By Maneka Gandhi*
For twenty years I have been writing and warning against drinking milk. It causes all kinds of diseases – from acne to breast cancer. It is made in such a way that it causes the maximum amount of suffering to animals and ofcourse it is the main reason for the existence of slaughterhouses.
I could go on and on – with so much scientific data that anyone applying their mind to it would immediately stop. But it has had no effect at all. Not only do people keep on drinking milk, but doctors who should know their science, keep prescribing it for those ailments that it has caused in the first place! Ulcers, hyperacidity, calcium deficiency, early puberty, osteoporosis, menopause to name a few.
Not only do people drink it but it is the ultimate placebo. More than 75% of milk available in India is fake – and yet people drink that and feel equally good – even though they have ingested a combination of urea, paint, pond water and fat.
Celebrities, who refuse to appear in cola and alcohol ads, are happy to participate in milk endorsements. Jain Munis who cover their mouth to prevent even germs from entering and being killed propagate milk religiously. In many countries governments promote milk drinking as a means to get strong bones. When I lobbied to get the red and green dots on to food, I was only successful because I let milk be declared vegetarian. Meat eaters often argue that vegetarians get as much cancer, diabetes and other diseases as they do – and it is almost impossible to convince them that it is because they substitute milk and its products for meat.
If you don’t believe me because I am not a doctor – I promise you I have done more research into milk than have any doctors in India – at least listen to this study printed in the premier medical periodical in the world , The British Medical Journal.
The Journal has released a study of one lakh Swedes followed over a period of more than twenty years. Their milk drinking habits and health have been catalogued by scientists in two separate studies. The study was carried out by researchers from Uppsala University, the Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish National Food Agency in Sweden.
What were the findings? That people who drink milk die much earlier than people who don’t. In short Milk Drinking is related to Early Deaths. And what happens while they are alive? Frequent drinkers not only do NOT have strong bones, but they break their bones much more often due to brittleness, than people who do not drink milk. What do they die of? Researchers say that frequent drinkers die of heart disease and cancer.
Women are more vulnerable. Drinking milk has been linked to increased bone and hip fractures. Bone fractures in general – compared to the entire population of Sweden – showed an increase of 16%. And when compared to women who did not drink milk, showed an increase of 60% ! Drinking any more than 200 gm of milk daily (less than one glass) was linked to increased risk of dying ranging from 21% for one to two glasses to an increased risk of 93% for three or more.
Milk has high quantities of a sugar called D Galactose. Scientists believe that it causes bone inflammation, which normally comes with age, causing your bones to become more brittle.
Research shows that galactose has an adverse effect on animals suggesting it is associated with ageing, with observations including oxidative stress (where damage occurs at the molecular level) to tissues, and changes to gene activity and the immune system. A dose of 100mg/kg of D-galactose has been shown to accelerate biological signs of ageing in mice, which is equivalent to 6 to 10 gm in humans, or the amount found in one to two glasses of milk.
Karl Michaelsson, a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden and one of the study’s authors, told Live Science, “…if you provide galactose to experimental animals, they will die faster by induction of oxidative stress and inflammation.” The researchers therefore wanted to test their theory that a high consumption of milk may increase oxidative stress and inflammation in humans, and so increase the risk of mortality and fracture. They found that humans fare no better.
Does milk build strong bones? There is no scientific evidence to support it. In fact there are thousands of studies to say that it has no effect on bones at all – inspite of its calcium. David Ludwig, a Harvard professor of nutrition, noted in a 2013 scientific publication there is little evidence to support the commonly held assumption that milk is the key to building strong bones. Humans in countries where milk drinking is not a norm (in spite of the advertising) have as good bones, in fact.
No doubt the dairy lobby which is vast and very powerful will be quick to trash this report (and they have already started) saying that it does not take into consideration the lifestyle of the 100,000 + people in the study; smoking, drinking, stress, other foods, lifestyle, environmental factors etc. But the study did take these into consideration. In both studies, the food frequency surveys questioned up to 96 foods and drinks consumed over the past year, including how many servings of the item per day or per week. The researchers adjusted their analyses for many factors, including age, body mass index (BMI), total energy intake, healthy dietary pattern, calcium and vitamin D supplementation, and physical activity levels.
The researchers assessed the risk of mortality or fracture according to categories of milk intake (less than 200 gm per day, 200-399 gm per day, 400-599 gm per day, and 600 gm per day or more) and for each additional 200 gm of milk per day corresponding to each additional glass of milk. They also looked at the effects of other dairy items, such as cheese and fermented milk products.
The women’s study consumed, on average, 240 gm milk per day, and the men 290 gm – around one to two glasses a day. During an average 22 years of follow-up, 15,541 women died (25% of the cohort), with a third of these deaths as a result of cardiovascular disease and a fifth related to cancer. In the women’s study, 17,252 had a fracture (28%) during follow-up, while in the men’s study, 5,379 had a fracture (12%).
The men were followed for an average of 13 years, during which time 10,112 died (22% of the subjects), with just under half of these deaths as a result of cardiovascular disease and just over a quarter caused by cancer.
According to the study, the least harmful product of milk for the bone is yoghurt. But there are so many plant based alternatives to milk like soya, almond, hemp and rice milk.
65% of the world – including every Indian, African, Chinese and Asian – is lactose intolerant; which means that you are drinking/eating a product that is already bad for you. Yoghurt, or curd as we call it, has the least amount of lactose which is why lactose intolerant humans can bear it.
Milk is the only beverage still aggressively pushed on children as a health promoting food when it is the exact opposite. The dairy industry has been hard at work for 50 years convincing people that pasteurized dairy products increase calcium levels. Actually the pasteurization process only creates calcium carbonate, which has absolutely no way of entering the cells without a chelating agent like magnesium. So what the body does is pull the calcium from the bones and other tissues in order to buffer the calcium carbonate in the blood. This process actually causes osteoporosis.
Pasteurized dairy contains too little magnesium needed at the proper ratio to absorb the calcium. Scientists agree that a minimum amount of Calcium to Magnesium Ratio is 2 to 1 and preferably 1 to 1. So milk, at a Cal/Mag ratio of 10 to 1, has a problem. You may put 1200 mg of dairy calcium in your mouth, but you will be lucky to actually absorb a third of it into your system.
Milk is pushed on westerners from birth yet people from the USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand have the highest rates of osteoporosis.
The test for pasteurization is called the negative alpha phosphatase test. When milk has been heated to 165 degrees and pasteurization is complete, the enzyme phosphatase is 100 percent destroyed. This is the enzyme that is critical for the absorption of minerals including calcium!
The National Dairy Council would like you to believe, “There is no evidence that protein-rich foods such as dairy foods adversely impact calcium balance or bone health.” But these same dairy people state elsewhere, “Excess dietary protein, particularly purified proteins, increases urinary calcium excretion. This calcium loss could potentially cause negative calcium balance, leading to bone loss and osteoporosis. These effects have been attributed to an increased endogenous acid load created by the metabolism of protein, which requires neutralization by alkaline salts of calcium from bone.”
Don’t drink milk. Have fruit instead.
*About the author: Maneka Sanjay Gandhi is a Member of Parliament and leader of animal welfare movement in India. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org