 70 percent.
In extreme cold or hot environments where grains and vegetables foods are minimally available, dairy food is an important source of nutrients. Its high-fat content is warming and insulating, and energetically dairy contributes to a gentle, obedient character.
Modern dairy food is generally very poor in quality because of factory farming methods, use of antibiotics, BGH, and other growth hormones, and pasteurization and other sterilization methods that may kill beneficial microorganisms as well as harmful ones. In modern society, dairy consumption generally produces excessive mucus and is a frequent cause of colds, allergies, sinus troubles, asthma, intestinal problems such as candida, infertility, arteriosclerosis and heart disease, and cysts and tumors, especially those of the breast.
Dairy food consumption, including milk, cheese, butter, cream, ice cream and yogurt, has fallen sharply in recent years following the association of dairy foods, high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein, with cardiovascular disease and various cancers. Medical groups are starting to warn about the dangers of dairy for infants and children.
The following scientific and medical studies and reports are representative of current research showing the potentially harmful effects of dairy food or the superiority of plant-quality foods as part of a balanced diet.
Dairy Associated with Allergies and Asthma
In food trials, a teenage boy in the hospital with muscular and skeletal pains, bronchial asthma, abdominal pains, headache, and dark circles under the eyes experienced substantial improvement within two days when milk and chocolate were taken out of the diet.
'Within forty-eight hours the facial pallor and the dark circles under his eyes almost completely disappeared," researchers reported. "Most remarkable was the improvement in his mood and behavior. He became alert and interested in his surroundings, was surprisingly cheerful and began to take a keen interest in sporting activities and art classes at which he excelled. He no longer complained of vague aches and pains. His asthma was easily controlled." Following three weeks of the therapeutic diet, milk was given to him again and the pallor, dark circles, and other symptoms returned.
Source: E. G. Weinberg and M. Tuchinda, "Allergic Tension-Fatigue Syndrome," Annals of Allergy 31:209-11, 1973.
Milk, Cheese, and Butter Raise Breast Cancer Risk
Dairy food may be the most potent factor in the development of breast cancer. A study of 250 women with breast cancer in the northwestern province of Vercelli, Italy, found that they tended to consume considerably more milk, high-fat cheese, and butter than 499 healthy women of the same age in Italy and France.
Breast cancer risk tripled among women who consumed about half their calories as fat, 13 to 23 percent of their calories as saturated fat, and 8 to 20 percent of their calories as animal protein.
"These data suggest that during adult life, a reduction in dietary intake of fat and proteins of animal origin may contribute to a substantial reduction in the incidence of breast cancer in population subgroups with high intake of animal products," researchers concluded. "[A] diet rich in fat, saturated fat, or animal proteins may be associated with a twofold to threefold increase in a woman's risk of breast cancer."
Source: Paolo Toniolo et al., "Calorie-Providing Nutrients and Risk of Breast Cancer," Journal of the National Cancer Institute 81:278-86, 1989.
Cheese Elevates Breast Cancer Risk
In a Swiss case-control study, researchers found that breast cancer incidence was associated with higher consumption of cheese, meat, and alcohol, with cheese elevating risk the highest (2.7 times normal). Conversely, vegetable consumption offered significant protection (40 to 60 percent on average), especially green leafy vegetables.
Source: F. Levi et al., "Dietary Factors and Breast Cancer Risk in Vaud, Switzerland," Nutrition and Cancer 19:327-335, 1993.
Dairy Causes Colic
Antibodies in cow milk are the likely cause of colic in babies, and mothers who consume dairy products can pass them on in their breast milk. In a study at Washington University, mothers with colicky babies had significantly higher levels of cow antibodies in their milk as mothers of babies without colic. Colic, characterized by crying spells that can last 3 hours or more, affects about 20 percent of all babies in modern society. Dr. Frank Harris, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the study told frustrated mothers: "It may not be what you're doing. It may be what you're eating."
Source: P. S. Clyne and A. Kulczycki, Jr., "Human Breast Milk Contains Bovine IgG. Relationship to Infant Colic?" Pediatrics 87(4):439-44, 1991.
Giving cow's milk to babies may increase their risk of developing diabetes.
Researchers reported that children with diabetes produced large amounts of antibodies against cow's milk which may attack the pancreas cells which make insulin.
Source: J. Karjalainen et al., "A Bovine Albumin Peptide as a Possible Trigger of Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus," New England Journal of Medicine 327:302–7, 1992.
Dairy and Iron Deficiency in Infants
In response to reports of iron deficiency in infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children under 1 year of age not be given whole cow's milk or low-iron infant formula.
Source: "Cow's Milk Not Advised for Infants," Boston Globe, May 15, 1992
Dairy Increases Risk of Ovarian Cancer
Dairy food consumption has been linked with ovarian cancer by researchers at Harvard. The scientists noted that women with ovarian cancer had low blood levels of transferase, an enzyme involved in the metabolism of dairy foods. The researchers theorized that women with low levels of transferase who eat dairy foods, especially yogurt and cottage cheese, could increase their risk of ovarian cancer by as much as three times.
The researchers estimated that women who consume large amounts of yogurt and cottage cheese increased their risk of ovarian cancer up to three times. "Yogurt was consumed at least monthly by 49 percent of cases and 36 percent of controls," researchers reported. "World wide, ovarian cancer risk is strongly correlated with lactase persistence and per capita milk consumption, further epidemiological evidence that lactose rather than fat is the key dietary variable for ovarian cancer ... Avoidance of lactose-rich food by adults may be a way of primary prevention of ovarian cancer ... "
Source: Daniel W. Cramer et al., "Galactose Consumption and Metabolism in Relation to the Risk of Ovarian Cancer," Lancet 2:66-71, 1989.
Dr. Spock on Dairy
In the final edition of his best-selling book on Baby and Child Care, Dr. Spock warned against feeding cow's milk to infants and children: 'First, most green leafy vegetables and beans have a form of calcium that is absorbed as well or even a bit better than that in milk. They also have iron, vitamins, complex carbohydrate, and fiber which are generally lacking in milk.
'Second, dairy products contribute to a surprising number of health problems. They can impair a child's ability to absorb iron and in very small children can even cause subtle blood loss from the digestive tract. Combined with the fact that milk has virtually no iron of its own, the result is an increased risk of iron deficiency.
'Cow's milk proteins are a common cause of colic, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that there is evidence that cow's milk may well contribute to childhood-onset diabetes. Some children have sensitivities to milk proteins that show up as respiratory problems, chronic ear problems, or skin conditions.'
Source: Benjamin Spock, M.D. and Stephen J. Parker, M.D., Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, Little Brown, 1998.
Physicians Warn Against Dairy
Parents should be alerted to the potential risks to their children from cow's-milk products,' the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine declared. 'Milk should not be required or recommended in Government guidelines.' Milk is unhealthy, the committee asserted, because it contains too much fat, causes diabetes in susceptible children, leads to iron deficiency in infants, and causes colic, allergies, and digestive problems.
Neal D. Barnard, M.D., the committee's director said, 'Milk is a perfect food for calves and is well tolerated by some Caucasians, but for others it's a problem. I don't recommend milk for anyone."
Suzanne Havala, R.D., co-author of the American Dietetic Association's position paper on vegetarian diets, supported the recommendations. 'After weaning, there is no need for milk of any sort in the diet in any species.'
Dr. Frank Oski, director of the department of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine concurred, "There is no redeeming feature to cow's milk that should make people drink it."
Source: Marian Burros, 'Cows Milk and Children: A New No-No?,' New York Times, Sept. 30, 1992.
Dairy Harmful to Hearing and Fetal Development
Simulating the sound of the mother's voice in utero, Alfred Tomatis, M.D., the French expert in the effects of sound and music on human development, has cured thousands of cases of autism by recreating the sound of the mother's voice in embryo and playing it back to the autistic child to reestablish the sonic contact that was disrupted in the womb. "The vocal nourishment that the mother provides is just as important as her milk," he explains. For adopted children or children whose mother is dead or incapacitated, he uses the filtered music of Mozart, which has a similar effect. Dr. Tomatis recommends a natural diet high in whole grains, fresh vegetables, and less dairy food, especially yogurt, for optimal hearing and development.
Source: Don Campbell, The Mozart Effect (New York: Avon Books, 1997).
Beans Superior to Dairy in Inhibiting Induced Colon Cancer
In laboratory experiments, researchers at Northern Arizona University reported that rats fed a diet high in pinto beans had over four times less tumors than rats fed a diet high in dairy protein. The bean group also had slower growing tumors. The experiment was designed to simulate the high bean diet of Latin American countries where there is a low incidence of colon cancer. "This study demonstrates that dry beans contain anticarcinogenic compounds," the scientists concluded.
Source: J. S. Hughes et al., "Dry Beans Inhibit Azoxymethane-Induced Colon Carcinogenesis in F344 Rats," Journal of Nutrition 127(12):2328-33, 1997.
Dangers of Dairy Hormone
Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) is a genetically engineered hormone fed to dairy cows to boost milk production. While the FDA approved its use in 1995, health and consumer groups have expressed concerns about its safety and demanded that it be labeled. About 25 percent of the milk sold in the U.S. is made from cows treated with BGH.
According to a recent study in Lancet, women with a relatively small increase in blood levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-1), a naturally occurring grown hormone, are up to seven times more likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer than women with lower levels.
Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, an environmental cancer specialist at the University of Illinois, explained that BGH milk is supercharged with high levels of abnormally potent IGF-1, up 10 times the levels in natural milk and over 10 times more potent. IGF-1 resists pasteurization, digestion by stomach enzymes, and is well absorbed across the intestinal wall, he stated.
'The entire nation is currently being subjected to an experiment involving large-scale adulteration of an age-old dietary staple by a poorly characterized and unlabelled biotechnology product. Disturbingly, this experiment benefits only a very small segment of the agriculture industry while providing no matching benefits to consumers. Even more disturbingly it poses major potential public health risks for the entire U.S. population.'
Source: S. Epstein, 'Unlabeled Milk from Cows Treated with Biosynthetic Growth Hormones: A Case of Regulatory Abdication,' International Journal of Health Services 26(1): 173-185, 1996; PR Newswife via NewsEdge Corp., June 21, 1998.
BGH Effects on Cows Injecting
BGH reduces a cow's life expectancy and increases the risk of disease, contributing to increased use of antibiotics. Increased mastitis results in increased secretion of white blood cells or pus into the milk.
Source: J. Fagan, Genetic Engineering: The Hazards, MIU Press, 1995, p. 113.
Calcium Intake Unrelated to Dairy Intake
Calcium intake is not linked to strong bones or dairy intake, according to British researchers. In a study of mothers in England and Gambia, scientists found that the Africans, who ate a diet low in calcium and had as many as ten babies and breast fed each one, had comparable bone masses as English mothers who ate a high calcium diet and had had on average two children and breast fed them little or not at all. The researchers further found that the English women on a high-calcium diet, primarily from dairy foods, were more likely to get osteoporosis later in life than the Gambians. In further tests, calcium supplements proved useless in boosting the bone mass of women of childbearing age.
Source: T. J. Aspray et al., "Low Bone Mineral Content Is Common But Osteoporotic Fractures Are Rare in Elderly Rural Gambian Women," Journal of Bone Mineral Research 11(7):1019-25, 1996.
Dairy Linked to Lymphoid Cancers
In a case-control study in Italy, researchers found that high milk intake was associated with an 80 to 90 percent higher risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and soft tissue sarcomas. Ham and liver intake were linked to higher risk of Hodgkin's disease, while butter increased the risk of myelomas almost three times. Whole grain and vegetables were protective for many lymphoid cancers.
Source: A. Tavani et al., "Diet and Risk of Lymphoid Neoplams and Soft Tissue Sarcomas," Nutrition and Cancer 27(3):256-60, 1997.
Diet Reduces Risk of Lung Cancer
In a study of 413 lung cancer patients, researchers found that consumption of vegetables and fresh fruits significantly reduced the risk of developing the disease. Susan Taylor Mayne, an epidemiologist at Yale University School of Medicine, estimated that nonsmokers could reduce their risk by 40 percent by simply adding one-and-a-half servings of vegetables or fruits to their daily diet. The consumption of whole milk, meanwhile, increased the risk of lung cancer.
Source: Susan Taylor Mayne, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, January 5, 1994.
Dairy Increases Lung Cancer Risk
In a case control study of 308 men with lung cancer and 504 controls, Swedish researchers reported that higher consumption of milk increased risk of the disease in both smokers and nonsmokers. Lower vegetable intake also raised the risk. There was no significant risk for the disease among light to moderate smokers.
Source: R. Rylander et al., "Lung Cancer, Smoking and Diet Among Swedish Men," Lung Cancer 14 (Supplement 1):S75-83, 1996.
Kale Higher in Calcium Than Milk
Researchers from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, reported that the calcium in kale is readily absorbed by the body and more efficiently than the calcium contained in milk. In studies of 11 women, the absorption of calcium from 300 mg. of kale averaged .409, while from a similar amount of milk calcium absorption averaged .321.
"We interpret our findings as evidence of good bioavailability for kale calcium and probably for the loss of low-oxalate vegetable greens as well," the researchers concluded. Other greens they listed included broccoli, turnip, mustard, and collard greens.
Source: Robert P. Heaney and Connie M. Weaver, "Calcium Absorption from Kale," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 51: 656-57, 1990.