White-Washed (Part 2): Milk & the Big C.

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So we’ve looked at HOW milk depletes calcium and contributes to osteoporosis, but what about milk as a “risky”, “chemical carcinogen”…??

In the last post I mentioned that many milk related research articles had focused on less than pleasant conditions. One of these unpleasant conditions is intestinal bleeding and it occurs mostly in infants and young children, often times leading to iron-deficient anemia.

Unfortunately the earlier that you give a child cows milk to drink, the higher the risk of that child experiencing occult gastro-intestinal bleeding.

What the hell is that? It means that the child starts bleeding INSIDE their gut, which is very difficult to know as you will not see bright red blood spilling out anywhere, and as it occurs in small quantities it is also difficult to detect by looking at their stool. Over time this blood loss will also result in iron loss and this is compounded by the fact that cows milk is very low in iron (which is why it’s unsuitable for infants in the first place). The small amount of iron present is not very well absorbed, certainly not in the way that iron from human breast milk is. It is very unfortunate but this condition can affect up to 40% of otherwise healthy infants, and iron deficiency in early childhood has been shown to lead to decreases in intelligence.

For the rest of the population milk is touted as a healthy nutrient source that can be consumed generally without reservation. The problem here is that dairy products are high in saturated fats, high in cholesterol, and contain allergenic and auto-immune inducing antibodies that are just not designed to support human health. And in a world that is getting sicker and fatter, consuming a substance designed to make you put on weight should just not be on the menu!

Hang on, did I just say milk makes you PUT ON weight?

Ummm, yep, thats a no brainer really. Cows milk contains growth hormones designed to help a baby cow QUADRUPLE its body weight (in pounds) in the first six months of life! (And no, I’m not talking about the nasty synthetic growth hormones (rBGH) that are injected into many many cows worldwide to increase milk supply- the commercial pressures affecting cows milk production would be a separate blog post altogether – I’m talking about the natural hormones that occur in mothers milk to help her infant grow!) You’re not immune to these growth promoters just because you’re a human, in fact the consequences for humans are much scarier than just putting on a few pounds!

It makes sense that the milk of each species is perfectly designed to cater to the growth and development of the young of those species. Human milk is therefore perfectly designed to nourish baby humans. And similarly cows milk is perfectly designed to nourish baby cows.


Mammals milk actually acts somewhat like a communication bridge between the mother and the child, with hundreds of different chemical messengers and biologically active substances being transferred from one to the other. There has been a lot of research into the components of breast milk but there is still a lot to identify, and I would imagine the same can be said for cows milk. We do know however that these substances direct and educate the immune system, the metabolism, and the gut bacteria balance. There are also enzymes, hormones and growth factors that send signals which influence the growth and development of the infant. These communication mechanisms are incredibly useful for mothers and infants of the same species but the effect of those substances on the infant of another species are largely unknown.

The bacteria that each species requires for gut health are also completely different, and a mothers milk will not only contain a selection of these species depending on the needs of the infant, but will also naturally contain substances that help to support their growth and/or proliferation. In humans for example, for many years it was not understood why oligo-saccaharides were present in breast milk. These are indigestible carbohydrate molecules so their function was not clear, what is their purpose if the child cannot digest them? More recently however it has been shown that these molecules actually nourish and support the newly forming gut bacteria and help them to grow in number and type, so as to establish an appropriate gut environment and immune system, promoting long term health and wellbeing.

Is it too far of a stretch to think that other mammals milk would provide the same? What is the consequence of nourishing bacteria that we do not want or need in a human body?


These immune factors may be necessary to support a baby cow, but at the end of the day to a human they are just pus. No, you read it right, I said pus. P.U.S. Pus. Useless (to us) white blood cells (somatic cells) that create inflammation and immune problems in a human body. And that’s just from a healthy cow, I’m not even going to go into the ramifications of widespread mastitis, antibiotic use, and the residues left behind.

Did you know that in Australia (NZ, the EU, Canada, and Switzerland) the allowable somatic cell limit is 400,000 cells/mL. PER mL. Its 750,000 in the US and 1,000,000 in Brazil. That means that Down Under 1L of milk can legally contain up to 400million pus cells. (That equals 1BILLION pus cells per litre in Brazil!! Ewwww…) And that’s assuming that the counting technique is correct… no surprise that concerns have been raised over how efficient that is too!

Now if you’re thinking…. Hello? We’re drinking pasteurised milk over here, there ain’t no nasty bacteria I gotta worry about, let me borrow Dr. Mercola’s words (from his website);

“First of all, please understand that I do not recommend drinking pasteurised milk of any kind – ever. Because once milk has been pasteurized it’s more or less “dead,” and offers little in terms of real nutritional value to anyone, whether you show signs of intolerance to the milk or not.

Valuable enzymes are destroyed, vitamins (such as A, C, B6 and B12) are diminished, fragile milk proteins are radically transformed from health nurturing to unnatural amino acid configurations that can actually worsen your health. Finally the eradication of beneficial bacteria through the pasteurization process actually ends up promoting pathogens.”

So if we can’t drink it raw, and we shouldn’t drink it pasteurised… ummm…. remind me again why are we drinking it at all??

Still Got Milk?


So let’s finally address the elephant (“chemical carcinogen”) in the room.

We mentioned that milk contains substances that promote growth. One of these substances is called Insulin-like Growth Factor or IGF-1. It is a hormone that is produced in the liver and tissues, and it helps babies (humans and cows) to grow by promoting cell growth and division.

The IGF-1 present in cows milk and human milk is identical, and as a result milk and dairy products, more than any other dietary factor, have the greatest effects on increasing IGF-1 levels in your body. Some IGF-1 from milk may cross the gut wall directly, theoretically increasing your levels, however it appears that other components in the milk actually stimulate your liver to rapidly increase its own production of human IGF-1.

But what does this have to do with cancer?
Well we mentioned that IGF-1 promotes cell growth and division, but if you don’t need to do any more rapid growing right now, i.e. because you’re no longer an infant and you’ve been weaned(!!) this hormone will go find other cells to stimulate, normal cells AND cancerous cells.

Even a small rise in the amount of IGF-1 circulating in your blood puts you at risk for many common cancers, and each time you drink milk you are increasing the amount of IGF-1 in your bloodstream. There is now a growing body of scientific literature that strongly supports the link between high levels of IGF-1 and cancers, with IGF-1 levels now looked to as a predictor or indicator of future risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and ovarian cancer. YIKES!

One particular study was even able to measure this increase in IGF-1, by measuring IGF-1 levels in 54 Danish boys aged 2.5years old. They showed that increasing cows milk consumption from 200mL to 600mL per day was associated with a 30% increase in the level of IGF-1 circulating in their blood!! That is huge!

On a fundamental, biochemical level, the effect that cows milk has on the human body is enormous to say the least, and to think that we can just continue to consume milk and dairy products without reservation and without any ill effects is ludicrous.


While I may have given some detail here I have certainly not addressed the multitude of health issues attributed to dairy consumption which also include acne, allergies, arthritis, colic, heart disease, diabetes, infections, gallstones, kidney disease, migraines, MS, and obesity… just to name a few.

I haven’t even touched on the environmental effects (disastrous) or the animal welfare aspects (deplorable) of the dairy industry, or how all of this milking actually effects the health and wellbeing of the cattle in question, let alone their babies! Remember you have to have a baby to make milk, but you can’t milk for people if you’re feeding your baby! No guesses as to who misses out on this one!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that even for as much as I love butter, and cheese, I can’t actually see anything positive about consuming dairy, in any form, nor within the industry itself. The only possible exception being very small amounts of organic, pasture-raised, raw, dairy products… but wait, that can’t possibly be safe because consuming raw dairy is illegal. So that must make it dangerous. Because our laws are designed to PROTECT the people… aren’t they? Or are they?

In fact, I think the whole world would actually be better off if we scrapped the commercial dairy industry all together. Less global warming, less deforestation, less trampling of otherwise fertile ground, less antibiotic use, less grain for livestock and more food for people, less disease, less allergies, less sickness, less obesity, less cancer… We can leave cows milk for baby cows, and human milk for baby humans. And once you’re weaned…. GROW UP!! 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Berry, E., Middleton, N., Gravenor, M. and Hillerton, E. 2003. Science (or art) of cell counting. Proceedings of the British Mastitis Conference (2003) Garstang. 73-83 [online]. Available from: www.britishmastitisconference.org.uk/BMC2003Proceedings.pdf

Butler, J. 2014. Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) Retrieved from http://www.whitelies.org.uk/health-nutrition/insulin-growth-factor-1-igf-1

Butler, J. 2014. White Lies. Viva! Health. Bristol. 17-20, 27, 31-50, 76-79. Also available online: http://www.whitelies.org.uk/sites/default/files/milkmyths/White%20Lies%20report%202014.pdf

FSA, 2002. McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, 6th summary edition. Cambridge, England, Royal Society of Chemistry.

German JB, Dillard CJ and Ward RE. 2002. Bioactive components in milk. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 5 (6) 653-658.

Got The Facts On Milk. Dir. Lane, Shira. Unleashed Productions. 2011. Film.

Holly, 2013. Professor Jeff Holly (jeff.holly@bristol.ac.uk) September 2 2013. IGF-1 and dairy consumption. E-mail to J. Butler (justine@viva.org.uk).

Hoppe C, Udam TR, Lauritzen L, Molgaard C, Juul A and Michaelsen KF. 2004. Animal protein intake, serum insulin-like growth factor I, and growth in healthy 2.5-y-old Danish children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 80 (2) 447-452.

Mercola. 2010, April 27. Avoid Drinking Pasteurized Milk Until You Learn the Shocking Details. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/27/does-drinking-milk-cause-upperrespiratory-congestion.aspx

The University of Waikato. Microbiology. Retrieved from http://sci.waikato.ac.nz/farm/content/microbiology.html

Willetts IE, Dalzell M, Puntis JW and Stringer MD. 1999. Cow’s milk enteropathy: surgical pitfalls. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 34 (10) 1486-1488. Williams G

Wikipedia. 2016, February 11. Somatic Cell Count. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatic_cell_count

Wu Y, Yakar S, Zhao L, Hennighausen L and LeRoith D. 2002. Circulating insulin-like growth factor-I levels regulate colon cancer growth and metastasis. Cancer Research. 62 (4) 1030-1035.

Ziegler EE, Fomon SJ, Nelson SE, Rebouche CJ, Edwards BB, Rogers RR and Lehman LJ. 1990. Cow milk feeding in infancy: further observations on blood loss from the gastrointestinal tract. The Journal of Pediatrics. 116 (1) 11-8.

Ziegler EE. 2011. Consumption of cow’s milk as a cause of iron deficiency in infants and toddlers. Nutrition Reviews. 69 Supplement 1:S37-S42.

2008. http://betacasein.net/

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