Should Humans Be Drinking Cow's Milk?
By James Donahue
A few years back I remember reading
an interesting theory by a progressive nutritionist who suggested that people should not be drinking cow's
milk. His or her argument
then was that all mammals are fed mother's milk when they are newborns. After that, only humans continued the consumption
of milk and milk products. The author argued that it seemed unnatural that we were drinking food meant for baby calves.
was an interesting thought, but it did little to deter me then from continuing to enjoy the cultivated taste I had for cheese,
yogurt, ice cream and milk on my bowl of breakfast cereal.
I stopped consuming most milk products about a year or two
ago after Mad Cow Disease showed signs of being passed from species to species through the consumption of meat. It occurred
to me that milk products also might contain the deadly protein, or prion, now known to cause this frightening brain disorder.
Because the prion is not a living organism, it appears to be indestructible. Cooking and pasteurization will not eliminate
its deadly effects on the brain of any animal that consumes it. In my simple way of looking at things, it seems possible that
such a prion, once in the cow, might be passed on through the milk as well as the meat.
That was my position as early
as two years ago. But I seemed to be the only writer out here who thought that way.
Now a letter by T. Colin Campbell,
nutritional biochemist at Cornell University, claims that milk is not only unnatural for human consumption, he believes it
is outright dangerous.
After years of research, Campbell concludes that fats in dairy products not only can contribute
to hardening of the arteries and heart disease, he warns that the cow's exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, dioxins and bovine
growth hormones may be getting passed on to humans through milk and milk products.
A letter on Campbell's web site, (newcenturynutrition.com), which he claims the New York Times refused to publish, states the following:
"There is compelling evidence, now published in top scientific journals, showing that cows' milk is associated, possibly
even causally, with a wide variety of serious human ailments, including various cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes,
and an array of allergy related diseases. And, this food contains no nutrients that cannot be better obtained from other far
more nutritious and tasty foods."
After years of study Campbell said he not only questioned the health claims about
milk, but began to believe "cows' milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are
exposed, to say nothing of its other questionable effects on health. I am especially concerned about its effect on breast
cancer and other cancers of the reproductive tract."
"Research in our own laboratory at Cornell University, supported
by more than two decades of funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute
for Cancer Research, has produced findings to support this concern," the letter said. "These extensive findings, published
in the top scientific journals, show that cows' milk protein, for example, rather vigorously promotes tumor development in
experimental animal studies at consumption levels equivalent to that of human consumption. And when considering the remaining
nutrient composition of cows' milk, this observation on protein is made even more disturbing.
said milk and milk products are popular only in North America and Northern Europe where people of European descent seem to
possess a mutated gene that makes adults lactose tolerant. In other parts of the world, the enzyme that allows little children
to drink and digest mother's milk is not produced in the body once the child is weaned from the breast.
in the rest of the world have trouble digesting lactose. Some suffer from bloating, cramps or diarrhea if they try.
letter goes on to say that Campbell believes he "exercised over this issue because I spent many years doing research on this
and closely related topics and have acquired and spent millions of precious American tax dollars to pursue these interests."
He notes that he grew up on a dairy farm and clearly understands "the virtual religion surrounding this food" in the United
"The question is not whether we have air tight evidence on these disturbing observations. Rather, it is now
time to begin taking seriously this disturbing evidence in respect to its consistency, its comprehensiveness, its plausibility,
and its relevance for human health," Campbell wrote.
"Understandably, it is a difficult task to challenge such a popular
food, especially when promoted by an industry with virtually unlimited funding to pedal their product. I know very well this
difficulty, for I come from a background of dairy farming and graduate school training having indoctrinated me in the more
traditional point of view," he said.
"Nonetheless, it is now time, both within and beyond the professions, to begin
a serious dialogue to consider the worthiness of these observations.
"We must begin to seriously challenge, for example,
the massive school lunch program that mandates the cows' milk option, only to risk compromising the health of so many children
who are predisposed to allergenic and disease producing effects simply to satisfy a government subsidy. We can no longer afford
to be so constrained within a research funding environment that seriously limits an honest exploration of this issue. And
we can no longer tolerate a media that, for whatever reason, find it more acceptable to hide their own agenda at the expense
of public health."