Stop for a moment to think about what milk is and what it was designed for. Milk is the white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It provides the primary source of nutrients for suckling mammals "before their digestive system has matured." As their digestive system matures, they are able to eat and digest more solid foods. So if milk was intended to nourish the young before solid food, why are we still nursing....and then from a cow?
According to the dairy industry, milk "Does a body good," and is "Nature's Most Perfect Food." This would be true however if we were baby calves! Dr. Michael Klaper likes to remind us that cow milk is "baby calf growth fluid." He encourages us to look into a mirror, and if we don't see a tail, four legs, hooves, and a furry body, then we shouldn't be drinking it. Dr. Klaper explains that "The human body has no more need for cow's milk than it does for dog's milk, horse's milk, or giraffe's milk." In fact, Dr. Neal Barnard adds, "After the age of weaning, calves (like all mammals) have no need for milk at all, and there is never a need to drink the milk of another species." This article will demonstrate how the components in milk were intended to nourish young mammals before their digestive system has matured enough to handle solid food, how the growth factors contained in mammalian milk is species specific, and how cow's milk influences the growth of cancer, especially prostate cancer.
Nutritional Needs Vary for Every Mammalian Species
There are over 5,000 species of mammals, each of which consumes the milk provided by its mother. The milk of every mammalian species contains the exact concentrations of nutrients designed to meet the specific growth and development requirements for its young. Consequently, the carbohydrate, protein, fat, potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels are precise and unique, fulfilling the nutritional needs for that particular animal. For example, the milk of rats contains 10 times the protein content of human breast milk. This is because a baby rat doubles in size in 4.5 days, whereas a human infant doubles in size in 6 months. Rats are fully grown at 6 months of age, yet it takes 17 years for a human to fully mature.
According to Dr. John McDougall, our greatest time of growth and need for protein is during the first two years of life when we double in size, yet the percent of calories we receive from protein in human breast milk is only 5%. This is important for us to remember. Cow's milk contains more than twice the amount of protein and much higher concentrations of potassium, sodium, calcium, and other nutrients to sustain rapid growth. This "miracle growth fluid" enables a calf weighing under 100 pounds at birth to quickly grow into a 1,000 pound cow in one year. Since the primary purpose of cow's milk is to promote rapid growth, these nutrients especially calcium, stimulate the growth of bone in both calves as well as humans. This has many advantages for a baby calf, but not for humans.
In comparison, the concentration of these nutrients are "three to four times lower in human milk than cow's milk." Because it takes many years for humans to become fully grown, protein requirements are much lower than that of a baby calf. "The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5% of their calories as protein." Therefore, adults (who have stopped growing) can easily meet their protein needs from whole plant foods. "Rice is 8% protein, corn 11%, oatmeal 15%, and beans 27%. Thus, protein deficiency is impossible when calorie needs are met by eating unprocessed starches and vegetables."
Hormones in Cow's Milk Promotes RAPID GROWTH
In addition to protein and other nutrients that stimulate rapid growth for the calf, cow's milk contains both artificial and natural occurring hormones that increase hormone levels in calves as well as humans. Retail milk contains abnormally high steroid hormones. (Up to a dozen). Buttermilk contains the highest, followed by skim milk. Dr. McDougall says that "Dairy foods account for about 60 to 70% of the estrogen that comes from food. The main source of this estrogen is the modern factory farming practice of continuously milking cows throughout pregnancy. As gestation progresses, the estrogen content of milk increases from 15 pg/ml to 1000 pg/ml." Well-documented consequences of excess estrogen are cancers of the breast, uterus, and prostate.
Many customers purchase organic dairy products in an attempt to avoid added steroid hormones as well as the genetically modified growth hormone rBGH. This hormone forces dairy cows to painfully and unnaturally produce more milk, yielding higher industry profits. Avoiding these added hormones is beneficial, however, organic milk can still contain up to 59 additional naturally occurring hormones. This can include 8 pituitary hormones, 7 hypothalamic hormones, 7 steroid hormones, 6 thyroid hormones, and 11 different growth factors.
The most powerful natural growth hormone is called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Although low levels of this powerful growth-stimulating hormone are naturally present in our blood, consuming animal products increases the level. "Dairy products are the worst offenders of all the foods we eat for raising this cancer-promoter" Dr. McDougall says. "They can easily increase the levels in our bodies by 10%." Conversely, "Vegan men have been found to have a 9% lower level of IGF-1 than men who follow a diet with meat and dairy products." Men who have the highest IGF-1 levels have four times the risk of prostate cancer when compared to those with the lowest levels. The IGF-1 hormones provide desirable accelerated growth for baby calves, yet undesirable growth for humans such in the form of cancer and accelerated aging. "IGF-1 is one of the most powerful promoters of cancer growth ever discovered for cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon. Overstimulation of growth by IGF-1 leads to premature aging too—and reducing IGF-1 levels is "anti-aging." Dr. McDougall has an excellent 9-minute video regarding IGF-1 here.
Based on the above findings, you can see how high concentrations of protein, sodium, fat, minerals, and hormones in cow's milk were intended for a calf to grow quickly. These components are even more concentrated in cheese. Negative effects associated with consuming these high concentrations clearly indicate that cow's milk was not designed for human consumption.
The Components in Cow's Milk Promotes Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men. The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine reports that "Prostate cancer is the fourth most common malignancy among men worldwide, with an estimated 400,000 new cases diagnosed annually. Epidemiologic evidence strongly suggests that dietary factors play a major role in prostate cancer progression and mortality." Prostate cancer used to be considered an "old man's disease," yet due to increasing poor diet and lifestyle habits, men in their 30s and 40s are now being diagnosed. In fact, autopsy studies have found prostate cancer in men in their 20s who died from other causes. Dr. McDougall adds, "As many as 30% of men in their 30's and 40's have prostate cancer." By age 50, this fgure rises to about 40 percent. He goes on to say, "Prostate cancer begins in men in their twenties and steadily increases in incidence as they age until by their seventies, about 80% of men are found to have this cancer. With prostate cancer this common, any excuse to perform a biopsy is likely to find cancer in men over the age of fifty."
It's important for us to remember that non-organic dairy contains both naturally occurring hormones and synthetic ones. Although raw and organic milk don't have added hormones, they can still contain up to 59 growth factors and hormones as well. Because prostate cancer is a hormone-sensitive cancer, men who consume dairy products have significantly higher rates of prostate cancer. Dr. Neal Barnard says that the hormones in dairy "stimulate microscopic prostate cancer cells like fertilizer on weeds." Therefore, cow's milk "promotes the conversion of precancerous lesions or mutated cells to invasive cancer" as well as "enhances the progression" of these of hormone-dependent tumors.
A recent study highlighted by Dr. Michael Greger involved isolating "prostate cancer cells out of the body in a petri dish and dripping cow milk on them directly. They chose organic cow's milk, because they wanted to exclude the effect of added hormones, and just test the effect of all the growth and sex hormones found naturally in all milk. They found that cow's milk stimulated the growth of human prostate cancer cells in each of 14 separate experiments, producing an average increase in cancer growth rate of over 30%. In contrast, almond milk suppressed the growth of these cancer cells by over 30%." Dr. Greger makes it clear that the latest meta-analysis of all the best case control studies ever done as well as cohort studies concludes that "milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer." Newer studies even suggest that milk intake "during adolescence may be particularly risky in terms of potentially setting one up for cancer later in life." For more information regarding dairy and children, see Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book, Disease Proof Your Child.
Studies Linking Dairy to Prostate Cancer
- The latest study published in Cancer Prevention Research in June of 2015 demonstrated that men with prostate cancer that ate a Western-style diet rich in red and processed meat, high-fat dairy, and refined grains had a 2.5 times higher risk of death from prostate cancer. Additionally, their risk of mortality from all causes was 67 percent higher. Conversely, men who ate a diet that emphasized vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains were found to have a "significantly lower all-cause mortality after prostate cancer diagnosis.
- The most powerful of all study was conducted by Dr. T. Colin Campbell when he explored the relationship between nutrition and cancer while conducting a study in the 1980's in rural China called the China Project. Dr. Campbell's findings were published in his book, The China Study. This study observed and identified the essential element which turned on and turned off cancer growth. The element which was found to initiate cancer gene expression was protein from animal sources, especially the protein (casein) from cow's milk. The study concluded that "Casein (the protein in milk) is the most relevant chemical carcinogen" that has ever been identified.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - "Of the 47,896 men in our study population, choline intake was associated with an increased risk of lethal prostate cancer." Choline is found in meat, dairy, and eggs.
- "Major studies suggesting a link between milk and prostate cancer have appeared in medical journals since the 1970s. In 1997, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that dairy products should be considered a possible contributor to prostate cancer. In April 2000, Harvard's Physicians' Health Study followed 20,885 men for 11 years, finding that having two and one-half dairy servings each day boosted prostate cancer risk by 34 percent, compared to having less than one-half serving daily."
- "According to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers tracked data from 21,660 participants in the Physicians Heath Study for 28 years. Men drinking more than 1 glass per day (whole milk) had double the risk for fatal prostate cancer."
- "Two major Harvard studies have shown that milk-drinking men have 30 to 60 percent greater cancer risk than men who generally avoid dairy products."
- "According to a 1997 review published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, at least 11 human population studies have linked dairy product consumption and prostate cancer."
- "In a study of 140,000 men last year, 35 grams of dairy protein increased the risk of developing high grade prostate cancer by 76%, so that's like 2% increased risk for every gram of milk protein. A cup of cottage cheese a day could increase one's risk by about 50%."
- View the studies published in the PCRM's article, Milk Consumption and Prostate Cancer
- "A June 1999 article in the Journal Alternative Medicine Reviews reported that the relationship of prostate cancer worldwide was more strongly related to the consumption of nonfat dairy products than to any other food product. In one recent study, from the Harvard School of Public Health, high consumption of dairy products was associated with a 50% increase in the risk of prostate cancer."
Milk was designed to provide rapid growth and nourishment for young mammals while their digestive systems are still maturing. No other mammalian species consumes milk past the weaning stage, except for humans. Consuming milk past the weaning stage into adulthood is not natural; by doing so, it presents serious health consequences.
The growth components in cow's milk increase hormone levels in both men and women, especially a powerful naturally occurring hormone called IFG-1. This hormone promotes the growth of cancer, especially hormone-dependent cancers such as prostate cancer. Dr. T. Colin Campbell's 20-year China Study demonstrated this fact when their research team witnessed how the protein in dairy (casein) had the ability to "turn on" cancer cells.
Subsequent studies have shown that countries that consume the most dairy have the highest cancer rate mortality. Prostate cancer kills approximately 200,000 men annually worldwide. Death rates are five times higher in the United States than those countries that consume little or no dairy. Prostate cancer is the most asymptomatic cancer; not all men will experience symptoms. Dr. Joel Fuhrman warns us by saying, "The simple fact is that if you are a male and you eat similarly to other Americans, you eventually will get prostate cancer. No one can escape from the biological laws of cause and effect, and the Standard American Diet (SAD) is powerfully cancer-promoting." Avoiding dairy products and eating a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense plant foods is a man's best defense against prostate cancer. Plant foods are loaded with nutrients that offer powerful protection against cancer.