Is Milk Good for Our Bones?

Is Milk Good for Our Bones?
4.55 (91.09%) 128 votes

The galactose in milk may explain why milk consumption is associated with significantly higher risk of hip fractures, cancer, and premature death.


Milk is touted to build strong bones, but a compilation of all the best studies found no association between milk consumption and hip fracture risk, so drinking milk as an adult might not help bones. But what about in adolescence? Harvard researchers decided to put it to the test.

Studies have shown that greater milk consumption during childhood and adolescence contributes to peak bone mass, and is therefore expected to help avoid osteoporosis and bone fractures in later life. But that’s not what they found. Milk consumption during teenage years was not associated with a lower risk of hip fracture, and, if anything, milk consumption was associated with a borderline increase in fracture risk in men.

It appears that the extra boost in total body bone mineral density you get from getting extra calcium is lost within a few years, even if you keep the calcium supplementation up. This suggests a partial explanation for the long-standing enigma that hip fracture rates are highest in populations with the greatest milk consumption. Maybe an explanation why they’re not lower, but why would they be higher?

This enigma irked a Swedish research team, puzzled because studies again and again had shown a tendency of a higher risk of fracture with a higher intake of milk. Well, there is a rare birth defect called galactosemia, where babies are born without the enzymes needed to detoxify the galactose found in milk, so they end up with elevated levels of galactose in their blood, which can cause bone loss even as kids. So maybe, the Swedish researchers figured, even in normal people who can detoxify the stuff, it might not be good for the bones to be drinking it every day. And galactose doesn’t just hurt the bones. That’s what scientists use to cause premature aging in lab animals They slip them a little galactose and you can shorten their lifespan, cause oxidative stress, inflammation, brain degeneration, just with the equivalent of one to two glasses of milk’s worth of galactose a day. We’re not rats, though—but given the high amount of galactose in milk, recommendations to increase milk intake for prevention of fractures could be a conceivable contradiction. So they decided to put it to the test, looking at milk intake and mortality, as well as fracture risk, to test their theory.

A hundred thousand men and women followed for up to 20 years; what did they find? Milk-drinking women had higher rates of death, more heart disease, and significantly more cancer for each glass of milk. Three glasses a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of death. And they had significantly more bone and hip fractures too.

Men in a separate study also had a higher rate of death with higher milk consumption, but at least they didn’t have higher fracture rates. So a dose-dependent higher rate of both mortality and fracture in women, and a higher rate of mortality in men with milk intake, but the opposite for other dairy products like soured milk and yogurt, which would go along with the galactose theory, since bacteria can ferment away some of the lactose. To prove it though, we need a randomized controlled trial to examine the effect of milk intake on mortality and fractures. As the accompanying editorial pointed out, we better figure this out soon, as milk consumption is on the rise around the world.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Milk is touted to build strong bones, but a compilation of all the best studies found no association between milk consumption and hip fracture risk, so drinking milk as an adult might not help bones. But what about in adolescence? Harvard researchers decided to put it to the test.

Studies have shown that greater milk consumption during childhood and adolescence contributes to peak bone mass, and is therefore expected to help avoid osteoporosis and bone fractures in later life. But that’s not what they found. Milk consumption during teenage years was not associated with a lower risk of hip fracture, and, if anything, milk consumption was associated with a borderline increase in fracture risk in men.

It appears that the extra boost in total body bone mineral density you get from getting extra calcium is lost within a few years, even if you keep the calcium supplementation up. This suggests a partial explanation for the long-standing enigma that hip fracture rates are highest in populations with the greatest milk consumption. Maybe an explanation why they’re not lower, but why would they be higher?

This enigma irked a Swedish research team, puzzled because studies again and again had shown a tendency of a higher risk of fracture with a higher intake of milk. Well, there is a rare birth defect called galactosemia, where babies are born without the enzymes needed to detoxify the galactose found in milk, so they end up with elevated levels of galactose in their blood, which can cause bone loss even as kids. So maybe, the Swedish researchers figured, even in normal people who can detoxify the stuff, it might not be good for the bones to be drinking it every day. And galactose doesn’t just hurt the bones. That’s what scientists use to cause premature aging in lab animals They slip them a little galactose and you can shorten their lifespan, cause oxidative stress, inflammation, brain degeneration, just with the equivalent of one to two glasses of milk’s worth of galactose a day. We’re not rats, though—but given the high amount of galactose in milk, recommendations to increase milk intake for prevention of fractures could be a conceivable contradiction. So they decided to put it to the test, looking at milk intake and mortality, as well as fracture risk, to test their theory.

A hundred thousand men and women followed for up to 20 years; what did they find? Milk-drinking women had higher rates of death, more heart disease, and significantly more cancer for each glass of milk. Three glasses a day was associated with nearly twice the risk of death. And they had significantly more bone and hip fractures too.

Men in a separate study also had a higher rate of death with higher milk consumption, but at least they didn’t have higher fracture rates. So a dose-dependent higher rate of both mortality and fracture in women, and a higher rate of mortality in men with milk intake, but the opposite for other dairy products like soured milk and yogurt, which would go along with the galactose theory, since bacteria can ferment away some of the lactose. To prove it though, we need a randomized controlled trial to examine the effect of milk intake on mortality and fractures. As the accompanying editorial pointed out, we better figure this out soon, as milk consumption is on the rise around the world.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to 1000 anuncios de publicidad y más… via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

What can we do for our bones, then? Weight-bearing exercise such as jumping, weight-lifting, and walking with a weighted vest or backpack may help, along with getting enough calcium (Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, & Calcium Loss) and vitamin D (Resolving the Vitamin D-Bate). Eating beans (Phytates for the Prevention of Osteoporosis) and avoiding phosphate additives (Phosphate Additives in Meat Purge and Cola) may also help.

Maybe the galactose angle can help explain the findings on prostate cancer (Prostate Cancer and Organic Milk vs. Almond Milk) and Parkinson’s disease (Preventing Parkinson’s Disease with Diet).

Galactose is a milk sugar. There’s also concern about milk proteins (see my casomorphin series) and fats (The Saturated Fat Studies: Buttering Up the Public and Trans Fat in Meat and Dairy) as well as the hormones (Dairy Estrogen and Male Fertility, Estrogen in Meat, Dairy, and Eggs and Why Do Vegan Women Have 5x Fewer Twins?).

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

225 responses to “Is Milk Good for Our Bones?

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    1. Hi Joe, to fix the problem, just quickly play then pause the video and allow it to completely down load then play as normal, this will achieve and uninterrupted viewing, all the best

      1. I couldn’t even play, I got a message to log in and was still denied. It’s working tonight though with no frustrating messages. Thanks for your help.

        1. Log in? Why would you have to “log in” to view a vimeo video on an independent website, and what are you being asked to “log in” to?

          There are no “log in” issues on my end and never have been. I hope that serves as some kind of inspiration to you.

    2. To get it started, fullscreen, click anywhere on the video (it doesn’t have to be the triangle) then type ‘f’ to go fullscreen. Saves me a bit of time… GL :)

  1. Grow up! Drink your milk! ….. Oehh, that’s terrible of me :)

    (Yes I’m aware of the early adolescence thing ^^ )

  2. These are the studies that make me puzzled as to why Dean Ornish says what he says about milk. Hopefully I can upload a picture of what I saw at the store a couple months back.

          1. I cannot believe that Dr. Dean Ornish is pushing the benefit of milk consumption.
            I think that most of his guidelines are correct, but this is one that I do not agree with.

      1. I always knew he allowed a limited number of servings (0-2) of non fat dairy in his plan, also egg whites and fish oil (well at least I knew since I purchased a cookbook of his which I mistakenly assumed was WFPB). I get that his focus is primarily on reducing fat for heart disease, he’s not vegan, and perhaps does not have quite the same package-deal/non-reductionist viewpoint on food we see from Greger and Campbell. And while I think that obviously an entirely WFPB diet is ideal and follow it myself, I’m not entirely convinced that WFPB plus a tiny amount of animal products will make a meaningful difference in outcomes and have certainly always held him in great esteem for his tremendous advocacy and influence over the years. All that said, to see him actively promoting non-fat milk as healthy rather than just discouraging full-fat milk is kind of disorienting.

          1. Sorry Susan, I didn’t even realize I used that one three times! Whole food plant based Whole food plant based Whole food plant based… that one’s a biggie to keep typing out. But it’s probably the most common acronym we see here. SOS (sugar oil salt) and CVD (cardiovascular disease) come up fairly often as well. It’s true we get so used to using these things we don’t think about people who might be new to it. Thanks for asking!

        1. Hi Boomer,
          I read a recent Q and A that he was a participant in. He actually was/is a vegan (?) but doesn’t call himself that because he likes to have the rare sushi meal down the street from where he works. I don’t have the interview handy or I would post.

          1. Correct. Dean Ornish lives in at the real active world.

            Eating vegan 90 -95 percent of the time, and having an occasional sushi meal is o.k. in my book. With this kind of flexibility it is very easy to exist on a plant based diet.

            1. One doesn’t eat ‘vegan’ foods.. veganism isn’t a diet, veganism is a way of living that excludes all animal products.. all.. “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. ” one eats a plant based diet.. one can not therefore be vegan 90-95% of the time… because ‘vegan’.. is not a diet.

          2. That’s interesting Veganrunner. That was an uninformed assumption on my part! I never pictured him eating dairy or egg whites personally, but with his recommendations for fish oil I guess I assumed he was consuming that himself.

            The sushi thing surprises me. Vegan sushi is so fishy tasting already with just the nori. I get a vegan sushi occasionally that has avocado, pickled ginger, carrots, mango, cucumber – can’t imagine wanting the texture of raw fish over fresh veggies. Not to even mention the biomagnification or food poisoning issues. But I guess I really don’t crave any non-vegan foods. Junk foods yes, but always vegan ones ;)

            1. The other thing that might influence his choices is that in his original published research the subjects were allowed a cup (off the top of my head-it may be 1/2 cup) of yogurt per day. Soooo, although we know better that may have something to do with it.

      2. he’s clearly tied to the dairy industry,
        as here in france we have same “nutritionist” (Jean Michel Cohen) tied to Danone and other huge dairy brands and constantly trusting the big media streams (TV channels, radios) to push people consuming dairy….

        it is all about business. Our society produces tremendous quantities of meat, and therefore milk (one does not go without the other), and all this production must find its way to the consumer : milk, butter, cheese, (ice)cream etc…

        1. Bonjour, Couba!

          Could you tell us a bit more about the WFPB vs Normal French diets (differing much by region?) and about the politics? Who are the leading figures and doctors in the movement? Are any famous French people or politicians vegan/WFPB? I am fascinated. I have watched a number of Italian videos on the topic to help sick friends in Italy, but it took forever to find the good ones. I would love to know more and where to start in the French scene. If you feel so inclined, I would be grateful, and you can contact me directly here, I think, or by searching my name and the word “dreams” on the net. ( I guess it would be poor taste to post my site here.) If you would like to write me in French I would be EVEN more grateful. My family has 3 generations of francophiles and francophones!

        2. And here in Canada, as is done in the US and other countries, the dairy industry is subsidized to the hilt by government. Yup, that’s you and me. As with every other product out there that is loosing popularity they’re constantly and desperately looking for a market for this stuff. Several years ago I purchased a tube of pureed basil when I couldn’t find fresh. Got it home and was disturbed to find they’d thrown in “milk ingredients”.

      3. This is really comes as no surprise. Dean Ornish’s Spectrum “Most Healthy” Group 1 diet allows for low fat dairy and egg whites and his Group 3 Intermediate diet includes fish. He is not advocating an exclusively whole foods plant based diet, and I don’t really remember him ever doing so. He also is a paid consultant for McDonald’s Corporation. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he is compromising his principles and MickyD’s could certainly use all the nutritional guidance it can get, but it does call his credibility into question so I hope that he was commensurably remunerated for his good name and reputation.

    1. I’m highly skeptical that Dr. Ornish endorsed the creation or use of this marketing item. It’s true dairy was included in his earlier, but not later, programs which were published. His current Spectrum program seems to hold a truly plant based diet as the ideal, and simply encourages people to make as many changes as they are able and willing, in that direction. A quick search doesn’t reveal what this “Good to Know” program is or who is behind it; my hunch is that Safeway or another party erroneously connected the milk propaganda with an Ornish endorsement that was meant for something else. But let’s just look at the data rather than speculate about an individual and a marketing mess. Please see my comment in response to Dawn below.

      1. The sign itself says that this is a partnership between Ornish and Safeway. This partnership was also apparently covered as news for grocery industry insiders, e.g.:

        “The O organic line falls under the company’s strategy to be the health and wellness advocate for its shoppers. To do this it is leveraging existing assets, such as its pharmacy and family care centers and its relationship with Dr. Dean Ornish, to provide “good to know” brand communications throughout the store. It is also working with Tufts University and the USDA to develop a scorecard system that shoppers can use to measure the health value of the food they buy.”

        Maybe it doesn’t represent Ornish’s true views, but it certainly seems that Ornish had ample opportunity to prevent this message from being connected with him if he didn’t want it to be.

      2. I have known Dean Ornish slightly since the late 80’s. (I attended his wedding, coached him in TV appearances.) Think of the attitude-shifting scientific and educational work he has done over the years! From what I have experienced of his personality and goals, It has been my guess and strong suspicion that Dean was dragged into writing The Spectrum by his experience that many people just won’t make HUGE shifts and need a slower, middle road to get going. Let us who are here on this site not forget that MANY people hear the word “vegan” or that there can be no meat or even just no cheese in a diet, and they SHUT DOWN and flee. Thanks to Dr. Greger’s Year-in-Review videos we were immediately convinced to go 100% WFPB, and the knowledge was sufficient to make the transition easy for us. But such has not been the case with most of our friends. We, who comment here, are apparently not the norm when it comes to eating for a fuller, healthier life. Dr. Greger’s videos on how even moderate shifts can help are worth remembering; and I think Dean Ornish, being one whose head can guide his appetites, probably has learned to include the many who have more difficulty.

  3. Of all the classic ‘milk is poopy food’ lectures out there, this one goes on about galactose more than the others. (see below.)
    OFF TOPIC: Now that America seems intent on eating its way out of the Asian carp invasion, I wonder if there are any studies showing if this stuff is just as ‘poopy’ as all the other fish flesh out there. Thanks for your consideration.

    1. Hi DanaB. Great question. All dairy products have lactose, which will contain galactose (the sugar found in milk that may be harmful). Yogurt may have a bit less galactose, but it is still there. Milk seems to be the most destructive of the dairy foods, but yogurt and other dairy products like cheese (although the research is mixed), have been associated with increased risk of insulin-like growth factor, which can boost other diseases risks. Another study shows higher intake of lactose (equivalent of 3 glasses of milk per day) may be associated with ovarian cancer risk. Hope that helps answer your question.


      1. Hi,
        I too am a bit confused about yogurt. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the video, but there is one in which dr. Greger discusses a graph that shows that consuming yogurt may have benefits for …(don’t know what it was for)
        As a singer I clearly don’t want to eat a lot of yogurt since my throat is then a bit ‘congested’ (don’t know if this is the right word for it), but I like my oatmeal once in a while with this creamy sauer taste haha
        Are there any updates on this subject?

        1. Hi Fianne. I am a volunteer moderator on As a singer, you definitely want to take care of your voice. Is this the video you are looking for Preventing the Common Cold with Probiotics. If it is, Dr Greger mentions that fruits and vegetables are a better source for prebiotics and probiotics, How about adding some fruit and nuts to your oatmeal?

    2. While maybe not as bad as milk, other dairy products are good for neither you, the dairy cows constantly impregnated and injected with hormones to artificially produce more milk, or the environment that is harmed by the factory farms that produce 95% of the meat and dairy consumed in North America (the UN Report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” is a good source of information). There are soy & coconut based yogurts that taste the same and are better in all three aspects.

  4. I am upset that my child is forced to take milk with his school lunch at his elementary school. I am confused because I have osteoporosis and Alendronate was prescribed along with direction to drink at least 2 glasses of milk a day and to take calcium as a supplement. I don’t like the side effects of the Alendronate. What is the plant based and most effective osteoporosis cure? I am now walking every day for 4 miles, eating plant based and feeling great. I stopped the Alendronate and don’t drink milk. I need the truth.

      1. I think a lot of my problems come from my years of grade school where I drank one thing a day of skim milk. I thought I was being smart by drinking the low fat kind. Sheesh. Some schools offer juices, but personally, if you can, I would pack them a lunch and put some cold brew tea in their thermos flavored with a bit of sugar. It tastes good, especially if they pick the kind of tea or herbal tea they like.

      2. Is osteoporosis REVERSAL a possibility? Dr Kepler gives a “recipe” here:
        “Osteoporosis can be readily reversed by (a) eliminating the above-named “calcium thieves” from one’s diet and (b) purchasing a weighted vest for about $50 (search for “Weighted Vest”) and wearing it while walking, doing housework, or most any activity for 20 – 40 minutes every day. Start with just one or 2 pounds and gradually work your way up to 10 or 12 lbs. With every step, a wave of weight goes down the spine, hips, and leg bones and the bones respond to the weight loads placed upon them. Bone density soon increases in a healthy, natural manner – not by taking drugs! Gradually increasing the weights over time, will ensure the bones continue to strengthen. For those who cannot wear such a vest, elastic resistance bands used regularly to build muscle will also build bone!”

        1. Dr. Klaper is an amazing doctor who gives his patients sound nutrition advice. I would stand by his recommendations, but it’s never a bad idea (and in fact always encouraged) to ask your own doctor about osteoporosis. In above comments many discuss another helpful book, “Building Bone Vitality” by Dr. Amy Lanou, which may offer suggestions.

    1. Hi Dawn. My favorite book on bone health is “The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis” by R. Keith McCormick. So much fascinating information–It’s the only book I’ve ever read three times in a row! The detailed insightful information in this book complement Dr. Greger’s videos nicely.

    2. Dawn, can I ask what kind of side effects you were having with Alendronate? I too was prescribed Alendronate and have taken it for 1.5 months. Also do you know if it affects LDLs? Mine seemed suprisingly elevated today when i got my labs done. I have been on a WFPB diet for 4 years with great labs. thanks.

      1. Hello , I was on this drug Alendronate for 7 yrs because of osteoporosls had a bone density test . you can only be on it for 7 yrs then they take you off for a year . I dont know why ? My chiropractor told me to get off it .So I did . I am taking bone builder prime with D & Vit D 3- 5000 mg . CalApatite mchc with Iprilavone .Take 3 tablets a daily . Hope it works ! Marilyn.

    3. Dawn: If I were a parent in a similar situation, I would be extremely frustrated. It’s terrible when the government pushes something unhealthy on children.

      For yourself, I think you might get some very good support from the book, “Building Bone Vitality: A revolutionary diet plan to prevent bone loss and reverse osteoporosis”. The book includes a chapter on medications as well as exercise, but is mostly about diet. I highly recommend it–Without/dp/0071600191/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426543218&sr=1-1&keywords=building+bone+vitality

    4. Dawn, I’m guessing you have asked the school to not give milk to your son? If so, would you be able to instruct your son to not drink the milk, and at the end of lunch return it? Maybe I’m being naive, but surely the school can’t force him to drink the milk.

    5. You could take lactaid. It is a scientific fact that the vast majority of your bones is made of phosphorous. Phosphorus is used in energy regulation, your body will salvage it from your bones for metabolism. You should make sure you get your daily minimum of phosphorus, but not too much as some people say high phosphorous can cause bone density loss.

    6. I highly recommend the book Building Bone Vitality by Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D. and Michael Castleman. The foreward, incidentally, is by Dean Ornish. I’ve taken the liberty to reproduce one paragraph of it here: “Lanou and Castleman have analyzed more than twelve hundred studies showing that (1) the United States and other countries that consume the most milk, dairy, and calcium have the world’s highest fracture rates; (2) milk, dairy foods, and calcium supplements do not reduce fracture risk and in some studies increase it; and (3) a diet high in fruits and vegetables consistently improves bone mineral density and reduces fractures.”

      1. This is odd, since I remember a study or dietary report showing that vegans have a high rate of osteoporosis. This is something we shouldn’t kid ourselves about (for those of us who are vegan). It’s a serious health issue. I know a vegan who is osteoporotic (post-menopausal is my guess) and she suffers greatly with her back pain. I have some scoliosis and I am fine-boned, so this is something I really have failed to address properly in my diet. I know I need to tackle more greens, more tahini (sesame seed paste), more broccoli, and more regular use of almonds (although I’m pretty good with the almonds. Oh, I use ground almonds (almond flour) plus salt in a shaker to replace parmasean).

        1. Goodmorning team from Nutritionfacts :-)
          In the “western world” we tend to think we need calcium from milk etc. But the major population of the world doesn’t eat/drink milk from animals.
          I wonder, are there studies showing a higher/lower risk of bone fracture in countries where they aren’t drinking/eating any milk products?
          Thanx for your reply!

          1. Hi Fianne and thanks for your question. This video on phytates, found in plant seeds and consumed primarily in whole grains, beans and nuts, demonstrates how diets high in these plant based foods have protective effects on our bones: Follow that with this quick snippet of a video that shows that following a long term vegan diet is at least equivalent to omnivores in terms of bone health: Ditch the milk and follow a whole food plant based diet for optimal health, bones and otherwise.

    7. Was just watching this vid from Dr.John McDougall about Osteoporosis. The stuff about calcium leaching from bones to buffer acid in the diet might be out of date now (probably up to date at the time of the video as that was the prevailing theory?) but the other stuff about big business, drugs and disease mongering is excellent! You create a problem or define something so that a large part of the population has it then you let them know and try and sell them a cure and diagnosis measures and so on.. Well worth watching! He ends up telling the audience to stop depending on drugs so much and falling for marketing and to instead fix your diet + lifestyle and let your body heal as it would like to if we didn’t keep damaging it! The stuff about relative versus absolute value and risk is great too. He explains how info about drugs is given to us so that we believe we should take it e.g. this drug is twice as effective as X. While conveniently leaving out that it e.g. lowers risk from 4% to 2% for all the effort/cost required and how many people actually need to take a drug a year for 1 person to be treated/cured.. Fascinating stuff.

    8. As a nurse at an Edmonton, Alberta hospital it is disheartening to at times see 2 containers of milk on each of the meal trays that come up from the hospital kitchen. To add to that they have just started sending up 3.25% milk in some of those containers. This is a health care facility stepping back in time. On the upside there was recently a Grand Rounds presentation on Nutritional Psychiatry which was very informative and basically discussed the growing evidence suggesting that the quality of the diet being a modifiable risk factor for psychiatric disorders.

    1. Hi C. Good question many folks are into fermented foods. Sometimes it is hard for researchers to control for fermented dairy, as dairy products usually get lumped into one category, or researchers look at dairy consumption by lactose content. One study found positive associations between intakes of total dairy foods, low-fat milk, and lactose and risk of ovarian cancer. When I search for other studies on yogurt many arise, but I am not confident that 100% of the time it is found harmless. If anyone can shed light on this topic I am all ears. When I think of why folks consume fermented dairy (yogurt and others) I believe it is for calcium, protein, and probiotics? The truth is very little probiotics exist and the probiotics found in yogurt are not naturally occurring because yogurt is pasteurized (killing all bacteria) and manufactures add back probiotics. Dr. Greger talks about paces to find probiotics. Lastly, protein and calcium can be obtained from many sources without running the risk of overdoing lactose consumption.


        1. Thanks MacSmiley for jumping in! Is that right? That sounds better than my answer. So yes, either way the cultures are added back into the product so essentially there is nothing unique about probiotics in cows yogurt.

      1. To add to the confusion:

        The most recent meta-analysis of dairy products and prostate cancer found an increased risk for yogurt intake–summary RR 1.08 per 100 grams/day based on five cohort studies. For cheese (often fermented), the summary RR was 1.10 per 50g/day based on 11 studies. (There was also an association with lowfat milk but surprisingly, whole milk was protective—but keep on reading for a suggestion as to why all these milk studies may be questionable.) (Abstract at

        In contrast, the EPIC-Interact study in Europe showed an association between milk and Type 2 diabetes but found that fermented products (e.g., yogurt and cheese) were not associated with that disease.

        Fermentation destroys or attenuates the microRNA involved in milk signalling, says German dermatologist/researcher Dr. Bodo Melnik, who has written extensively on the many problems linked to milk–including acne and prostate cancer. (Links to Melnik’s studies are in this article: )

        Melnik suggests that most epidemiological studies are flawed because, among other factors, they don’t take into consideration whether milk’s been treated to destroy the microRNA that trigger constant growth signalling. (Abstract at

        Perhaps someone on your staff could have a look at the links above. I am in touch with Dr. Melnik and will ask him to comment further.

    1. A few years back, Amy Joy Lanou did a thorough investigation of the research on dairy and bone health. Her book. “Building Bone Vitality” is worth the read. To learn more about her book click on the first link. One of the theories she cites in her book is the long held theory that diets high in animal protein cause bone loss. The second link takes you to an article that questions this theory. The third link is to Dr. Greger’s video on the research that puts this theory in question.

  5. What am I missing? In a quick internet search of foods highest in galactose yields cooked celery. The list is mostly vegan with milk being way down the list?

      1. Interesting, Robert. Thanks for pulling that study. Do you know if the researchers found any negative associations with the free galactose found in plants? Seems to me the amount of galactose is very small in plant foods, I suspect negligible. I looked at a related article and found this 2014 study, A re-evaluation of life-long severe galactose restriction for the nutrition management of classic galactosemia. If this study holds true, all plant sources of galactose can be consumed except for fermented soy products, apparently.

    1. The study states:
      “Non-dairy sources of D-galactose are mainly cereals, vegetables, and fruits, but the concentration
      of galactose and the amount ingested from these sources accounts for a small proportion of the total intake of galactose. Put into perspective, the amount of lactose in one glass of milk corresponds to approximately 5 g of galactose, whereas the amount in 100 g of fruits or vegetables is measured in
      milligrams or tens of milligrams.”

  6. Hi Dr Greger! You may want to update the “vegan women have twins” link as it is mapping to your IBS video (which btw I enjoyed watching). Thanks so much for posting this type of information as so many healthcare professionals like myself don’t often have exposure in managing patients on a vegan diet. I have been vegan for approx 4 yrs, feel amazing and don’t plan on ever going back to ominovore diet. My PCP is happy w/ my labs and my quality of life is wonderful. Thnx again.

  7. I have always disliked milk even as a little kid, and even though it was pushed on me, I tried to avoid it…it made me feel like I was drinking mucous! I stopped drinking it as a beverage as soon as I could, but became lactose intolerant and sensitive to even the dairy included in other foods. Dairy contributed to a lot of issues for me that I didn’t even realize until I cut it out completely, which was probably the best single thing I could have done! Apparently, it applies to everyone! …and skimmed products can be even worse?

  8. I have no access to the study, but from what I’ve gleaned from other sources it seems to indicate that, among the women, three or more glasses of milk per day nearly doubled the incidence of death (by 93 percent) compared to those who drank none or less than one glass of milk per day.

    Then, when discussing cheese they say that, “Using this range[what does that mean??], incidence of deaths from cardiovascular disease decreased from 37-52%, and deaths from cancer decreased from 5-15% among women who ate 60 grams or more of cheese a day.

    I doubt they examined groups that only ate cheese and drank no milk, so is the decreased risk for mortality a reduction from those who drank less milk, or was it a reduction from the 93% increased risk from drinking milk?

    Does the study show that eating yogurt or cheese would still increase risk of mortality, just not as much as drinking milk would? In which case the lowest risk would be from no dairy, the next higher risk would be from fermented dairy, and the highest risk from milk. Is that an accurate assessment of the study?

    Also, I’d like to point out that women were studied for 20 years and men for only 11 and the cheese in question was fermented.

    1. Answered my own question. Here’s what the study says:

      ” In a sensitivity analysis,
      the risk estimates of the outcomes associated with consumption
      of cheese or fermented milk products were in the opposite
      direction of estimates associated with milk consumption. Thus
      women with a high intake of cheese or fermented milk products
      compared with women with low intakes had lower mortality
      and fracture rates (see supplementary tables C and D). For each
      serving the rate of mortality and hip fractures was reduced by
      10-15% (P<0.001). Risk reductions in men, based on a single
      exposure assessment, were more modest or were non-existent
      (see supplementary tables C and D)."

      1. Hi Val, You are spot on and bring up good points. Dr. Greger mentions that in the last portion of the video, how fermented products differed from regular milk. The accompanying editorial talks about the need for an extended trial. I also made a few comments about lactose and yogurt below if your interested.

  9. SInce becoming vegan I have avoided ALL dairy to the best of my ability. I adhere to Dr. Fuhrman’s GBOMBS rubric: greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, nuts & seeds with starches and whole grains. Don’t know if I’ve gone overboard eating mostly RAW cruciferous vegetables (even sprouting my own broccoli seeds), flax seeds, organic Eden beans with kombu, drinking Eden soy milk, sometimes with kombu, etc. Just back from a checkup, test results are excellent, which is what you’d expect given a vegan lifestyle. However, my TSH was 0.11 & T4 free was 1.29, to be repeated in 3 months. I looked up hyperthyroidism, but most available information is about hypothyroidism, which seems to be a huge problem for women. Do I need 150 mg of iodine or a kelp food/supplement given all the goitrogenic foods I eat? Could not find dietary recommendations anywhere. Thanks for making this informative site available to the public.

    1. Good luck on the Iodine. It seems to stop pain in it’s tracks. It’s a large atom that may be able to break down and get smaller ones stuck in it making your body work twice as hard to signal itself. Remember, just one half tea spoon salt a day or three nori sheets. Thank you for educating others.

  10. milk should be good for brain as that is the one thing that is growing very fast when a baby is born outside the womb as the brain program itself for the world it is born into.

    1. Smith, that’s what most of us are led to believe, but I don’t think there’s any problems with the brains of Asian children and adults who number ~4.3 billion and who never touch milk if raised on their traditional diets. But milk is the perfect food for baby cows who by the age of 16 months have grown into adulthood weighing between 1,000 to 1,800 lbs.

    1. Hi Jeffb, I think that lactose-free milk still would have galactose. Lactose-free milk from what I I understand only has lactase to help break down lactose into galactose and glucose, making it easier for those lactose intolerant.

      1. Smith, that’s what we’re all led to believe, but I don’t think there’s any problems with the brains of Asian children and adults who number ~4.3 billion and who never touch milk if raised on their traditional diets. But milk is the perfect food for baby cows who by the age of 16 months have grown into adulthood weighing between 1,000 to 1,800 lbs.

      2. Joseph is 100% correct here. By using Cron-O-Meter and looking at the nutrition info of fat-free lactose (Lactaid) milk, we can see that 1 cup contains 6.22 grams of both galactose and glucose. This is compared to regular fat free milk which contains 12.15 grams of lactose which contains a 1:1 ratio of galactose and glucose, so no change in total galactose content.

  11. I am not surprised that fermented dairy has less deleterious effects as milk. One thing I like to stress to people who cite dairy in the Mediterranean diet as a reason they continue to eat dairy is not only the limited amounts of dairy for Cretes, but it was eaten fermented: think blue cheese and yogurt. The Okinawans who do not consume dairy have an enviable lack of prostate and breast cancer. Today’s dairy, unfortunately also has higher levels of estrogen due to cow’s lactation through pregnancy- a common practice. This could mean a devastating spike in estrogen-positive breast cancer for dairy consumers or other unknown effects.

  12. Hello my friends.
    Thank you all for talking kind here :).
    I was thinking… If the lactose is the problem, is the problem solved by drinking lactose free milk?
    I have been told before that the real problem is not the lactose, but the milk protein. I am a little confused now.

    The time difference tells me to go to bed now but I hope for an answer from you :).
    Good night from Denmark.

    1. Hi Macro. Lactose-free milk would still have galactose (see my comment below), from what i understand. And you raise a good point, as some studies find animal protein itself is potentially harmful. We know that milk and dairy protein can increase prostate cancer risk. There is a good chapter in this review on dairy products and prostate cancer. We also see a great explanation on milk and prostate cancer from this video. Hope this helps.


  13. Journal of GeriontologY M55 (2000) Department of Medicine at the University of California “A high ratio of vegetable to animal protein was found to be impressively associated with a virtual disappearance of bone fractures.” Fully supported by scientific analysis. Also, worldwide, the high dairy regions are exactly the osteoporosis regions. Do note these are also high meat regions.

    1. Hi :) Loved your segue BTW :) No clinical data to suggest B17 necessary or helpful. Cochrane analysis 2011 came out against the substance due to side effect of cyanide poisoning! If you want that full text article you mentioned, I can send it to you. (Couldn’t figure out how to attach it, so just send a note to

    1. Crystal, vegan is a statement of what you don’t eat, not what you do. So it is possible that Simon had some pretty bad dietary habits, just that those habits didn’t include eating any animal derived foods. After all a lunch of sugared Coke and a pack of Twizzlers would be still be vegan. Or it could have been that he had excellent plant-based diet full of whole foods with minimal processed foods and still developed cancer. And remember that if he was a vegan for 15 years, that means that he wasn’t for 44 years. It very well could have been that he developed colon cancer before his switch to a better diet and it was his diet that retarded the progression an already very advanced cancer enough that he lived to 59 instead of dying at say 49.

      But just because one person who followed a vegan diet developed cancer doesn’t mean that improving ones diet isn’t a very worthwhile goal. Diet is probably plays the largest single role in the development and progression of cancer, but it isn’t the sole determiner. So while people who eat a whole food plant based diet with lots of greens, whole grains, legumes, fruits and nuts their entire life have a cancer rate that is a fraction of the general population, it isn’t zero. This means that there will be some people who will develop cancer and die from it regardless of how good their diet is.

      In a similar case, people ask if a vegan diet is so good for you, how then did Steve Jobs die of pancreatic cancer after being vegan for so long, with the implication that since the diet failed in this situation for this one person, them maybe it doesn’t really do much for making sure that we don’t get cancer or that if we do, doesn’t keep us from dying from it. Dr. McDougall had a very interesting response to the critics of a plant based diet who used the case of Steve Jobs as evidence that it doesn’t work. It is a little long, but very informative.

  14. Hey Dr !
    I m 21 years old girl , and facing many problems regarding low hemoglobin level and iron level may bone are very weak and physique is childish with 5 foot height and 40 kg weight …Please suggest some sort of diet plan or food so that I will follow this and improve my health and also suggest something to improve my height and physique…Thank you

  15. I am 21 year old girl with 5 ft height and 40 kg weight I am facing problems regarding low Hemoglobin and iron level .My bones are weak and my physique is childish please suggest some diet plan so that I I’ll be able to improve my health and physique… Thank you

    1. Hi Sadia, First I just wanted to share with you that after going vegan, my hemoglobin levels increased from 11.8 to 13.7 g/dL with no supplementation. As a woman, I went from being considered technically anemic to having a quite healthy hemoglobin level. Prior to going vegan I was mostly vegetarian out of habit and did eat plenty of beans and some fruits and veggies, but my vegetable (especially dark leafy greens), fruit, and overall vitamin C intake increased significantly when I eliminated even the fairly small amount of animal products I was eating. I just wanted to share my story to give you some hope.

      For an overview of iron in vegan and non-vegan diets, I think this summary by registered dietitian Jack Norris is one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen:

      In particular, the Jack Norris article contains a table with some plant foods that have the highest iron content:

      Once you have improved your iron intake, you can take additional steps to improve your body’s absorption of that iron. Several informational videos are available on this site with tips such as eating Vitamin C rich foods with your iron rich foods (to some extent this occurs naturally with plant foods), eating onions and garlic with iron rich foods, and avoiding tea and coffee at meals:

      For bone health, avoiding phosphates in meat products and cola, and eating beans and whole grains appear to be beneficial:

      Vitamin D and calcium are necessary for bone health as well. Similarly to iron, calcium can be found in a variety of foods (often the same foods highlighted for high iron content) such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans, calcium-set tofu, nuts, and certain fruits. If you struggle to raise your intake sufficiently through foods, you may consider fortified food products such as cereals or plant milks, however be aware that calcium supplementation has been called into question in recent years due to possible negative effects on cardiovascular health. You can see Dr. Greger’s recommendations for Vitamin D supplementation (based on geographic location, but only for northern hemisphere residents) here: [If you are in the sourthern hemisphere, perhaps you can still guess based on what you think is an appropriately analogous location.]

      Also, weight bearing exercise such as walking and strength training is extremely important for bone health, particularly in women and those with slim figures. This page provides a nice introduction to exercise and bone health. You can find plenty of information elsewhere on the internet for specific programs or exercises:

      I hope that helps Sadia! And while strong bones and good hemoglobin levels are excellent goals, I hope you don’t consider your height or natural build something that needs to be fixed. Health and vitality is beautiful at any height with any body type. All the best to you.

  16. I have a comment. I recently learned after 33 years of being a milk drinker that I have a strong lactose intolerance, like 2/3 of all Americans. You can diagnose yourself: do you have dark shades or bruises underneath your eyes and upside down smiley faces beneath your nails? If you so, your dreaded dream has come true: you are allergic to milk like 200 million other Americans. You can buy some lactaid pills and milk will be good for you again. Or use lactaid milk. Maybe even have a slice of pizza with a lactaid pill. The pain your stomach must ignore by way of brain signaling from all the lactose bacteria fighting. Those identifiers will go away immediately upon not drinking milk. I do not think it is calcium bones need to be strong. 80 percent or more of the bones in your body is made of phosphorous, not calcium. Phosphorus as a power is also white like calcium. I am now a lactose intolerant would-be vegetarian. On my to vegan. There could be a study to see if phosphorous builds strong bones. Phosphorous is the energy molecule of the whole world, in ATP, and as you age, your body steals phosphorous from your bones. You could see if drinking a diet soda a day (lots of phosphorus), can add to bone health. Remember to bruise with a base afterwards. Milk does have complete protein if you want to get away from sulfur containing amino acids for life extension. I have heard that phosphorus is not good for bones but I do not agree and have no evidence or way to test this, my opinion. Watch TV to see who has a milk allergy. It’s all around and we have gotten used to it.

    1. Hi Matthew, have you seen this video of Dr Greger’s regarding phosphorus?

      From the video: “It’s thought to […] hurt our bones, by contributing to osteoporosis by disrupting hormonal regulation.”

      Article cited is available in free full text here:

      Caution should be used when recommending increased phosphorus in the diet. Americans already consume much more than the recommended amount and there are numerous negative health effects associated with it.

      1. Dear b00mer, Thank you for this post. I hope all Americans get their minimum and do not give themselves a phosphorous shortage. Still most of our bones are made of phosphorous and not calcium. I am sorry for my bad advice. Phosphorous is used every day in anergy cycling. Going from ATP to ADP to AMP, and waiting to add more phosphorus. The drugs they made for osteoporosis, don’t work, and they make people real sick. They all sound kinda like phosphorous too, like phosomax. Too much phosphorous can cause kidney failure, too little can lead to real weak metabolism. I hope there is a happy minimum, as this is my own idea about how the veins can actually eat through bone with hunger.

        1. What kind of measurement are you using when saying most of our bones are made of phosphorous and not calcium? What’s your source?

          1. Please see

            “bone mineral itself has Ca:P ratios ranging from 1.37 – 1.87”

            More Phosphorus than Calcium in the mineral.

            Please forgive the error. I retract here. Bone is not 85 percent Phosphorous. However, Bone is a store house of Phosphorous, as 85 percent of it is in the bone.


            “About 85% of phosphorus in the body can be found in bones and teeth, but it is also present in cells and tissues throughout the body. ”

            Source: Phosphorus | University of Maryland Medical Center
            University of Maryland Medical Center
            Follow us: @UMMC on Twitter | MedCenter on Facebook

            Phosphorous is an essential element in nutrient cycling and I believe we know the body robs the bones for a nutrient. I do not think Calcium is as well used.

            Thank you and please let me know if there is any additional information I can provide.


              1. The opposite! if you had 50 grams Calcium to 100 grams Phosphorus The ratio would be .5 50/100. In this example, 50 grams of Calcium would mean 68 – 93 grams phosphorous. The second divisor in your example inverts that inequality sign as you have it written. All apologies!

                1. Sorry. I see my error. You have 37 or 87 percent more Calcium than phosphorus in the bones. Phosphorus is still a main component of bones.

  17. No animal products for 8 weeks now no milk products for 15 months, and I ordered a vegetarian plate for the first time in my life today,
    clueless what it was supposed to be, what do I get?
    CHEESE on bread :(
    I guess my food ordering skills need some work. :)

    1. Unfortunately vegetarian means no meat but dairy and eggs are ok. I’ve been invited to vegetarian potlucks and it has been very difficult to find something to eat.

    1. My understanding as someone with a vague knowledge of sugar polymers: In dairy lactose, galactose is connected to glucose by a β1→4 linkage that is rapidly cleaved by lactase so the galactose is available in the small intestine. In vegetal or mushroom arabinogalactans the linkages are β1→5 and β1→6 and in galactoligosaccharides (stachyose, raffinose), the galactose(s) the linkages are α1→6, which can only be digested by bacterial enzymes in the colon. In other words, milk galactose gets absorbed, while much vegetal galactose functions as prebiotic.

    1. Hi, Kris. Here are all videos where Dr. Greger talks about yogurt. Not sure about homemade yogurt? Some studies have seen an increased risk of prostate cancer with yogurt consumption. It may not be the added or natural sugars in yogurt, but the actual dairy protein itself that may be harmful.

  18. Hi all- First post! I take a PPi for Barrett’s Oesophagus which drains calcium from my bones. I have a small frame and my mother has osteoporoses. So was advised by doctor to take citrical + D for calcium . I have also decided to take magnesium and vit K after doing my own research. I have been vegan for 2.5 years. I try very hard to eat whole foods every day at every meal. I get no praise from any Doctors or specialists who find I am vegan although my blood work is always fine. I have taken up more exercise classes as of January 2015. I am 46 years old. Is there anything else I should be monitoring for bone health? Many thanks for your input.

    1. Kym: I don’t know what a PPi is nor Barrett’s Oesophagus, but you mentioned osteoporoses and bone health. I think the following book is so helpful in understanding what we can do for bone health: “building bone vitality: A Revolutionary diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporsis”. The answer is basically a whole plant food diet, but the book has a lot of general information about bones and specific nutrients as well as recipes that might help you tweak your diet. Maybe some of this information would be helpful to your situation???

      If you are interested, this is the book:–Without/dp/0071600191/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426875889&sr=1-1&keywords=building+bone+vitality

    2. Kym, One other factor might be the amount of phosphorous in your diet, especially the type that is highly absorbable. By eating a WFPB diet, you are definitely moving the right direction since meat, meat additives, and dairy contain very high levels of bio-available phosphorous. Another source is sodas which use phosphorous to stabilize them so that they don’t form so many advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Dr. Greger did a three video series on phosphorus. The key with respect to bone health is that excess phosphorous disrupts the activation of Vitamin D from its storage form to its active form. This is the first in that series.

    1. Hi Dr, McAnsh,

      I looked into this and to my knowledge plant sources of galactose don’t seem to be problematic. More of my comments below, if interested. Thanks for your post.


    1. Not sure. It may be dairy protein in particular, at least regarding prostate cancer risk I commented below. See if my links help?


      1. Hi Dr!
        I want to known, what do you think about this relation between phosphate dairy products and cancer?:

        Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(3):297-9. doi: 10.1080/01635580903407221.

        Dairy products and prostate cancer risk.

        Newmark HL1, Heaney RP.

        Author information


        Increased calcium intake from dairy products has been suggested as a risk factor for prostate cancer. We propose that the high dietary phosphate of dairy products may more readily explain this risk rather than the increased calcium. Several epidemiologic correlations have indicated an increased risk of prostate cancer with long-term, high intake of dairy products in male U.S. physicians and males in Sweden. This relation has been mechanistically associated with the higher dietary intake of calcium in dairy products. We propose, however, that the high dietary phosphate of dairy products affects much larger fluctuation in serum phosphate and may be a more likely source of prostate cancer risk from high dietary intake of dairy products.

        Thay suggest more relation between cancer with phosphate than calcium.


  19. The dairy board is not going to like these findings. Can you hear ¨class action suit¨ being muttered in the wings after hearing ¨Milk does a body good!¨ for the zillionth time?

    1. Aniseed may be super healthful as a spice, but I am not sure about bone health? I hope it is! I think that study was conducted on rats? Do you see any others focusing on human populations? Thanks, Holden!

  20. I’m positively surprised that Dr. Greger didn’t let his vegan agenda get in the way of mentioning (albeit briefly) the positive effects of fermented dairy observed in the Swedish cohort.

    Before the publication of the Swedish study, I wrote a summary here providing an extensive list of pubmed papers showing beneficial effects of dairy for CVD and metabolic syndrome/type II diabetes. Those studies usually didn’t discern between milk and fermented dairy, but those who did found more benefits from the latter. This is the first epidemiological study however, showing such significant opposite effects of milk vs. fermented dairy.

    The authors’ conclusion is that the reduced galactose content due to fermentation may be responsible for these effects. This may be true for cheese, which usually contains only trace amounts of lactose and galactose, but does not explain the magnitude of difference in the outcomes with regard to yogurt, as the galactose content of yogurt is reduced only by about 20-30% by fermentation and in low- and non-fat yogurt the lactose content is usually even higher than in milk because additional milk powder is added to improve taste and texture. My take is that we should not once again step in the reductionist trap here and reduce the health effects of a complex food to one of its main compounds. It may be that reduced galactose levels contributes to the health benefits of yogurt over milk, but there have to be some additional beneficial compounds derived from fermentation being responsible for the observed difference.

    That’s actually good news for vegans, as it now seems likely that fermented plant-based milk may provide similar health benefits as traditional yogurt, without having to worry about galactose.

  21. The jury is out whether it’s good for bones or not. Milk has too many downsides for the average person. Milk is generally fed to babies to make them grow, thus if one is trying to maintain their weight or lose it, milk is not good. Also known to cause stuffiness and inflammation. If an active person is looking to gain weight, they’d probably benefit from a good portion of the 3.25% chocolate milk after a workout.

    Aside from that, it should probably be avoided.

    Fermented dairy on the other hand has many more benefits, but if you want compare it to say fermented cabbage (sauerkraut), sauerkraut wins hands down. Both provide the same benefit to the body minus the additional effects that sauerkraut won’t provide.

  22. What about milk kefir? I am taking kefir, about 3 cups per week (1 liter) a week for gut health. It is made using store bought milk as there is no organic or fresh source available. I cannot locate any study on this.

    1. One of our star NF volunteers made a comment about Kefir grains long ago. I think you can buy the grains and use them in basically any liquid to make “kefir”. There are a ton of studies on this stuff just like there are regarding probiotics, as it is basically a probiotic. More research articles on kefir can be found here.

      1. Thank you sir for the fast reply. Will do some more reading at your site and the links. I was just introduced to this site,and will send my friends over as well. Appreciate the great and informative work you guys are are doing.

  23. Reposting on behalf of Richard:

    “A friend asked me if there were any proven health benefits to be gained by eating animal bone marrow? Has Dr Greger done any research on this topic?”

    Good question, Richard. I haven’t seen any research on the benefits of eating bone marrow, but many folks use animal bones to make broth. Even there I cannot find any studies (if someone can that would be great) to support bone broth. I find Dr. Katz’s article helpful, Bone Broth and Magic Beans.

  24. Hi, on another note about bones, weakening bones, density, and protecting bones from losing density – from what I have read, one factor is that there is Strontium mineral deficiency to keep bones strong. Am I correct Joseph? Since I am new to this site and comment area, is there a suggested “bone health” program for those people with Osteopenia and Osteoporosis? Thank you in advance for your reply.

  25. This ‘long standing anigma’ that hip fracture rates are highest in populations with the greatest milk consumption. I’ve heard it before and I’m dying to find a reliable source for this information. Can you help with this?

    Best regards,


  26. Hello NutritionFacts!

    The fact about bone fracture rates being greater in countries that consume the most dairy – where can I find a study or otherwise reliable source of this information? I am dying to teach about this to my sceptical friends, and I know they’re going to ask for proof.

    Thanks :)

    1. Emil: If you can get your hands on a book called, “Building Bone Vitality” by Amy Lanou and Michael Castleman, they have a chapter titled, Countries That Consume The Most Milk, Dairy Foods, and Calcium Supplements Suffer the Most Fractures. The chapter includes several tables with references for the studies that those tables came from. It’s more than I have time to type in, but I hope you can find the book/references/convincing evidence that you are looking for.

  27. Hi Dr Gregor, I see that milk is bad. What about milk kefir? If you look on the net, there are all these websites that tout the high praise and amazing health benefits of drinking milk kefir (or soured milk). So maybe the kefir grains eat all the galactose up so there is no more galactose? Are there any positive health benefits when making kefir from cows milk? I would love for you to do a video on that topic….the health benefits that are posted on the net and peoples testimonials make it sound like a superfood. Thank you for all you do….

    1. carjul: I agree that kefir/soured milk appears to solve some of the health problems with eating dairy. But the kefir would likely still have all the other problems with consuming dairy: animal protein, high saturated fat, cholesterol, animal growth hormones (breast milk from cows is designed to grow a baby calf hundreds of pounds in the first year), contaminants, etc. Dr. Greger has lots of videos already covering these topics. Here’s NutritionFact’s topic page on dairy. See what you think. You might also research animal protein and IGF-1.

  28. Hi, please consider the following Meta-Analysis: Nutrients 2015, 7, 7749-7763; doi: 10.3390/nu7095363 “Milk Consumption and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, Larsson etc. The Michaëlsson study is taken into account in this MA and has been ‘weighed’. Thnx

  29. Why is galactose from dairy bad for you, yet galactose form vegetables are okay? Makes no sense. Seems the doctor doesn’t respond anyway.

  30. Does a deficiency in Vitamin K2 cause calcium to deposit in the soft tissues rather than the bone and teeth? Please ask Doctor Mercola ( Thanks

    1. LRice324: Yes, both soy and almond milks are healthy substitutes for cows milk of any kind. I find that almond milk is best when I’ll be directly tasting the milk, such as on my oatmeal. But soy milk makes wonderfully creamy sauces and rich cakes. I’d recommend experimenting with both, finding out which brands you like and various ways to use them. Good luck.

  31. There’s a new study supporting the consumption of fermented milk products like yogurt showing reduced fracture risk with daily consumption …from American Society of bone snd mineral research Annual Meeting. Data presented on Medscape..check it out!

  32. Hello! Could you please make a video about kefir? It seems to be all the rage lately and i just started to make it homemade. Would love to hear some facts and whatnot.

    Thanks a bunch!

  33. Hello, sorry if this was posted before, I try to find it but I couldn’t. How about goat’s milk? I’ve read it’s way better than cow’s milk. Also in the China study it wasn’t very clear if it did good or bad – very few provinces ever eat dairy and not surprisingly also eat a lot of meat too. Thanks in advance!

    1. I can’t speak specifically to the China study, but comparing goat’s milk to cow’s milk, goat’s milk does have slightly less lactose than cow’s milk (10% less), so some people tolerate it better if they are just mildly lactose sensitive. However, it does still have a significant amount of lactose and, therefore, galactose making the findings in this video still relevant. Steering clear of animal milk is likely the safest way to go.

    1. Xenocodes: It’s true that fermented diary does not *some* of the negative effects of unfermented dairy. That is what the topic of this video is about. However, there are still plenty of other issues that are as relevant to unfermented dairy. Here is an overview from NutritionFacts on the topic of dairy. You will see what I mean about many of the problem with dairy being unaffected by fermentation:

  34. Hi.
    I was told yesterday that a very big mistake is made in the big study from 2014. The one talking about mortality and milk intake.
    A graph in the study should show a significant higher intake of calories for those with the higher mortality. Can anybody confirm that?

    Thanks from Marco.

    1. As one of the moderators for, I reviewed data bases without success regarding bone cancer and diet. As this point the cause of bone cancer is elusive with the National Cancer Institute concluding “… bone cancer does not have a clearly defined cause…Of course there is much information about the connection between cancer in general, esp. breast and bowel cancer and nutrition, but ferreting out the specific relationship between diet and bone cancers is more difficult. Lacking specific studies, the wise approach would be to adopt the diet that is associated with lowered cancer risks in general. You can view many convincing evidence-based videos by typing in cancer on this site’s search box. Glad you are a NutritionFacts. viewer. Adam.

  35. Are there any health benefits to non-fat greek yogurt, or do general comments about dairy fully apply to this type of yogurt as well, i.e., not good for you and stay away?

    1. Hi Brianna. Thank you for your question. In the study, Milk Consumption during the Teenage Years, the researchers tested the consumption of whole milk, skim/low-fat and cheese. 92% of the subjects consumed whole fat milk. The other studies surveyed a variety of dairy products e.g. fermented milk, yoghurt etc. I hope that answers your question.

  36. Since Galactose is also found in fruits and vegetables, can someone explain how this plant-based galactose differs from milk galactose? And is there any harmful or helpful effects associated with plant-based galactose? I’d appreciate any help on this for research purposes. Thank you!


    1. Hi I’m a RN and health support volunteer with NutritionFacts.
      We tend to have what Dr. Colin Campbell, a pioneer in plant based nutrition, refers to as a “reductionist” point of view of nutrition in the Western world when really we should be looking at the whole food. We like to isolate individual nutrients when really we should be focusing on the whole food. We say fat is bad or protein is good when there is much more to it. In the Dr. Colin Campbell’s China Study, the most comprehensive nutritional study to date, they found significant differences in the effects of animal protein versus plant protein. And animal fat versus plant fat. You can read more about the ideas of reductionism from Dr. Campbell if you are interested:

      When we look at the effects of milk, we need to look at the whole effect of it, not just an individual nutrient and say galactose or lactose is bad. There really are not known bad effects of any plant based WHOLE foods. If a processed food has isolated galactose or any sugar from a plant source and added it to a processed food, that is a very different story. That is like comparing corn to high fructose corn syrup. Or an orange to orange juices. Whole plant foods that naturally have galactose should not cause you any health problems. We are not naturally designed to drink the milk of another species so dairy is problematic for many reasons.

      Thanks for your great question.

      1. Thank you for your response NurseKelly! I appreciate the time you took to answer. I’m aware of the whole-foods paradigm and understand that studying compounds in isolation is not necessarily a correct representation. But my question was rather different – I wanted to know if any research studies on plant-galactose have been done..? Thanks again :)

    1. Dr. Greger hasn’t done anything on this specifically. Dr. Greger usually recommends if you are looking for a topic he hasn’t covered, look on I did take a quick look and it looks like there is a fair amount published.
      Dr. Greger was hoping to do a webinar some time on how to review research articles. I’m looking forward to that.


  37. That organisation would have to do the elaboration. The vast majority of clinical literature on milk ingestion points to either no bone benefit or increased fracture risk with milk intake. What is clear in several studies is a significant increase in ACM (all cause mortality), so even if they can produce a study that shows a decrease in fracture risk, it won’t do anyone any good if they’re dead. I didn’t look in depth into this organization, but it would not surprise me if they were funded by the dairy industry. Just follow the money.

    Dr. Ben

  38. I have a good friend who is a Ayurvedic medicine student who keeps stressing to me that heated milk is healthy – milk simply needs to be boiled for 15 minutes then its pure medicine. I started here on this site searching for all the videos on milk then went online and searched scholarly articles about milk and heating milk. Each time I came up with old studies from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s on thrombosis. That the length of time that milk is pasteurized (standards that still exist today) is short and quick because long heating periods increased thrombosis. What happened to this research? did it just fall off the modern science table? Websites like Live Strong and the CDC write about heating milk but there ins’t anything about thrombosis. I also looked up what exactly is an Ayurvedic Doctor – years of study just like North America medical education. So of course, my friend believes that 3000 year old medical system that says heated milk is pure magic is right. Evidence be damned. I am writing this not because I have doubts but because I can find a dozen videos about milk here but nothing specifically on heating milk for 15 minutes and all the repeat research (which may now be dated) about how modern pasteurization is the length of time it is because science proved heating milk for a long time make it even worse for us to consume. Any comments? thoughts? links? Additional information?

    1. just adding I don’t drink milk, I don’t want to drink milk. I just wanted to have a conversation with my friend about heating milk specifically. All the information I have found here or that is current deals with other aspects of why milk is unhealthy. So when I try to have a conversation about milk with this friend, she simply says “yes, but I am talking about heated milk…” end of conversation.

      1. Great question! All of the clinical research on milk is performed with pastuerized milk. Pasteurization is “heated milk.” The question I would ask your friend goes like this: “we have hundreds of peer-reviewed clinical studies that show that pasteurized (heated) milk increases death and disease when consumed by humans. Do you have any objective evidence that supports your claims of health due to heated milk (other than “the expert said so” or “in my experience it works” or “this is what we’ve been doing for thousands of years). Our senses, expert opinion, and traditions are often wrong. This is why we take objective measurements to weed out the truth from the fallacy. Then it’s checked by other unbiased scientists to make sure no one made a mistake.

        Dr. Ben


  39. Good morning !

    Our teacher – chemical engineer – claims that milk and eggs have vitamin C, and when some of the class told him that we hear for the first time that milk and eggs have vitamin C, he replied this is why he is the teacher.

    Can you please give me some sources that confirm that they milk and eggs have vitamin C ?

    Thank you very much for your time

  40. I have promoted several of yours articles by my blog, and I’m very happy that I can inform a lot of people in regard to eating fruits&vegetables and having a healthy lifestyles.

    But sometimes, moderate comments can be a challenge in discussions with people.

    Recently I person commented to an article about milk: “My great-grandmother eat dairies and ham almost daily, also she drunk a small glass of alcohol and she lived 104 years” – How you, Dr. Greger, recommend me to moderate this kind of comments?

  41. This is an excellent question about a scenario that often occurs on these forums. This is how I address them:
    The clinical studies demonstrate that consumption of certain categories of foods such as dairy and processed meat increase the risk for early death and disease. Note that we said “risk.” So on average if 100 people ate processed meat, something like 50% would eventually experience early death or debilitating disease. But that means that 50% will NOT experience these negative consequences specific to these categories of food. This person grandmother was one of the lucky ones…MAYBE. Maybe she would have lived longer and in better quality of health had she avoided the hazardous foods? The unlucky ones that ham and dairy kill are not discussed and cannot vouch for their hazardous habits because they are dead. I like blueberries as much as I like ham. Blueberries decrease the risk for early death and disease, so I choose to eat blueberries. If someone chooses to eat ham, they need to understand that all available evidence suggests that they may not be as lucky as your poster’s grandmother, but it’s up to them what they want to eat. We just present the evidence so that people can make informed choices. We are not trying to control anyone.

    Dr. Ben

  42. Hi !
    I try to find researches about ”urda” or ”orda” ,but i don’t find anything !
    Urda or Orda is a type of cheese made of sheep’s whey ,and i want to know it is healthy this type of cheese ?!

    1. Hi Ayn,

      Urda is a sheep dairy products, in fact it’s a kind of cheese commonly produced in the Balkans, namely in Serbia, Macedonia and Hungary. The Romanian term “urda” has been borrowed into Bulgarian, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovak, Rusyn, Polish, Czech, and Russian languages.

      Urda is similar to Ricotta (Italian whey cheese) in the way it is produced.

      As you can see here:, “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”.

      Be in health,

  43. This is an excellent question. The answer lies in the study itself, toward the bottom under the heading “Conflicts of interest and funding.” You can see that the study was funded by the dairy industry and the authors receive funding from the dairy industry outside this study. In other words the risk of bias in this study is extreme.

    Dr. Ben

  44. Hello,

    I’ve been eating mostly plant based for 3 years now and my kids are now eating this way, too.

    The problem is that I cannot seem to find the answers I need about my kids’ developing bones and milk consumption. My family is genetically very tall and my kids are all younger than 8. So while I don’t see any reason for them to eat meat if they get their B12, I’ve seen a lot of studies that concerned me about children’s bone development and their need for milk.

    As a mother, of course I want my kids to have the strongest bones possible as they are in this crucial developmental phase. I also fear that I could hurt them if I carry the plant-based thing too far. So even though it makes me cringe, I’ve started giving them a serving of plain, full-fat yogurt ever day or two. This is all because I don’t really know what is best for their bones at this age, and I’m trying to take a middle road. Also, I live in a country where fancy branded calcium-loaded plant foods are non-existent (even blackstrap molasses is inhibitively expensive, and dark leafy greens choice is limited to spinach), and it’s extremely difficult to get high amounts of calcium into the diet. Even 300-400 g of calcium would take an incredible about of these low-calcium-content plant foods.

    So my question: Is there research about vegan kids and the health of their bones long-term? A.k.a. Am I worried for nothing? I want to find these studies, if someone can direct me! I also need advice about feeding kids bone-healthy diets.

    I tried to search everywhere but I got so much conflicting information. Please, please help! Thank you!

    1. Hi, Emmy! Thanks for your question. It is wonderful that you’ve decided to raise your kids plant-based. The American Dietetic Association has stated in a position paper that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

      Regarding bone health, the research has shown that despite the fact that milk-drinkers have a higher calcium intake, long-term vegans were found to have the same bone mineral density. As we saw in the video above, the galactose in milk may explain why milk consumption is associated with significantly higher risk of hip fractures, cancer, and premature death. Still, vegans not getting enough calcium may be at higher risk of bone fractures, making the consumption of plant-based sources of calcium, such as broccoli and kale, important. Calcium absorption from soy milk has been found to be the same as cow’s milk, but soy milk needs to be shaken since the calcium tends to settle at the bottom (

      Additionally, while calcium is important for bone health, fiber and high-phytate foods such as whole grains, beans, and nuts, may also play a role in improving bone mineral density. Vitamin D is also important for bone health and for the proper functioning of many other organs. It should be noted as well that advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which are found in some processed foods and produced by some forms of cooking, may accelerate the aging process and increase risk of osteoporosis. For more information and links, see the bone health topics page:

      Besides not being helpful for bone health, dairy has several other pitfalls as well. Dairy consumption is strongly linked to constipation in children. IGF-1, a hormone found in dairy (and all animal products), may be a powerful tumor-promoting agent and is associated with early onset of puberty and obesity. Xenoestrogens (also found in dairy as well as meat and eggs) are associated with birth defects, preterm birth, neurobehavioral disorders, thyroid disorders, obesity, allergies, and early onset of puberty. (see here:

      The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has a great resource on feeding kids bone-healthy diets that I would highly recommend checking out. Here is the link:

      I’ll also share a few additional outside resources for general information on raising kids plant-based:
      Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine –
      Vegetarian Resource Group – and

      I hope this is helpful and best of luck to you!

  45. I grew up in a post soviet country and when i was a child it was widely believed that milk is very good for ur health, there is a lot of calcuim there. Actually I was thinkig this way till recently when I read in some social media that milk can cause inflammation. I started watch and read a little bit more and it apperas that dairy products not so good as we used to believe. Very confusing I must admit

  46. Is that true that in Sweden they use milk with added vitamin A then and this could be the reason why bonę fractures was most frequent? I mean bacause of vitamin and not because of milk itself?

  47. We would be very grateful if he could address how to manage conflicting advice given to our family by orthopedic surgeons and geneticists regarding OSTEOGENISIS IMPERFECTA and dairy. Three successive generations in our family have osteogenesis imperfecta Type 1 (so-called “Mild”). In each generation the OI is slightly worse, and our hearts break as our grandson’s legs break again and again.

    Every doctor, including our 5 year old grandson’s current doctors, have instructed us to feed him milk, cheese and all things dairy to boost his calcium. He has broken his legs 6 times in 5 years, starting with his first steps, and is currently spending this summer casted again. Our grandson is breaking his legs even though they have given him 2 series of pamidronate infusions.

    I am VEGAN and having a very hard time with this, but I have no study to show his local doctors, or to show to our son or our daughter-in-law, for that matter.

    His parents need to see legitimate evidence-based research about dairy, osteoclasts, osteoblasts and it’s relationship to Osteogenesis Imperfecta, before they stop following their specialists’ advice, in order to show our local doctors better information about giving our grandson dairy. So far, we have not found any studies supporting the removal of dairy for people with Osteogenesis Imperfecta.

    After reading your book How Not To Die, your website articles and videos and hearing you speak at the ICNM conference last summer, I know that if there is anyone who can find studies on osteogenesis imperfecta and dairy, it is YOU, Dr. Greger.

    Your help would be so much appreciated.

  48. HELP!!
    At the age of 40 I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis. My endocrinologist told me that I obviously didn’t consume enough dairy or drink enough milk as a child and that a male at 40 should never have this. I was referred to a specialist who wanted to put me on medications. Initially it was thought I may have had Imperfecta, however this was ruled out after genetic testing. I had several fractures as a child and most recently have had stress fractures followed by bone marrow edema in my feet. 12 years later I have discovered the plant based lifestyle. I only went on the meds for about 6 months but came off of them after doing my own research and reading. Can I improve my bone density? I gave up all meat 3 years ago and for almost a year have eliminated all dairy and do my best not to consume any oil. Any insight would be appreciated. I can’t tell you how down this gets me at times. Thanks

    1. Hi, MED5031! Since your bone health issues predated your switch to a plant-based lifestyle, it is unlikely that it is to blame. Countries such as the US with the highest dairy intake also have the highest fracture rates. Following the Daily Dozen and engaging in weight-bearing exercise should help you build bone mass. If you are underweight, gaining some weight may also benefit your bones. You can find everything on this site related to osteoporosis here: and everything related more generally to bone health here: I hope that helps!

  49. What about the galactose found in plants? Does it have similar effects? Is it different from the kind found in milk?
    If it’s the same, are there co-dependencies with other nutrients?
    Like with fructose which is bad in processed form (HFCS) but not a problem in fruit?

    Thanks in advance

  50. Is there a difference between fortified foods such as fortified oat milk or soy milk, tofu or bread etc and taking supplements? Should I be looking to use these or avoid fortified foods?

  51. Louise,

    There is indeed a difference in the two. Fortified foods typically use organoleptic options and are specifically designed for the processing of the product. As an example, calcium carbonate, as their calcium source in the alternative milks. This has to do with its ability to be both integrated into foods easily as well as cost. Is it the only choice, not at all.

    Supplements on the other hand have a much wider option range both in terms of forms and delivery systems. If you were to go to the health food store you would find a number of chelated formats (those combined with an amino acid) of calcium along with the common calcium carbonate. These forms are typically more expensive and have a higher absorption factor.

    Fortified foods are not necessarily a bad or good item per se. It depends on a number of factors including the whole composition of the item. A good food will have both minimal processing and be as close to natural as possible, potentially be organic, low sodium and the list goes on. Eating as close to a naturally occurring food is generally best .

    For lots more information on fortification you might find the FDA site of interest, Specifically see paragraph A6….then choose appropriately.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

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