Drinking cow’s milk is not necessary for our health. Human breast milk is the perfect food for human babies, while cow’s milk is the perfect food for baby cows. Cow’s milk naturally contains the large amount of hormones that is unhealthy for humans. Because they occur naturally, these hormones are even found in organically produced milk.
There is little evidence that high dairy intake protects against osteoporosis but substantial evidence that high intake can be harmful. Besides containing saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones and too much protein, milk is also linked to testicular cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
Fat, Cholesterol and Protein
Many dairy products tend to be high in saturated fats and cholesterol, which have been linked to heart disease. Milk protein is also a concern because it has been linked to coronary deaths and hardened, narrowed arteries.
Hormones, and Cancer
Research has found that the naturally occurring hormones in a pregnant cow’s milk increase the risks for testes, breast and prostate cancer. Milk from cows contains considerable amounts of female sex hormones, accounting for 60-80% of estrogens consumed by humans. Butter, meat, eggs, milk, and cheese are implicated in higher rates of hormone-dependent cancers in general. Breast cancer has been linked to consumption of milk and cheese.
Studies also find that countries that consumer higher amounts of dairy have higher rates of cancer. For instance, in the U.S., 1 in 6 men get prostate cancer, whereas 1 in 200,000 men in China get it. China does not consume as much dairy as the U.S. Studies also find that countries that have higher dairy intake, breast cancer increases.
Contaminants in Milk
Contaminants in milk are another serious concern. American milk is banned in the European Union because of added recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). When administered to cows, rBGH causes the cows to produce up to 20% more milk, but also causes the cows to produce more Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). According to the Organic Consumers Association, some of the rBGH given to cows ends up in the milk. The Cancer Prevention Coalition states:
It is highly likely that IGF-1 promotes transformation of normal breast cells to breast cancers. In addition, IGF-1 maintains the malignancy of human breast cancer cells, including their invasiveness and ability to spread to distant organs.
RBGH also increases the risk of mastitis, which sometimes leads to pus, bacteria and blood getting into the milk. Federal law in the US allows up to 50 million pus cells per cup of milk. GROSS!!!
Another contaminant found in cow’s milk is pesticide residue, which is fat soluble. Because of this, the pesticide residue becomes concentrated in the milk and tissues of animals.
While cow’s milk is high in calcium, it is also high in protein. Excess protein in our diets causes calcium to leach out of our bones. North America consumes more dairy products than most countries in the world, and also has the highest incidence of osteoporosis. To combat osteoporosis, it is best to exercise and eat beans (full of protein) and leafy green vegetables (provides calcium). See previous post about “Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium.”
Furthermore, calcium intake may be less important for bone health than we’ve been led to believe. A study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health published in 1997 found that increased consumption of milk and other calcium-rich foods by adult women did not reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium retention is important for preventing osteoporosis. Sodium, smoking, caffeine and physical inactivity can all cause us to lose calcium.