My biggest concern with milk and dairy is the way in which this product is produced. I think everyone is aware that the use of growth hormones in dairy cows is not beneficial to human health. In fact, they have been implicated in increased risk of breast cancer, colon and prostate cancer.
The New York Times article (published March of 2010) called “Honest Food Labels“, talks about how Dr. Margaret Hamburg (Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration) is on a mission to crack down on dishonest food labeling practices (which is great). In a response to the New York Times article, the Cancer Prevention Coalition released a statement that points out she left out 2 industries, specifically the meat and dairy industry.
In their statement, they included some interesting information, here are some of the highlights:
“About 20% of our milk is genetically engineered, technically known as rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone), which contains high levels of a natural growth factor known as IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor one). This survives digestion and is readily absorbed from the small intestine into the blood. Increased levels of IGF-1 have been shown to increase risks of breast cancer in 19 scientific publications, risks of colon cancer in 10 publications, and prostate cancer in 7 publications. Of further concern, increased IGF-1 levels block natural defense mechanisms against early microscopic cancers, known as apoptosis.
Based on these concerns, on June 3, 1999, the United Nations Food Safety Agency, representing 101 nations worldwide, ruled unanimously not to endorse or set safety standards for rBGH milk. Effectively, this has resulted in an international ban on U.S. milk. “
Nothing in these statements gives me the warm and fuzzies about milk products, produced by cows that are given rBGH. There were many scientific studies and articles published in the 1990’s and I think the public really stood up against this practice. My hope is that the use of this growth hormone is going away. But as they state, about 20% of our dairy contains rBGH. So as consumers, how do we know if our milk products contains rBGH? Well. that is exactly the point. Since no labeling is required, we don’t.
If you feel you need to consume milk, you can buy organic milk which is rBGH free. But you should ask yourself, what is your goal of consuming milk products? Calcium? I think we already covered that in a previous post, “got calcium? – is dairy really the best source“. Cows milk is designed to take a baby calf and turn it into a fully grown cow. If that is your goal, maybe milk is for you. If not, ask yourself, what is your goal?
This is not meant to be a bash on milk, but really to look at how we produce ALL our food. You are what you eat and you are what your food eats (or is injected with). When we genetically modify our food (or inject things into it), we are changing it, and if that change has been shown to cause some problems, well, this should be a red flag to us that we should think about whether or not we want to eat that food.