Milk is Not a Health Food

Milk is Not a Health Food

Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

What do you think when you see movie actors and athletes with a 
white mustache on their lips? Do you think that milk strengthens 
bones? There is little data to support any health benefits from 
drinking milk. I do not drink milk.

Data does not show that milk prevents osteoporosis (1). I have 
quoted several studies that show that osteoporosis is associated far 
more with taking in too much protein than with not getting enough 
calcium in the diet (2). Taking in too much protein causes the body 
to convert protein building blocks called amino acids into organic 
acids that acidify the blood. The kidneys respond by neutralizing 
the blood by taking calcium from bones and pushing it out through 
the urine. A study in the journal Pediatrics shows that a high 
calcium intake does not strengthen bones in teenage girls. Further 
studies show that cow's milk contains cow's insulin that can 
sensitize susceptible infants to cow's insulin forcing the baby to 
make antibodies that attack the cow's insulin and these same 
antibodies attack the beta cells of the pancreas to cause juvenile 
diabetes (3). 

The Doctors Study from Harvard Medical school showed that men who 
drink more than four glasses of milk per day are at higher risk for 
prostate cancer than those who drink less than that. The Harvard 
researchers explain that calcium in milk uses up vitamin D. Even 
though there is added vitamin D in milk, there is not enough 
vitamin D in milk to offset the loss of vitamin D caused by the 
calcium in milk. So people who drink a lot of milk have lower blood 
levels of vitamin D than those who do not drink milk. Lack of 
vitamin D can be a cause of cancer. 

Neal Bernard, president of Physicians Committee for Responsible 
Medicine, believes that milk increases blood levels of a hormone 
called insulin-like-growth-factor-1. Insulin-like -growth factor 
causes cancer cells to spread in a test tube. Men with prostate 
cancer have higher levels of insulin like growth factor-1. 

Drinking milk in moderation is not likely to harm you, but you 
shouldn't let the Dairy Council ads lead you to believe that milk 
has any special health benefits.

1) RL Weinsier, CL Krumdieck. Dairy foods and bone health: 
examination of the evidence. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 
2000, Vol 72, Iss 3, pp 681-689Address Weinsier RL, Univ Alabama, 
Dept Nutr Sci, Birmingham,AL 35294 USA. 

2) Deborah Sellmeyer, an endocrinologist at the university of 
California-San Francisco. She found that women who eat the most 
acidic foods are the ones most likely to suffer osteoporosis. 
(To be published early next year) . 

3) J Paronen, M Knip, E Savilahti, SM Virtanen, J Ilonen, 
HK Akerblom, O Vaarala. Effect of cow's milk exposure and maternal 
type 1 diabetes on cellular and humoral immunization to dietary 
insulin in infants at genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. Diabetes, 
2000, Vol 49, Iss 10, pp 1657-1665Address Paronen J, Natl Publ Hlth 
Inst, Dept Biochem, Mannerheimintie 166, SF-00300 Helsinki, FINLAND. 

Checked 4/17/12