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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cow's Milk Is for Calves

I've always thought that cows' milk is for calves, not humans. I rarely drink it now; I use soy milk in my morning bowl of cereal. Research reported today (or here) seems to confirm the inappropriateness of cow's milk for humans:
Commercial cows' milk increases uterine size in young ovariectomized and sexually immature rats, according to a report in the May 1st issue of the International Journal of Cancer. ...

Similarly, in immature female rats, consumption of commercial cows' milk was associated with significantly higher uterine weights than was consumption of artificial milk. Uterine weights were, however, significantly higher in rats that received milk and estrogen solution than either of the other milk-treated groups. ...

Dr. Sato concludes that milk and dairy product consumption should be kept to a minimum. These products "contain sex steroid hormones, which promote the development of hormone-dependent cancers (prostate cancer in men, and breast and ovarian cancers in women)" [emphasis added]. Dr. Sato also does not recommend milk for prepubertal children."

Yes, people have been drinking cow's milk for eons, but only for the last century or so in the United States has the dairy lobby machine (such as the American Dairy Association and the National Dairy Council) pushed it so much. What American who's ever been near a TV doesn't know about the "Got milk?" campaign? And the United States is one of the few countries in which people drink cow's milk past childhood. The dairy machine wants you to drink milk for strong bones and teeth, and and it even claims, on the basis of spurious interpretation of research, that milk will help dieters lose weight. But here's the real scoop on cow's milk consumption and weight:
Children who drink more than three servings of milk each day are prone to becoming overweight, according to a large new study that undermines a heavily advertised dairy industry claim that milk helps people lose weight.

The study of more than 12,000 children nationwide found that the more milk they drank, the more weight they gained: Those consuming more than three servings each day were about 35 percent more likely to become overweight than those who drank one or two.

"The take-home message is that children should not be drinking milk as a means of losing weight or trying to control weight," said Catherine S. Berkey of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who led the study, the largest to examine the question in children.

The National Dairy Council has spent $200 million since 2003 to promote the idea that milk can help people lose weight. Some research has suggested that calcium or other elements in milk may cause the body to make less fat and speed its elimination, but the studies produced mixed results. ...

The researchers examined the relationship between the children's milk intake between 1996 and 1999 and their weight over a one-year period. Those who drank more than three eight-ounce servings of milk a day gained the most weight, even after the researchers took into consideration factors such as physical activity, other dietary factors and growth. The association held, even though most of the children were drinking low-fat milk.

"That was surprising," Berkey said. "Apparently this applies to any kind of milk."

But a lot of the cow's milk consumed in the United States comes from cows that have been given antibiotics and hormones, such as bovine growth hormone, so it could very well be those substances, rather than the milk itself, that are causing cancers.

I'm going to stick with soy milk, thank you very much.



3 comments:

Wally said...

Banana split or shake made with soy? Ewww. I'll take my chances with milk, thanks :)

KathyF said...

If you really really want to be scared of dairy products, read Your Life in Your Hands, by Jane Plant. She had cancer and was given weeks to live until she figured out milk might be linked to her breast cancer. Then she wrote a book about everything she discovered about the links between dairy and cancer.

As for soy milk and ice cream, I'm making some soy ice cream right now! I use Better Than Milk brand (imported from the States, thanks to my daughter!) and I love it.

Katharine said...

I'll have to try soy ice cream. Thanks for the tip, KathyF.

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