A print advertising campaign promoting cow’s milk shows tennis professionals Venus and Serena Williams with milk mustaches—a ringing endorsement for milk drinking by these two very popular tennis stars. Shame on the Williams sisters.
Was it wise for the Williams sisters to lend their name to promoting cow’s milk? Ironically, this is a beverage/food that most African Americans cannot digest and would suffer bouts of diarrhea, bloating, gas and indigestion should they follow Venus and Serena’s advice to drink it.
Moreover, a growing body of research suggests that drinking cow’s milk can increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. A majority of women think of calcium as the first line of defense against the bone-thinning disease, osteoporosis. Many mainstream doctors, dietitians and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics currently recommend consuming dairy products and calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis.
The hype and misconceptions surrounding dairy products and calcium for bone health have earned milk and dairy products a secure place in the government’s dietary guidelines and the USDA Food Pyramid Guide, which directly encourages dairy product consumption and indirectly promotes calcium pills, which are now the biggest seller in the US dietary supplement industry with annual sales of nearly $1 billion.
A number of studies now call into question the safety of drinking fortified milk and of taking calcium supplements, despite the endorsements of The National Osteoporosis Foundation, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and The National Dairy Council (the leading US dairy industry political lobby group). In truth, it is an established and verifiable fact that no one, including infants, requires cow’s milk for healthy bone growth.
The widely publicized Harvard Nurses’ Study showed that drinking milk does not protect against fractures. This landmark study revealed that drinking milk might actually lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. The study recruited 77,761 women between 34 and 59 years of age in 1980, and followed them for the next 12 years. Women who drank two or more glasses of milk per day experienced a slightly higher risk of arm fracture (5 percent increase) and significantly higher risk of hip fracture (45 percent increase), compared to those who drank little or no milk, even after researchers took into account body weight, menopausal status, smoking, and alcohol use. Results of this study suggest that adults who drink cow’s milk do not enjoy excellent bone health and may increase their risk of bone fractures of the hip and arm.
- The Harvard study findings are consistent with results of other published studies, which show that fracture rates in the US, Scandinavia, and other countries where dairy products are commonly consumed are actually much higher, not lower, than in Asia and other areas where inhabitants rarely consume cow’s milk and dairy products. South African women, on average, consume only 200 mg of calcium per day, yet their rate of fractures is much lower than in US women.
- Bantu women consume between 220-450 mg calcium per day. A typical Bantu woman may give birth to seven to eight children and breastfeed each of them for two years or more. Yet osteoporosis is not prevalent among Bantus, even in women over 65 years of age—a remarkable achievement considering Bantu women never drink cow’s milk.
- Every sip of cow’s milk contains a cocktail composed of dozens of bioactive hormones. Hormones in milk exert powerful biological effects. Each species of mammal has a different formula. Cow’s milk contains its own unique blend of bovine hormones that were never consumed by humans until the advent of animal husbandry approximately 8,000 years ago.
- Human mother’s milk has always been a hormonal delivery system, providing nursing infants with nature’s perfect food for the young of each species. Lactoferrins, immunoglobulins, and hormones in human breast milk provide outstanding nutrition for nursing humans. These beneficial compounds are absent from pasteurized cow’s milk.
- On average, a woman will naturally produce in her lifetime the equivalent of only one tablespoon of estrogen. It takes only a billionth of a gram of estrogen hormone to produce a powerful biological effect. When young girls drink cow’s milk or eat cheese, ice cream, or yogurt, it’s as if they’re swallowing estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin pills.
- Early sexual maturity is unnatural and unhealthy. In the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, 2,291 of the 65,000 participants developed breast cancer. Researchers found that earlier menarche and taller adult height were predictive of elevated breast cancer risk. This study provides evidence that breast cancer risk is influenced by pre-adulthood factors, thus prevention efforts that begin in childhood and adolescence are essential to lifelong breast health. Avoiding cow’s milk could be a prudent protective effort.
- Young girls should not take birth control pills. Young girls typically do not inject steroids and do not require estrogen replacement therapy. Yet these are the compounds they ingest in cow’s milk and dairy products. Girls are born with bodies that are genetically pre-programmed to transform them into women. By consuming cow’s milk and cow’s milk products, little girls can reach puberty before Mother Nature intended.
- A 2012 study comparing the effects of isoflavone-rich soy vs. whey protein found that perimenopausal women who consumed whey protein for 24 weeks experienced a 1.73% loss of lumbar spine bone vs. a +0.62% increase in lumbar spine bone while drinking a soy-based beverage.
The Williams sister’s endorsement notwithstanding, cow’s milk is not nearly as good a source of calcium as other far more digestible foods. Compare the 118 mg calcium/100 grams cow’s milk with calcium in 100 grams of the following foods:
Almonds (254 mg)
Broccoli (130 mg)
Kale (187 mg)
Kelp (1,093 mg)
Sardines (400 mg)
Sesame seeds (1,160 mg)
☆ Disclaimer: This is my informed opinion. I could be wrong. What do you think?