Don’t Cry Over Hyped Milk

I know going after milk is foolish and similar to questioning a sacred cow. But, when the weight of evidence compels the New England Journal of Medicine to opine on this matter it is time to listen. Yet, the goodness of milk is so entrenched in our society that merely reading about the evidence that recommends de-throning milk from its pedestal is not going to be enough to convince the faithful. I will never forget reporters interviewing young mothers in the streets of Salt Lake City after a landmark article on milk appeared in the Journal Pediatrics. Despite the evidence that refuted the claims of the dairy industry that milk strengthens bones [1], mothers pledged their undying belief in milk; they pledged to continue giving it to their children and damn the infidels who dared attack their Holy nutrient. So, let me get out of the way to only provide the quotes from the NEJM and other reputable journals: The 2010 Dietary Guidelines — The Best Recipe for Health? NEJM 2011;365:1563 The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines were issued earlier this year, though they received little notice in the press. The lack of attention is troubling in a country in the throes of a nutritional crisis manifested most conspicuously in the form of an obesity epidemic that threatens to reverse recent gains in life expectancy. The guidelines’ development was carefully watched by agro-industrial interests that stand to gain or lose from their implementation. Unfortunately, several components of the new guidelines lack scientific foundation and hinder progress. The 35% limit on calories from fat, which remains embedded deep within the document, may inadvertently undermine the quality of federally funded nutrition programs…. However, [the fat-obesity] relationship has since been refuted in many well-controlled, prospective, observational studies and clinical trials that show little independent effect of dietary fat on body weight. Nevertheless, the diets of millions of Americans who participate in school-lunch and nutrition-assistance programs remain loaded with refined carbohydrates in an effort to reduce fat as a proportion of total calories, whereas the focus should be on replacing trans and saturated fats with healthier fat. The guidelines continue to recommend three daily servings of dairy products, despite a lack of evidence that dairy intake protects against bone fractures1 and probable or possible links to prostate and ovarian cancers. In addition, the recommendation to consume large amounts of dairy products follows from IOM-inspired goals for nutrient intake that may be fundamentally flawed. For example, the calcium DRI is based on measurements of calcium intake and losses in feces and urine over periods of less than 14 days, which probably don’t reflect bones’ long-term calcium content.High milk consumption has consistently not been associated with lower risk of fractures in large prospective studies, whereas increased risks of advanced or fatal prostate cancer have been observed in many studies.” Am J. Preventive Medicine 2005;29:320 & British J. Nutrition 2006;95:539 There are many other studies questioning the dairy industry’s claim that “milk does a body good.” But, it is futile to include them herein. If you are in love with milk and you believe in the “white-washed” propaganda, you will not be convinced no matter what you read.

[1] “Calcium, dairy products, and bone health in children and young adults,” J. Pediatrics 2005;115:736
  1. Anonymous Reply

    Are there no nutritional benefits to milk? Is the calcium or some other component of milk the cause of increased cancer risk? Are all forms of milk equally bad for you (whole, 2%, skim)? I would definitely prefer more information than what I found in this article to make a decision on having dairy products in my diet. I also think that parents will think that milk is going to be better than soda for the kids which can lead to the apparent sacredness of milk. Would soda be a preferred beverage to milk or is water the only acceptable beverage for a healthy diet?

  2. Anonymous Reply

    Ah yes, the old, "Milk does a body good routine"! The problem with having to many so called, "sacred cows" is that now, a whole herd has to be fought off. I grow so weary of hearing about how big corporations are not willing to be honest with their consumers. I'm reminded of the most POWERFUL VOTE that we all have… And, that is the VOTE of our own WALLETS!

    C. Hunter

  3. Hugo Rodier Reply

    Thank you for your questions about milk. You'll find my answers to your questions at my blog post "Answers to Questions About Milk."

    http://hugo.ourhealthcoop.com/2012/01/answers-to-questions-about-milk-article.html

    Kind regards,
    Dr. Hugo Rodier

  4. Trisha Morton Reply

    I read both of your recent milk articles and still have a question for you. Pediatricians are constantly telling us moms to feed milk to our kids. From the time they wean off breastmilk or formula at around 1 year, we are encouraged to switch to whole milk (4% fat) and to continue to supplement their diet until 2years of age at which time milk is still considered essential – but "ok" to switch to 2%, 1% or fat free. I have been told the reasoning is not just the calcium but also the fat, protein and sugars are a necessary part of toddlers' diets. What should they have instead? Just watered juice or water as suggested for adults? Many children still have a hard time transitioning to solid foods during this time to fulfill all of their nutritional needs. I have a 2 month old, 2 year old, 5 year old and 8 year old. The older 3 are all "milk" babies and still consume fairly large quantities each day, about 10-20 oz each. I'd like to start out right with our baby and correct this in our whole family as part of a new approach to healthier family and healthier gut. Any suggestions to read up on this? I'm just starting on this new road.

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