Milk, it does a body good, right?

More Milk, More Fractures, More Disease, and More Premature Death?

In the population study “Milk Intake and Risk of Mortality and Fractures in Women and Men,” researchers following more than 100,000 men and women in Sweden for about 20 years found significantly higher rates of bone and hip fractures, heart disease, cancer, and premature death in general for women who drank more milk. Three glasses a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of dying early. Men with higher milk consumption were also recorded having a higher risk of premature death. 

Harvard researchers then stepped in with three of their cohorts to form a study twice as big to see whether the Swedish findings were just a fluke. After following more than 200,000 men and women for up to three decades, they confirmed the bad news in 2019. Those who consumed more dairy lived significantly shorter lives. Every additional half-serving of regular milk a day was associated with 9 percent increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, 11 percent increased risk of dying from cancer, and an 11 percent increased risk of dying from all causes put together. This is all the more remarkable since milk drinking is typically associated with healthier lifestyles, including more exercise and less smoking and drinking, though the researchers did try to adjust for those factors.

High dairy consumption in general was also associated with dying prematurely, but it matters what you eat instead. A Harvard analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that swapping dairy for red meat, poultry, or fish would not be expected to do your body any favors, and you would be expected to live longer eating dairy rather than eggs or processed meat. It was only when plant-based sources of protein were chosen instead of dairy that the researchers found a significant drop in mortality risk.

Sex Steroid Hormones in Milk

All animal-based foods contain sex steroid hormones, such as estrogen. These hormones naturally found even in organic cow’s milk may play a role in the various associations identified between dairy products and hormone-related conditions, including acne, diminished male reproductive potential, and premature puberty. The hormone content in milk may explain why women who drink it appear to have five times the rate of twin births compared with women who do not drink milk.

Dairy and Cancer

When it comes to cancer, leading experts have expressed concern that the hormones in dairy and other growth factors could potentially stimulate the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors. Experimental evidence also suggests that dairy may also promote the conversion of precancerous lesions or mutated cells into invasive cancers in vitro.

What About Ear Infections?

The association between cow’s milk exposure and recurrent ear infections in susceptible children has been documented for more than 50 years. Though there are rare cases of pathogens in milk directly causing ear infections (then meningitis), the link is thought to be due to milk allergies. In fact, there’s a respiratory disease called Heiner Syndrome, a lung disease of infants primarily caused by milk consumption that can cause ear infections.

Milk Allergies

Though milk allergies most often results in respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin symptoms, as many as 1 in 500 may suffer speech delay due to chronic inner ear inflammation. For decades, it’s been recommended that children with recurrent ear infections try a three-month trial of a strict cow’s milk elimination diet, but the recommendation of Dr. Benjamin Spock, probably the most respected pediatrician of all time, is a life-long elimination of cow’s milk. 

Other Health Concerns

Dairy consumption may also play a role in increased risk of asthma, Parkinson’s disease, and elevated blood pressure, among other health concerns such as recurring canker sores.

For substantiation of any statements of fact from the peer-reviewed medical literature, please see the associated videos below.

352 videos

Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive our Daily Dozen Meal Planning Guide.

Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive our Daily Dozen Meal Planning Guide.

All Videos for Dairy

Pin It on Pinterest