'I no longer recommend dairy products...there was a time when cow's milk was considered very desirable. But research along with clinical experience has forced doctors and nutritionists to rethink this recommendation.' --Dr. Benjamin Spock

Over the years, there have been many conflicting stories in the news, in scientific journals and from nutritionists regarding dairy products, and it is often difficult for people to decide quite what to believe about them. However, there has been much research to-date concerning dairy products which has shown dairy products in a very unfavourable light. In this article, I will attempt to overview some of this recent research, and also uncover the main problems with dairy product consumption.

According to Dr. Julian Whitaker in his Health & Healing newsletter in an article entitled 'Tomorrow's Medicine Today' (October 1998 Vol. 8, No. 10) the notion that milk is healthy for you is 'udder' nonsense. While eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains has been documented to lower the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and cancer, the widely touted health benefits of dairy products are questionable at best. In fact, dairy products are clearly linked as a cause of osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity, cancer, allergies and diabetes. He argues that dairy products are anything but 'health' foods.

Those who advocate milk consumption do so, not on the basis of its supposed macronutrients, but because of its supposed micronutrients: calcium and supplemental vitamin D. However, other more healthful sources of calcium and vitamin D are available. More importantly, calcium balance involves far more than calcium intake. Dietary changes that reduce calcium losses are probably much more important for us.


Many people think that cow's milk builds strong bones and teeth, and that it is essential for good health due to the calcium content, however, this is not the case. The calcium in cow's milk is pasteurised and therefore inorganic which means that it is largely unusable to the human body. The only type of milk which is fit food for humans (in particular baby humans of course) is the milk of our own species. Cow's milk is designed to build a small calf into a cow which is often why children on cow's milk grow big so quickly. Cow's milk is for calves, and goat's milk is for kids - not human kids but kids of the goat variety!

From the age of about three years, humans in nature would no longer require the enzymes to break down the milk sugar or milk protein (lactose or casein) in milk, as their weaning period normally comes to an end at about this time. Therefore, from around that age many children no longer secrete those enzymes (lactase and rennin), and they become what's referred to as 'lactose intolerant'. Many people around the world have known allergies to milk and milk products and are unable to digest such substances. In particular, many, many black and Chinese people are known to be unable to consume milk products due to such intolerances.

We do, of course, need a good supply of calcium in our diet, and there are many sources of calcium which are far more beneficial than that of animal milk, without all the dangers to human health. Good non-dairy sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, figs, raw nuts (especially almonds) and seeds. In fact all vegetables contain calcium and so do many fruits. Nevertheless, the amount of calcium you need to consume will decrease when you eliminate salt and animal protein from your diet. Regular exercise and adequate vitamin D (from light and the sun) are also important factors.


Cow's milk is notoriously the most mucus-forming food we can consume. Casein, the protein component in milk, is a very thick and coarse substance and is used to make one of the strongest glues known to man. There is 300 per cent more casein in cow's milk than in human milk. The casein in cow's milk can clog and irritate the body's entire respiratory system. Dairy products are implicated in almost all respiratory problems. Hay fever, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, colds, runny noses and ear infections can all be caused by the consumption of dairy products. Dairy products are also the leading cause of allergies.

Excess Protein Causes Calcium-Deficiency

In 1930, the first study was published that showed that, in humans, a diet with a high meat content caused the loss of large amounts of calcium and a negative calcium balance. Eskimos consume one of the highest protein diets in the world, and they also have one of the highest incidences of osteoporosis in the world. They are already stooped over in their mid-twenties. The incidence of osteoporosis is lowest in the countries where the least amount of dairy products are consumed, and where protein consumption is highest, osteoporosis is most common. It has been shown clearly that when calcium is lost from the bones, which is often caused by excess protein in the diet, it is not just eliminated from the body. This calcium in the body is picked up by the blood and deposited in the soft tissues - the blood vessels, skin, eyes, joints and internal organs. Excess calcium combines with fats and cholesterol in the blood vessels to cause hardening of the arteries, the excess which ends up in the skin causes wrinkles; in the joints calcium crystallises and forms very painful arthritic deposits; in the eyes it takes the form of cataracts and in the kidneys it forms hard deposits known as kidney stones.

The calcium-depleting effects of proteins are not lessened, even when large doses of calcium are ingested. What must be remembered is that calcium is found in all foods grown in the ground and that they supply a sufficient amount of calcium to meet the requirements of both growing children and adults. Animals consume the plants and absorb the calcium - THAT'S WHERE THE COW GETS CALCIUM!


Whilst there is iron in milk, only 5-10 per cent of it is available to the body and infants fed on cow's milk can suffer iron deficiency anaemia (Paediatrics, Volume 75, 1985, pp. 182). In fact, dairy milk has a harmful calcium/magnesium balance and high intakes of calcium depress calcitriol formation (a hormone produced in the body as a result of vitamin D absorption).

Conversely, the massive amount of dairy products that pregnant women are routinely brain-washed into consuming is the reason why huge amounts of excess mucus coat infant's lungs and prevent them from developing properly. Ever wondered why it's necessary to have a suction tube at every birth to suck the thick mucus from the infant's throat and nose immediately upon delivery so it can breath? The January 1960 issue of the Lancet identifies the substance 'muco-protein' in the lungs of infants who die of respiratory disease syndrome. This protein is precisely what develops in the body when dairy products are consumed and this substance coats the lungs of infants. It follows that the respiratory disorders in young children and babies are often caused by dairy products.

From their extensive research, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond conclude that dairy products aggravate ulcers, contribute to colitis, colon and prostate cancer, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), etc. They argue that the list of ailments that can be linked to dairy products is so extensive there is hardly a problem it doesn't at least contribute to. Further, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine argues that dairy products are not required in the human diet. The main caloric constituents of dairy products are animal fat, animal protein, and lactose, none of which are required in the human diet. They argue that lactose maldigestion is biologically normal for adults of all mammalian species, and is common in most human populations. The potential health risks of the products of lactose digestion, particularly the role of lactose in the aetiology of cataracts and ovarian problems, are an area of ongoing research.


Recent research into cancer of the ovaries has established a connection between animal fat and cancer. The PCRM say that there was a significant trend towards the increasing risk of ovarian cancer with increasing animal fat consumption and one study found that women who consume the most animal fat in their diet run double the risk of contracting ovarian cancer when compared to those who consume the least. In a recent article published by the PCRM, Saroja Koneswaran M.D. and Gowri Koneswaran argue that dairy products have been linked to breast cancer. Apparently, the hormone oestrogen increases the risk and milk is filled with the oestrogen of the mother cow who produced it.

Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis

One book that presents a most convincing and thorough indictment of dairy products is Don't Drink the Milk by Oski and Bell. Included in the host of diseases and maladies which the authors attribute at least in part to dairy products are Lou Gehrig's disease and multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is most frequently found in areas of the world where children are raised on dairy products, rather than breast milk. Many doctors and alternative practitioners are now helping MS victims by putting them onto a low-fat vegetarian diet, with some amazing results.

More recently, studies have shown links between drinking cow's milk and both juvenile diabetes and multiple sclerosis in Canada. In an article entitled 'Researchers Link Cow's Milk to Juvenile Diabetes and MS' it was reported that drinking cow's milk may be a risk factor for multiple sclerosis as well as juvenile diabetes, two diseases Canadian researchers have discovered as being remarkably similar. Dr. Michael Dosch, Senior Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto said he and other researchers suspect that infants who are genetically predisposed to diabetes are at greater risk of getting the disease if they are given formula - which is usually based on cow's milk - before they are three months old. The researchers aren't sure of which age the drinking of cow's milk has an impact on multiple sclerosis, however, they do know that both MS patients and diabetics in recent tests shared an abnormal immune-system response to cow's milk. In both diseases, scientists believe there are long, silent years before any symptoms appear. It is estimated that about 30 in 100,000 Canadians get juvenile diabetes every year, while five in 100,000 get MS each year.

The PCRM state that 40 million American women suffer from the effects of bone disease. In their research, they refer to a Harvard study of 78,000 nurses who drank three or more glasses of milk per day and still did not reduce fractures at all. An Australian study showed the same thing. They also quote a study from the Journal of Epidemiology, a case-controlled study of risk factors for hip fractures in the elderly. The study concludes: 'Consumption of dairy products, particularly at age 20 years, were associated with an increased risk of hip fractures.' The Australian study provides the mechanism for such a high correlation. The authors explain that the metabolism of dietary protein causes increased urinary excretion of calcium.

A study published in the January, 2001 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the diets of 1,035 women, particularly focusing on the protein intake from animal and vegetable products. Deborah Sellmeyer, M.D., found that animal protein increases bone loss. In her study, women with a high animal-to-vegetable protein ratio experienced an increased rate of femoral neck bone loss. A high animal-to-vegetable protein ratio was also associated with an increased risk of hip fracture. She also found that meat-eaters have more hip fractures. Sellmeyer's remarkable publication reveals: 'Women with high animal-to-vegetable protein rations were heavier and had higher intake of total protein. These women had a significantly increased rate of bone loss than those who ate just vegetable protein. Women consuming higher rates of animal protein had higher rates of bone loss and hip fracture by a factor of four times.' Incidentally, milk has been called 'liquid meat.' The average American eats five ounces of animal protein each day in the form of red meat and chicken. At the same time, the average American consumes nearly six times that amount (29.2 ounces) per day of milk and dairy products. How ironic it is that the dairy industry continues to promote the 'cause' of bone disease as the cure!

In only two generations, the rate of hip fractures in the U.S. has quadrupled, and it is currently one of the highest rates in the world. Americans are also near the top of the chart for dairy consumption. Would someone out there please tell me why we keep telling our children that dairy foods strengthen their bones? Excess protein intake - not only from milk but all animal protein sources increases the need for calcium to neutralize acidic protein breakdown products, destroying bone in the process. A lifetime of a high-protein diet usually eats away at your bones. Lower protein vegetarian diets are associated with significantly higher bone mineral density...' Dr Julian Whitaker

Non-fat Milk

Milk has also been clearly linked as a cause of heart disease, obesity and other health problems, and is anything but a health food. The association with heart disease is particularly strong. While we've known for a long time that high-fat dairy products such as whole milk and cheese are significant contributors to high cholesterol levels and heart disease, William B. Grant, Ph.D., summarises the mounting evidence that non-fat milk is also a major player in bringing on heart disease. In his study, Dr Grant, writing in Alternative Medicine Review, points out that non-fat milk, which contains substantial amounts of dairy protein, is also very low in B vitamins. The metabolism of all the protein in milk and the absence of B vitamins contributes to the build-up of homocysteine, a marker for heart disease.

Our Children's Needs

Human breast milk is very different in consistency to that of cow's milk, which is intentionally produced for a calf in order for it to grow into a big strong cow. Cow's milk fed babies are more likely to develop infant diabetes, respiratory diseases including asthma, SID's, etc. The protein and fat content of cow's milk is higher, and the carbohydrate content is lower in cow's milk, making it particularly unsuitable for humans. Indeed, human milk contains much more of the important amino acids: Cystine and tryptophan which render it much more suitable to the needs of a human infant. Cow's milk is deficient in iodine, iron, phosphorous and manganese (and pasteurised cow's milk contains largely unusable calcium due to it's being cooked and therefore inorganic). A human mother's breast milk is normally exactly right for her child, containing the exact nutrients her child needs.

Dr Whitaker argues that there are three reasons kids and milk don't mix. First, milk is the leading cause of iron-deficiency anaemia in infants, and, in fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics now discourages giving children milk before their first birthday. Second, it has been shown that milk consumption in childhood contributes to the development of Type-I diabetes. Certain proteins in milk resemble molecules on the beta cells of the pancreas that secrete insulin. In some cases, the immune system makes antibodies to the milk protein that mistakenly attack and destroy the beta cells.

Milk allergies are very common in children and cause sinus problems, diarrhea, constipation and fatigue. They are a leading cause of the chronic ear infections that plague up to 40 per cent of all children under the age of six. Milk allergies are also linked to behavior problems in children and to the disturbing rise of childhood asthma. (Milk allergies are equally common in adults and produce similar symptoms.) Even Dr Benjamin Spock changed his recommendations in his later years and discouraged giving children milk.

Indeed, Professor E. V. McCollum stressed the fact that cow's milk is not an essential in the diet of man and pointed out that the inhabitants of Southern Asia never drink milk and that they have exceptionally well-developed physiques, and exceptional endurance and work capacity. They escape skeletal defects in childhood and have the finest teeth of any people in the world. Their diet is made up of rice, soya beans, sweet potatoes, bamboo sprouts and other vegetables. This is a sharp and favourable contrast with milk-drinking peoples.

So What does Milk Contain?

Ninety percent of the dioxins entering the human body come from dairy products and meat, according to the World Health Organization.

As if milk weren't bad enough already, the chemical giant, Monsanto Company, and the FDA have made it far worse. In 1994 the FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), a genetically engineered hormone from Monsanto that increases milk production in cows by 10-25 per cent. Milk from cows treated with rbST contains elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), one of the most powerful growth factors ever identified. IGF-I occurs naturally in both cows and humans and, in a fluke of nature, is identical between these two species. While IGF-I doesn't cause cancer, it definitely stimulates its growth. Recent studies have found a seven-fold increase in the risk of breast cancer in women with the highest IGF-I levels, and a four-fold increase in prostate cancer in men with the highest levels. Not only does rbST elevate your exposure to these growth factors, it also increases infections of the cow's udders. Therefore, cows treated with rbST are given more antibiotics, so higher traces of these drugs, as well as pus and bacteria from infected udders, are found in their milk.

I'd say it was high time we were all weaned from cow's milk!

'I sometimes challenge milk drinkers by asking them if they would like a glass of milk containing 1,000 PUS CELLS. The average 12 ounce glass of milk in America contains 112,899,408 PUSCELLS.' Robert Cohen (Author of Milk:The Deadly Poison)

Dr Gina Shaw is a health and nutrition consultant and has a healing retreat. You can find out more about her work by visiting her website. Alternatively, you can contact her by email at:

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