Got Milk? I hope not . . .

Myth: Milk is Good For You

The other night, after we gave a lecture in which we mentioned that we seldom recommend drinking milk, one of our guests jumped up and asked, “Well, if we don’t drink milk, how are we ever going to get our calcium?”

The answer is: Plenty of ways.  And milk isn’t the best of them.  In fact, the Federal Trade Commission recently asked the USDA to convene a panel of scientists to examine the claims in the milk industry’s ads that feature “Got Milk?”

The panel found no support for the claims that milk improves sports performance or that it builds bone and prevents osteoporosis.  They did find evidence of links between milk and heart disease as well as between milk and prostate cancer.  And they pointed out the suffering caused by lactose intolerance for over 75 percent of the world’s population, particularly among members of specific ethnic groups, including African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans – who have been featured prominently in these ads.

Milk is nature’s perfect food, the ads say – but only if you are a calf.  The truth is that medical research has linked milk to many common and preventable health problems.  It is a significant source of saturated fat in our diet, and has been linked to Type 1 Diabetes, as well as chronic constipation and anemia in children.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against feeding any milk products to infants less than one year of age.  And milk may actually account for an increase in fracture risk, instead of preventing osteoporosis (see American Journal of Public Health, 1997, vol. 87, pgs. 992-97, and the American Journal of Epidemiology, 1994, vol. 139, pages 439-505).

For many, milk is the cause of allergies, sinus problems, eczema, and ear infections as well as a potential source of irritable bowel syndrome and digestive problems.

Think about it: 75 percent of the world’s population doesn’t drink milk, except breast milk in infancy.  Where do they get their extra calcium?  Nowhere.  Most African women ingest little calcium – perhaps 300 to 500mg a day – yet they rarely come down with osteoporosis.  This is because they are not drinking alcohol, colas, or caffeine, or eating salt or excess animal protein – all of which can leach calcium out of your bones and into the toilet.

So if you’re ingesting salt, sugar, alcohol, and cola, but you’re not taking in a lot of calcium – rich greens, sardines, sesame seeds, nuts or beans – you do need higher amounts of this mineral.  The easy answer?  Eat those greens, sardines, sesame seeds, and so on.  (You can take supplements, too, but most of your calcium should come from your diet, because your body will absorb, and use, it better.)

By the way, there’s more reason to be concerned with the effects of milk besides those related to milk itself.  Consider the hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides found in milk that can also significantly impact our health.  Bovine growth hormone, used to increase milk production, may increase the likelihood of breast cancer.  And FDA surveys have shown that up to 86 percent of all milk samples contain antibiotics.  On top of that, the fat in animal tissues, especially butterfat, stores toxins from the environment.  These toxins are eaten by the cow in its feed and drunk in its water supply.  Eating meat or milk is a fast way to bring these toxins into our systems.  (Organic milk is better than nonorganic, but only in that it reduces the risk of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides.  It doesn’t answer the other problems caused by milk.)

Excerpt from Ultraprevention – By Mark Liponis, M.D. & Mark Hyman, M.D.
The Myths of Modern Medicine:  Pages 133-135

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