Most of us can recall the infamous milk commercials of the ‘90s. “Milk. It does a body good,” and “Got milk?” probably still rings a nostalgic bell for many.
What you may not understand yet is that the dairy industry, in cohort with the federal government, spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars on this marketing campaign. Oh, and your tax dollars covered most of the cost. Today, an estimated $4.5 billion of taxpayer money, our money, is subsidizing the dairy industry.
Meanwhile, we may have been forking over our hard-earned money on a product that does more harm than good.
“Milk, a rich source of calcium!” “Our kids need healthy bones!” and other (misleading) information proliferating from the dairy industry and federal government are idealistic at best, and outright deceitfulness at worst.
“A single glass of milk can contain a mixture of as many as 20 painkillers, antibiotics and growth hormones. Using a highly sensitive test, scientists found the chemicals in samples of cow, goat and human breast milk.” – Dr. Joseph Mercola
The Case Against Milk
While the dairy industry is all too eager to pontificate on the calcium and protein in milk (which is adequate), it fails to mention a few other essential things. For example, the 48% calories-to-fat ratio and 12 grams of sugar – all in just an 8-ounce serving of whole milk. The near absence of any essential vitamins has also “escaped” their attention.
In 1951, a Harvard University nutritionist by the name of Mark Hegsted set out to investigate the purported health benefits of milk. Born on a small farm in rural Idaho, Hegsted grew up learning about milk’s human benefits. However, soon after he began his research, Hegsted realized that milk was not a staple of most country’s diets. Still, these same people advanced well into old age. In fact, many countries Hegstead researched had much better health outcomes than the U.S.
Hegsted presented his research, which promisingly gained some traction in the years that followed. In 1978, Hegsted was appointed as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “administrator of human nutrition,” a position created by the U.S government for him.
Hegsted published guidelines that promoted “boosting consumption of vegetables and whole grains while moderating consumption of sugar and animal fats – including fats from dairy products.” The dairy industry, predictably, was none-too-pleased and pressured the USDA to reverse the guidelines.
Following Ronald Reagan’s election in 1981, Hegsted’s position was eliminated. Americans continued to consume milk in high quantities.
What the Science Says:
Dr. Walter Willet, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University’s T.H Chan School of Public Health states:
“Essentially, I think that adults do not need 1,200 mg of calcium a day. The World Health Organization’s recommendation of 500 mg is probably about right. The United Kingdom sets the goal at 700 mg, which is fine too. It allows for a little leeway.”
Adequate consumption of calcium is vital to human health. Of course, “Ca” helps develop and maintain bone strength, but it also aids the proper functioning of our skeletal muscles and organs. But why the excessive recommendations from the government? The most likely answer: money.
Multiple studies conducted over the past 20-plus years discredited various USDA and dairy industry claims regarding adequate milk and dairy consumption. Both parties have exacerbated milk’s effect on healthy bones, including in the prevention of various acute and chronic bone disorders, along with other injuries and illnesses. Perhaps more disturbing is their suppression of science that proves the potentially harmful effects of milk and dairy.
For example, some studies have linked milk consumption to higher rates of mortality. In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers conclude: “High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and another cohort of men.”
(Anyone else thinking about Japan? A country with one of the world’s longest life expectancies – and a population that consumes virtually no dairy?)
How Unhealthy Is Milk?
First, it’s essential to understand that we are referring to pasteurized, adulterated milk and not raw milk. The latter’s a healthier alternative, which we will discuss in another article.
Consider some of the chemicals found from cow and goat milk; some of which are medications, and others are hormones and drugs:
- Sex hormones (17-beta-estradiol)
- Anti-fungal drugs (triclosan)
- Steroid hormones (17-alpha-ethinylestradiol)
- Anti-malaria drugs (pyrimethamine)
- Anti-inflammatories (various)
- Antibiotics (florfenicol)
Sex and steroid hormones? Medications? Drugs?
You probably didn’t plan to put that into your body when you ate that bowl of cereal or glass of 2%. Did you?And that’s not all.
Farms routinely inject cows with growth hormones.
If you’re even remotely aware of the controversy surrounding athletes and human growth hormones (HGH), you know that such actions are both unhealthy and highly unethical.
(Ironically, a Congressional panel intervened during the Major-League Baseball HGH scandal, chiding the organization via a 10-page letter their collective “disappointment and frustration” to then-commissioner Bud Selig.) Some food for thought.
No matter if the subject is human or bovine, growth hormones are harmful substances that alter complex biological mechanisms. One bovine growth hormone (BGH), rBGH, “can produce as much as 15-25 percent more milk.” Of course, this comes at the ultimate expense of your health.
Here are some other commonly used substances – and their (validated) ill effects on human health:
– IFG-1, a hormone “which promotes cancer tumors, (and) have been incriminated as major causes of breast, colon, and prostate cancers.”
– Somatic cell counts (SCC’s) are higher in hormone-treated cow milk. The milk is likely to contain pus and other bacterial traces, affecting the product’s taste, smell, texture, and color.
Final Thoughts on Drinking Milk…or Not:
We all heard the slick advertising growing up, extolling the virtues of milk. As research unravels these misconceptions, make the decisions that make the most sense for you nutritionally. If drinking milk does not bother you, it does contain great amounts of calcium and is enriched with Vitamin D. However, if you have a dairy sensitivity, this research suggests a clue as to why.