January 25, 2013

The Great Milk MythMost people believe that milk is a healthy food choice, but is this a marketing myth perpetuated by the dairy industry? There is a reason that a large number of people are lactose intolerant. The human body is not designed to digest lactose after weaning. Cow’s milk contains lactose, therefore many people cannot digest cow’s milk properly.

The dairy industry sponsors ‘research’ to convince the public that cows milk products are essential to a healthy diet. Much of this so-called research is far from scientific as it lacks objectivity and is designed primarily to perpetuate the myth. It is a form of marketing under the guise of scientific information and has been very successful at convincing people that drinking the milk of a large bovine animal is normal and healthy.

Milk Is Not Good For Your Bones

Drinking milk actually accelerates bone loss because the consumption of animal protein acidifies the body. To bring the pH back to normal, calcium is leached from the bones, neutralizing the acid 1. How much calcium you get in your diet is less important than the amount of calcium you can prevent from leaving your bones; this is the important factor in bone health 2.

Epidemiological studies show consistently that countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis (such as Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K.) are the countries with the highest level of milk consumption. Places where dairy products are consumed infrequently or not at all (such as Africa, China and Japan) have low rates of osteoporosis 3.

Consuming large amounts of calcium from dairy products will actually increase your risk of hip fractures, while no increased risk of fractures is observed if you get the same level of calcium from non-dairy sources 4 and 5.

Milk Is Unhealthy For Children

The dairy industry continues to push cow’s milk on children despite very strong evidence that dairy products are contributing to childhood illnesses, including type-1 diabetes. Dr Colin Campell, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University and director of the largest epidemiological study in history (see The China Study) states that:

“The depth and breadth of evidence now implicating cow’s milk as the cause of type-1 diabetes is overwhelming, even though the very complex details are not fully understood.”

Insulin-dependent diabetes (type-1 or childhood-onset diabetes) has been linked to dairy products since the late 1980’s 6 and drinking cow’s milk is well known to weaken the immune function in children, and can lead to problems with recurring infections 7.

A young age at introduction of dairy products and high milk consumption during childhood may increase the child’s risk of developing juvenile diabetes 8.

The milk protein – casein– is poorly digested, only breaking down into small chunks. These chunks get translocated into the blood where the body responds with an immune response as it recognises a foreign object. Since cow’s casein has an amino acid sequence similar to the amino acid sequence on the beta cells of the pancreas, the body produces antibodies which not only destroy the foreign cow’s casein cells, but can also attack your own pancreas, destroying your insulin producing cells.

Children who are raised on cow’s milk also have a lower IQ than children who are raised on mother’s milk 9. Human milk has the lowest level of casein per whey of any mammal and is geared towards brain development. Cow’s milk, in contrast, has a high level of casein per whey and is geared towards muscle development. Furthermore, consider the following quotes from the leading Paediatric journals:

“We should strive to use foods . . . that meet the nutrient needs of the older infant . . . yet avoid toxicity. Cow milk simply does not meet this standard of quality” 10.

“Babies who are fed whole cow’s milk during the second six months of life may experience a 30% increase in intestinal blood loss and a significant loss of iron in their stools” 11.

Cow’s milk can cause internal bleeding because cow milk protein – casein – is so hard to digest. To compensate, the stomach is made much more acidic than normal, which may cause irritation and bleeding in young intestines. This can also happen to adults.

Milk Is Unhealthy For Adults

Ovarian cancer and female fertility problems have been linked to cow’s milk. When dairy product consumption exceeds the body’s capacity to break down galactose (milk sugar), there is a build-up of galactase (the enzyme used to break down milk sugar) in the blood which affects woman’s ovaries 12. Where per-capita milk consumption is highest, women tend to experience the sharpest age-related falloff in fertility 13.

Adults who consume large quantities of cow’s milk have a greater likelihood of developing senile cataracts 14.  Since humans (like all mammals) lose the ability to properly break down milk sugars after they are weaned, galactose molecules get stored in the skin, eyes and cornea, causing cataracts.

Many diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, Q-fever, and gastroenteritis are transmissible by milk products. 15 Milk is an excellent vehicle of infection because its fat content protects pathogens from gastric acid, and, being fluid, it has a relatively short gastric transit time 16.

There is evidence that Leukemia and Multiple sclerosis may also be linked to cow’s milk consumption 17.  Studies linking cow’s milk to other medical illnesses are consistently being reported. Although beyond the scope of this article, associations with milk have been found in the following conditions, as well as those already mentioned:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Tension headaches
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Hyperactivity
  • Allergies and congestion
  • Asthma and respiratory difficulties
  • Early atherosclerosis from oxidized cholesterol and coronary artery disease
  • Acne
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Neuralgic diseases (e.g. Lou Gehrig’s disease)

In conclusion, the great milk myth is perpetuated by pseudoscientific marketing campaigns over many decades. Touted as a health food, milk is precisely the opposite – causing a vast array of illnesses. The only type of animal milk that the human body is well adapted to cope with is that of it’s own species, and even then only up to the period of weaning.



1. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995; 61 (4)

2. Neal Barnard, M.D., Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, Understanding Health, December, 1999

3. The China Study; T. Colin Campbell, PhD; 2006

4. 12-year Harvard study of 78,000 women. American Journal of Public Health 1997;87

5. American Journal of Epidemiology 1994;139

6. Diabetes Care VOL. 14, NO. 11, November 1991

7. Nature 1978; 272 5654:632

8. Diabetologia 1994; 37 (4):381-387

9. Current Paediatrics 2004; 14:2 pp 97-103

10. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 1993; 16 (1):2

11. Pediatrics 1992; 89 (6): 1105-1109

12. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov 2004 vol. 80 no. 5 1353-1357

13. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1994, 139 (3): 282-289

14. Postgraduate Medicine 1994; 95 (1):115

15. Journal of Dairy Science 1988; 71: 2809-2816

16. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1984; 252: 2048-2052

17. American Journal of Veterinary Research 1995; 56 4: 445-449

8 Responses to “The Great Milk Myth”

  1. Mad As Heck:
    February 26, 2013

    The dairy industry has a lot to answer for! What they’re doing is totally wrong!

  2. Gregory:
    February 27, 2013

    Let’s face it, this sort of stuff is swept under the rug here in New Zealand for one reason – our economy depends on the dairy industry. Way too much money is caught up with farming groups who have major clout, and they cannot be criticized without it being basically considered unpatriotic. I hate to say it but I don’t know when statistics like these will ever really change people’s minds simply because even the average Kiwi doesn’t want to think our biggest breadwinner might need to be done away with. Milk is money in NZ and money decides everything.

  3. VeganBeast:
    March 28, 2014

    I agree with Gregory has said. People here in NZ are very concerned that the economy is dependent on diary industry. The Evil Empire (Fonterra) continues to insist they are the reason NZ is on the map… the time has come for the Empire to Fall!

  4. Mark:
    March 31, 2014

    I’ve been researching heavily into dairy products and their relation to health for years now, and this article is pretty much spot on. Since I gave up dairy I removed a myriad of health problems practically overnight, so I know first-hand how damaging this stuff is. However, there’s money to be made, and the marketing machine is powerful!

  5. Carls:
    June 9, 2014

    Truly. I’ve wasted 18 minutes of teaching time opening milk for 5 year olds as part of Fontera’s milk in schools. Not to mention the extra 4 minutes to fold the containers and this evening I washed down my steps of all the drippy milk. Waste of time gir what – inner ear infections? I’ve got the stuff on the class carpet and it stinks. Not to mention it’s uht milk and the cartons are shipped to Thailand for recycling. As if the dairy industry didn’t have a big enough carbon footprint. Not happy.

  6. Um:
    July 24, 2014

    Wow I don’t think that Fonterra is to blame for this! Every country in the World drinks milk… as we have been for 1000s of years… I think you guys do need to think about that. Also there is plenty of information such as this out there and some people choose to avoid dairy some don’t, the consumers set the demand for products not the company or its workers! There are thousands of other products on the market shelves that are as bad if not worse than milk, think of all the preservatives, colourings, sugars etc that are in food we buy, they are not good for us yet you don’t see people having a go at the rice cracker industry or whatever. Im sorry but I am quite annoyed at you people having a go at a company that is just doing as ANY other big company is, and to be honest there carbon footprint is probably smaller than most other ‘factories’ as people like you seem to have a vendetta against them, for something PEOPLE of EVERY COUNTRY want not just NZ if you don’t think people should drink milk thats your bloody decision, if you want to tell people about it, fine, I was told about this years ago, I have read articles since but I DO NOT agree with you BLAMING a company for producing a product that NZ and the WORLD use on a daily basis. THINK about all the other companies that produce food, clothing, equipment etc that have/use harmful chemicals, pesticides and food agents (aka everything) go blame chocolate makers for making people fat, or McDonalds, you say that Fonterra has a lot to answer for? For what? Go and ask McDonalds to stop killing people with its fatty foods (that last for years – surely thats bloody worse than natural milk). You’re pathetic people looking to blame a company because its been on TV if only ALL COMPANIES were watched as close as Fonterra the stuff we would reconsider.

  7. Kim Newton:
    March 28, 2016

    I cannot digest cows milk, drank pints as a teenager and had continuous mucus in my throat. Don’t have the mucus anymore once I stopped all this. The magnesium to calcium ratio is too low and you will end up with major magnesium deficiencies with dairy products. Better to have nuts and vegetables like kale and broccoli for magnesium and calcium. And fish with small bones e g sardines, herrings for calcium if not vegan. The ads say strong bones when the opposite is true. And dairy products are too high in protein and saturated fat making you grow too fast and looking like a huge calf!!

  8. Kim Newton:
    March 28, 2016

    To Um Cadburys chocolate now states eat 6 pieces daily and its a treat it says on packet. There has been a lot about MacDonald’s lately causing health problems. Sugar is getting a lot of attention lately and pesticides in foods that you mention are all really getting looked at too. Ps Milk is not that natural anymore because its homogenised which kills some of the fat soluble vitamins and pasteurisation kills the gut friendly bacteria enzymes as well. Raw organic milk is more natural. Also if the animals are feed hormones and antibiotics they get passed on to you. Also the animals need to be feed grass natural foods, Milk is a natural food for calves but is not designed for humans nutritionally

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