Milk: Does It Do a Body Good?

By Joel Fuhrman, M.D. www.drfuhrman.com

Recent Research Sheds A Very Bad Light On Dairy Consumption.

Parkinson’s Disease

Recent studies have shown that men who consume more dairy products and who are big milk drinkers have a higher occurrence of Parkinson’s disease.

Honglei Chen, M.D., of Harvard University reported his findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition (December 2004) and presented a few other studies, one of which was the Parkinson’s Disease Honolulu Study, that showed the same association. The interesting finding was that it was not the fat in milk and dairy that were implicated. Usually, the high saturated fat content of dairy is blamed for its disease risk. But in this case, according to Chen, fat was “out of the picture.” Calcium and added vitamin D also were unrelated. That means something else in dairy is the culprit. The relationship between Parkinson’s and milk consumption has been suspected for decades1 and was first reported by researchers a few years ago. Chen’s and other recent prospective studies have confirmed the earlier, less definitive findings.

Heart Disease

A related recent finding is that deaths from heart disease also are strongly associated with milk drinking in adulthood. Of particular interest is that (as is the case with Parkinson’s) the association is with the non-fat portion of milk. Non-fat and skim milk consumption shows the same association as that of whole milk. Researchers found that heart disease death is strongly associated with circulating antibodies against milk.These antibodies are found to bind to human lymphocytes and platelets, thus increasing the likelihood of clot formation. The researchers also concluded that the non-fat aspects of milk have atherogenic effects (plaque-building) both biochemical and immunological, and the simultaneous attack from all these directions explains why milk was found to have such a strong effect on death rate.2

Ovarian Cancer

A recent study of 61,000 women found that those who consumed more than 2 glasses of milk per day had twice the risk of serous ovarian cancer than women who consumed fewer than two glasses. The risk of those who drank two glasses a day was double that of women who rarely drank milk.3 Lactose in milk seemed to be the primary culprit. Again this larger study confirms earlier studies with the same findings.

References:

1. Chen H, Zhang SM, Hernan MA, Willett WC, Ascherio A. Diet and Parkinson’s disease: a potential role of dairy products in men. Ann Neurol 2002 Dec;52(6):793-801.

2. Moss M, Freed D. The cow and the coronary: epidemiology, biochemistry and immunology. Int J Cardiol 2003;87(2-3):203-216.

3. Larsson SC, Bergkvist L, Wolk A. Milk and lactose intakes and ovarian cancer risk in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(5):1353-1357.

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