The Perils of Dairy

While growing up I drank a lot of milk. Probably 3 glasses a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was told it was “good for your bones” and “just good for you”. We didn’t drink that 1%, 2% or non-fat kind. We drank the full blown whole fat milk. It tasted better! And we ate a lot of ice cream too. Truth be told, still do.

Well, well, well. How times have changed. For quite some time we’ve heard of those that are lactose intolerant. This is when an individual goes through gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea and flatulence because they don’t have the right enzyme to digest the milk sugar lactose. This is a real issue for these people. And then there are those that have dairy allergies. This is a good spot to discuss the difference between the two. And yes, there is a BIG difference. As stated above when you have an intolerance to dairy you’re unable to digest it. This is not life threatening. However dairy allergies are. A food allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a specific protein. When the protein is ingested, it can trigger an allergic reaction which can be mild (rashes, hives) to severe (trouble breathing, loss of consciousness). A food allergy can be potentially fatal.

Even if you don’t have an intolerance or an allergy to dairy there are still good reasons not to be digesting dairy. Consumption of dairy products have been linked to higher risk for various cancers, especially to the reproductive system. Here’s the technical stuff. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is found in cow’s milk. Consumption of dairy products on a regular basis has shown to increase levels of IGF-1. Case-control studies have shown a strong and consistent connection between serum IGF-1 concentrations and prostate cancer. The Physicians Health Study tracked 21,660 people for 28 years. And found an increased risk of prostate cancer for those who consumed 2.5 servings of dairy per day compared to those who consumed .5 servings a day. The same study showed that prostate cancer risk was elevated also with increased consumption of low-fat milk. This suggests that too much dairy calcium, not just the fat could be a potential threat to prostate health.

And ladies you have not been left out of this. Higher amounts of high-fat dairy product consumption were associated with higher mortality rates in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology Study which included 1893 women. As little as a .5 serving a day increased risk significantly. Consumption of milk and dairy products contributes to the majority (60-70%) of estrogen intake in the human diet. Estrogen metabolites are considered risk factors for breast and ovarian cancer. The Iowa Women’s Health Study, found that women who drank more than one glass of milk per day had a 73% greater chance of developing ovarian cancer than women who drank less than one glass per day.

If you can’t get your calcium needs through milk, where can you? And by the way the recommended calcium intake is 1,000 mg/day for men and women 19-50 yrs old and 1,200 mg/day for those older than 51. Great sources of calcium are broccoli, brussel sprouts, collards, kale, mustard greens, green cabbage, chickpeas and tofu. (pcrm2) So as we’ve stated in past posts. Have at it with your green leafy vegetables!

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2 Responses

  1. Bart

    Hi Karl,
    I always like your posts and articles!
    This one hit home. It was about 15 years ago I started using soy milk and truly, the gas stopped passing…lol. I realized there was some lactose intolerance. Today I use Almond milk and when I do get a craving for a vanilla malted shake…at least I am prepared. :). Thanks

  2. Marianne Burton

    Thanks for keeping us informed, Karl!