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Debunking the Dairy Dogma

Written by Brian Wimer   
Tuesday, 07 October 2008 10:18
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Studies suggest that milk isn't the "health kick" it's advertised to be.

"Got Milk?" The ad phrase turned pop-mantra does as much disservice to English grammar as it does to dietary science - an ill-worded, seemingly-unassailable, anecdotal justification for overindulgence. Boy, talk about sacred cows.

According to the USDA, the nation's 7.79 million dairy cows produce 150 billion pounds of milk every year, contributing to the manufacture of 1.4 billion pounds of butter, 8.6 billion pounds of cheese and 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream. The average American consumes over 600 pounds of dairy products every year. The Dairy Board, the USDA and the FDA think that's not enough, encouraging Americans to drink at least three glasses of milk daily.

But Dr. Robert M. Kradjian, Breast Surgery Chief of California 's Seton Medical Center , thinks three glasses is too much. In fact, he thinks you shouldn't drink any milk at all. After systematically reviewing the archives of medical and scientific journals, his findings were "slightly less than horrifying." Think milk does a body good? Think again.

"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." Here's just a taste of the dairy dilemma Dr. Kradjian uncovered.

Let's begin with cancer. A 1989 study from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute reported that people drinking whole milk three or more times daily had a 2-fold increase in lung cancer risk when compared to those never drinking whole milk. Another Roswell Park study reported that drinking more than one glass of whole milk daily increases a woman's risk of ovarian cancer by 3.1 times.

These findings were corroborated in a 2000 Harvard Medical School study, tracking 80,000 nurses, which found that even skim milk consumption (the culprit being lactose, a milk sugar, not milkfat) increases women's risk of ovarian cancer by 66%. The implications are worldwide. A 1989 Harvard Medical School study, which analyzed data from 27 countries, found a significant positive correlation between ovarian cancer and per capita milk consumption.