Doctor's Note

For more context, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer and DietSkim Milk and AcneStool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, and  Soy and breast cancer: an update.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=68603457 Julie Sardegna

    Wow.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Please let me know if any questions arise.

      • Cb

        Does plain non-fat GREEK “chobani” yogurt contain estrogen, although it may be absent of fat?

  • Eric Needs

    absolutely fantastic. send this to time magazine, they seem to having some issues understanding all of this.

  • blrobbins9

    Is organic milk any better?

    • Toxins

      Essentially, milk is used to grow a baby animal and when they are past this point, to cause growth can only be harmful. This is what milk does, milk is a heavy promoter of insulin like growth factor which is at high levels when your a child, but significantly tapers off as an adult. Increasing IGF-1 results in accelerated aging and the promotion of tumor growth.
      Furthermore, as Dr. McDougall puts it “The primary biologic purpose of cow’s milk is to cause growth—from a 60 pound calf to a 600 pound cow in less than 8 months. This “miracle-grow” fluid has several qualities that help accomplish this feat. Cow’s milk is 50% fat, providing 600 “growth-supporting” calories per quart. Cow’s milk also has high concentrations of protein, potassium, sodium, calcium, and other nutrients to sustain rapid growth. (In comparison, these nutrients are at a three to four times lower concentration in human milk than cow’s milk)” http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/mar/dairy.htm

      So it is quite unnatural to drink milk anyway, regardless of whether it is organic or not. In addition, beef and dairy is the only natural source of trans fat http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/good-great-bad-killer-fats/ which is recommended a daily value at 0. Milk also binds up phytonutrients http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/nutrient-blocking-effects-of-dairy/ which is definitely not helpful! Plus, calcium from plants is much more easily used than that of dairy calcium http://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-vs-cow-calcium-2/

      I prefer to consider dairy as basically junk food, because it brings about a lot of damage to ones body with no benefit.

  • WKing

    What about Raw Milk?

    I know the general arguments against milk as ‘Toxin’ cites above, personally I am a vegan, but what is the actual research on Raw milk vs pasteurized milk. I work in the area of local food and farmers markets and I am exposed to vegetarians and omnivores that are big boosters for raw milk. With so much propaganda and misinformation being flung from both the sides of the raw vs. pasteurized milk its hard to make sense of it all. What does the research say? I find it hard to believe that raw milk is the super food a lot of people claim it is.

    • Toxins

      Milk is milk is milk! Whether it be raw or pasteurized, the same nutrients exist. Pasteurization by dictionary definition is a process of heating a food, usually liquid, to a specific temperature for a definite length of time, and then cooling it immediately. This process slows microbial growth in food. The same harmful affects of milk still remain

      A review published in the Journal of Pediatrics focused on the benefits of dairy “the findings of epidemiologic and prospective studies have raised questions about the efficacy of the use of dairy products for the promotion of bone health. ” after a review of the existing literature and finding “A positive relationship between dairy product consumption and measures of bone health in children or young adults was reported in 1 of 4 cross-sectional studies; in 0 of 3 retrospective studies; in 0 of 1 prospective study; and in 2 of 3 randomized, controlled trials. Only 1 of these randomized clinical trials adequately controlled for vitamin D intake, and it showed no significant effect of dairy products on BMD [bone mineral density]” , they concluded, “Scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk or other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralization.”
      http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/115/3/736.long

      A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal found, “The small effect of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density in the upper limb is unlikely to reduce the risk of fracture, either in childhood or later life, to a degree of major public health importance.”and “The authors concluded that the literature did not support recommendations for consumption of dairy products for bone health end points in children and young adults…Our quantitative systematic review confirms this conclusion” The authors also state, “Our results also do not support the premise that any type of calcium supplementation is more effective than another.” Even studies that used intakes of 1400 mg per day of calcium showed no benefit.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1602024/?tool=pubmed

      An editorial accompanying this meta-analysis pointed out, “Populations that consume the most cow’s milk and other dairy products have among the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip fracture in later life. Given this fact, it is important to ask whether sufficient evidence exists to continue assuming that consumption of these foods is part of the solution.” They concluded “It is time to revise our calcium recommendations for young people and change our assumptions about the role of calcium, milk, and other dairy products in the bone health of children and adolescents. While the policy experts work on revising recommendations, doctors and other health professionals should encourage children to spend time in active play or sports, and to consume a nutritious diet built from whole foods from plant sources to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and provide an environment conducive to building strong bones.”
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1602030/

      A review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition of the research on the effects of dairy products on bone health found 57 studies, and of these, 21 studies were considered to have stronger-evidence, worthy of inclusion in this review. “Of 21 stronger-evidence studies, 57% were not significant, 29% were favorable, and 14% were unfavorable.” Keep in mind that the majority of these studies were funded by the dairy industry, and even with this natural bias and influence to produce positive outcomes, no better than 29% of the studies were favorable to bone health. One of the studies that showed unfavorable results that was funded by the dairy industry showed some shocking outcomes. The findings showed post menopause subjects who received the extra milk (three 8 ounce glasses of skimmed milk daily) for a year lost more bone than those who didn’t drink the extra milk. The authors wrote, “The protein content of the milk supplement may have a negative effect on calcium balance, possibly through an increase in kidney losses of calcium or through a direct effect on bone resorption…this may have been due to the average 30 percent increase in protein intake during milk supplementation.” Skim milk is very high in protein so this is unavoidable unless one is to consume the very fatty whole milk in which 2-5% of the fat content is trans fat and is very high in saturated fat.
      http://www.ajcn.org/content/72/3/681.long
      http://www.ajcn.org/content/41/2/254.long

      Its evidence such as this that I am unconvinced calcium should be from cows milk. Long term studies on vegan bone density comparing the omnivores diet showed the same bone density “…although vegans have much lower intakes of dietary calcium and protein than omnivores, veganism does not have an adverse effect on bone mineral density and does not alter body composition.” The vegan participants had been on a vegan diet an average of 33 years.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19350341

      I find it interesting that modern society believes that the human species is dependent on the milk of another animal species. The primary biologic purpose of cow’s milk is to grow a 60 pound calf to a 600 pound cow in less than 8 months. This is no way natural to humans as cow’s milk has high concentrations of protein, potassium, sodium, calcium, and other nutrients to sustain rapid growth. In comparison, these nutrients are at a three to four times lower concentration in human milk than cow’s milk. Milk is used to promote growth, so how is this natural as human adults to be consuming milk, let alone another species of animals milk? Dairy is a heavy promoter of insulin like growth factor in adults. This spike in IGF-1 is the most likely source of positive bone growth in the studies showing favorable outcomes of dairy on bones, not necessarily the calcium. Elevated IGF-1 does more harm than good in adults, it heavily promotes tumor growth in breast, prostate, lung, and colon cells and accelerates the aging process.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12417786
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16168602

      The consumption of dairy in children has resulted in earlier puberty. “The effect of animal protein intake, which was associated with an earlier puberty onset, might mainly be due to dairy. “An earlier puberty onset has been related to an increased risk for hormone-related cancers in adulthood. For example, a meta-analysis of 26 epidemiological studies reported a 9% risk reduction for breast cancer with every additional year at menarche. Additionally, recent study results demonstrated that a 1-y delay in menarche was associated with a 2.4 to 4.5% lower total mortality.
      http://jn.nutrition.org/content/140/3/565.long

      The concern with dairy and hormone dependent cancer is something to think about as well. It has been shown that consuming dairy significantly increases circulating steroid hormones in woman and that vegetarians have far less of this hormone. “In conclusion, greater consumption of red meat and dairy products might influence circulating concentrations of SHBG and estradiol, respectively. Given the well-established role of steroid hormones in breast cancer etiology for postmenopausal women, these findings may have important health implications” Tumor growth from these hormone imbalances is also evident “A dramatic increase in estrogen-dependent malignant diseases, such as ovarian, corpus uteri, breast, testicular and prostate cancers has been recognized. Ganmaa et al. investigated the incidence and mortality of testicular and prostate cancers in relation to dietary practices. Among various food items, cow’s milk and cheese had the highest correlation with incidence and mortality rate of these cancers” Children are at high risk “Among the exposure of humans, especially prepubertal children, to exogenous estrogens, we are particularly concerned with” These xenoestrogens from lactating preganant cattle (the majority of commercial cattle used for milk) significantly raised estrogen levels in male adults and reduced testosterone levels and did even more so in children. This is significant since these estrogens have mutagenic affects “Toxicological and epidemiological studies have indicated that E2 could be categorized as a carcinogen. Milk is considered to be a rich source of estrogens. Indeed, E2 concentration is higher in mammary drainage than in the peripheral circulation in high yielding cows.”
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20211044
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19904296
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19496976

      This is only some of the evidence I have seen gathered by Dr. McDougall and Dr. Greger, there are much more harms to be found, but this is just a snippet.

      • WKing

        I understand and familiar with a majority of what you have posted however the milk is milk is milk line does not work when discussing issues with people who don’t believe milk is milk is milk. When I have tried to bring up some of the information you cite the response is that those studies were done on pasteurized milk and not fresh raw milk which they allege is different and that the pasteurization process alters the nutritional quality of milk.

        • Toxins

          Have them present scientific research that raw milk is better than pasteurized, and if it is, have them prove that it does not have the same harmful affects that milk does. The burden of proof is upon them, not you. If they present studies to you please post them here so we can judge them ourselves.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      There was a systematic review published in November that looked at some of the claims of raw milk advocates. They researchers basically concluded that the impact of pasteurization on the nutritive value of milk appears to be minimal. The greater issue is that of infectious disease (the reason it’s illegal in most states). Advocates argue that consuming raw milk is a matter of personal choice, but not when they go on to infect others. For example, in a raw milk outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 that hospitalized a number of children in Connecticut, in one household one kid who consumed raw milk infected a sibling who didn’t, who then infected a third. For those who are interested there are a number of recent commentaries on the dangers (here and here for example). Before pasteurization and the virtual elimination of bovine tuberculosis, hundreds of thousands of Americans died as a result of TB-infected milk. Let’s not go back to that era.

      Pasteurized or not, organic or not, there continue to be public health concerns about the hormones present in all milk (particularly skim). See, for example, my videos Dairy Hormonal Interference and Acne & Cancer Connection.

      • Toxins

        Thanks for the valuable information Dr. Greger!

  • eagleraych

    I have a question that arose when you mentioned how societies with no dairy consumption have virtually no acne. I stopped consuming dairy almost a year ago (and took myself off of ProActive face wash around the same time when I realized how bad benzyl peroxide is!). I have been eating vegan for the entire year, with little to no processed foods, added sugars, etc. That being said, I still have some acne that will not go away. What other factors could affect it?

    Thank you!

    • http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com/ Harriet Sugar Miller

      Have you tried applying green tea compresses after a hot shower? That really helped my adolescent son. Just brew some tea, then dip some cotton into it and apply it warm or cold–regularly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=6829731 Grace Weimin Blocher

    Thank you for this informative video.  How about organic milk?  Are they any better?  Thanks!

    • Toxins

       Organic and conventional milk is nutritionally identical. There are very few differences and the hormones in milk still exist. The issue is not contaminant levels but the actual milk substance itself. Therefore, it shouldn’t matter whether it be organic or not. Check out this other video on milk and its ill effects.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/dairy-sexual-precocity/

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Breast Cancer and Diet!

  • Ash

    What of plain yogurt and kefir?

  • Anthea

    Rather scary. I do wonder why humans first started drinking milk. Why we are the only mammals that continue to drink milk after the baby stage? Cancer is rampant in our society and meantime, our big dairy and meat earners are flourishing!.

    • Padma Garvey

      The history of dairy production is very interesting. Dairy farming probably started about 8000 years ago. Back then it was helpful in getting us through harsh winters, bad wheat yields, etc. I think perspective on how humans have eaten over the course of the past 160,000 years is helpful. In today’s world, with 7 billion people on earth, animal milk consumption is detrimental to our health, our planet, and deprives people of food in impoverished areas.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      I agree with Dr. Garvey’s point. I would add that another driving factor is effects of the narcotic like substances aka casomorphins which are metabolites generated from the digestion of casein the major protein in dairy. Cheese cravers… 20% of cheese market eating cheese straight from packages every day and Cheese enhancers… 20% of cheese market putting cheese on alot of their food are actually addicted. We are seeing dairy consumption in this country decline unfortunately dairy farmers are going out of business. In Finland they recognized that a large part of the cardiovascular disease problem was due to their high dairy consumption. They did an innovative pilot in one part of their country converting dairy farmers to berry farmers with some other innovations and noticed a decline in rates of cardiovascular rates. They have since expanded the program nationally with government support to the farmers. In this country we subsidize dairy farmers to keep them producing a product which harms our health instead of supporting a transition to other more healthy products. Of course if the subsidies were removed the costs would go up dramatically and our consumption would drop and health improve.

  • tavit

    noooo! why I didn’t know that when I was 10 I drank milk like crazy. At least it was whole milk. Now I’m 20 and I just split my skin milk down the drain. Now I guess I gonna watch the rest of the videos on this site.

    • Toxins

      If interested, her is a concise review of dairy with hyperlinked text.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/

    • http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com/ Harriet Sugar Miller

      Don’t fret, tavit. Just load up on foods that inhibit mTOR signaling: green tea, curcumin, resveratrol, crucifers, and yes, soy and caffeine (ok, not too much soy and not too much caffeine).

  • mslyonz

    I recently read that soy milk is ineffective when it comes to weight loss because it is a genetically modified food. Is Almond milk or Organic milk any better?

  • http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com/ Harriet Sugar Miller

    Great piece, just a small correction–maybe. That link to the March 2009 Science News article says that cows are not milked in the two months prior to giving birth. Could you clarify?

  • vanessa

    Hello Doctor. I have a question, why if skim milk seems to have more hormones than “whole” milk, why is it that there has been studies that have found a greater association between whole milk and prostate cancer? Are there any studies that have linked high intake of skim milk to greater risk of getting prostate cancer or other type of cancers? I f so, please do share. thanks.