What's Wrong with Dairy Products?

Most Americans, including many vegetarians, still consume large amounts of dairy products. Here are ten reasons why it is a good idea to eliminate dairy products from one's menu.

One: Fat and Cholesterol

Dairy products contribute cholesterol and fat to one's diet. Cheese and ice cream are loaded with fat and cholesterol.1 Studies comparing the cardiovascular status of ovo-lacto-vegetarians and vegans have proven that while both are healthier than meat-eaters, vegans have better cardiovascular status than vegetarians who consume dairy products.2,3 Skim dairy products are considerably lower in fat; however, they retain the problems noted below.

Two: Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is more likely on a dairy-rich diet. Cows' milk products are very low in iron,1 thus, if they become a major part of one's diet, iron deficiency is more likely. In addition, clinical studies have shown that infants consuming cows' milk lose small amounts of blood from their digestive tracts.

Three: Diabetes

Insulin-dependent diabetes (Type I or childhood-onset) is linked to dairy products. Epidemiological studies of various countries show a strong correlation between the use of dairy products and the incidence of insulin- dependent diabetes.4 This is only an association, but researchers have long suspected that an autoimmune reaction is the cause of this disease. Some speculate that dairy protein may spark the reaction.

Four: Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is linked to dairy products. The milk sugar lactose is broken down in the body into another sugar, galactose. In turn, galactose is broken down further by enzymes. According to a study by Dr. Daniel Cramer and his colleagues at Harvard,5 when dairy product consumption exceeds the enzymes' capacity to break down galactose, there is a build-up of galactose in the blood, which may affect a woman's ovaries. Some women have particularly low levels of these enzymes, and when they consume dairy products on a regular basis, their risk of ovarian cancer can be triple that of other women. The problem is the milk sugar, not the milk fat, thus non-fat dairy products cannot solve this problem. In fact, yoghurt and cottage cheese seem to be of most concern because the bacteria used in their manufacture increase the production of galactose from lactose.

Five: Cataracts

Cataracts are also linked to dairy products.6 The galactose that is a breakdown product of lactose also appears to damage the lens of the eye, leading to cataracts. There are other factors which also contribute to cataracts, such as ultraviolet light.

Six: Lactose Intolerance

Many people, particularly Asians and Africans, are unable to digest the milk sugar, lactose. Diarrhea and gas can result. On the other hand, they may be the lucky ones. Many Caucasians can tolerate lactose, only to be unable to rapidly breakdown the galactose which circulates in their blood, possibly contributing to cataracts and ovarian cancer, as noted above. Lactose intolerance may be nature's early warning system.

Seven: Food Allergies

Milk is one of the most common food allergies. Respiratory problems, canker sores, skin conditions, and other subtle and not-so-subtle allergies can be caused by dairy products. The sad thing is that many people never know that they have a dairy sensitivity; they think that their problems are "normal." If they give themselves a break from dairy products, they might get a very pleasant surprise. Asthmatics, in particular, should give themselves a long vacation from dairy products to see whether their condition improves.

Eight: Toxins

Like other products from animals, breast secretions contain frequent contaminants, from pesticides to drugs. About a third of all milk products are contaminated with antibiotic traces. The dairy industry slogan "something for every body" takes on a different meaning doesn't it?

Nine: Osteoporosis

Dairy products, despite common myths, do not stop osteoporosis. Evidence shows that the rate of bone loss is largely unaffected by dairy products.7 Numerous studies have shown that the countries with the highest intake of dairy products also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis, and that consuming large amounts of diary products simply will not maintain bone density.

Ten: Colic

One out of every five babies suffers from colic. Pediatricians learned long ago that cows' milk was often the reason. We now know that breast- feeding mothers can have colicky babies if the mothers are consuming cow's milk. The cows' antibodies can pass through the mother's blood stream into her breast milk and to the baby.8


1. Pennington JAT, Church HN. Food values of portions commonly used. New York: Harper and Row, 1985.

2. Sacks FM, Ornish D, Rosner B, et al. Plasma lipoprotein levels in vegetarians: the effect of ingestion of fats from dairy products. JAMA 1985;254(10):1337-41.

3. Kestin M, Rouse IL, Correll RA, Nestel PJ. Cardiovascular disease risk factors in free-living men: comparison of two prudent diets, one based on lactoovovegetarianism and the other allowing lean meat. Am J Clin Nutr 1989;50:280-87.

4. Scott FW. Cow milk and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: is there a relationship? Am J Clin Nutr 1990;51:489-91.

5. Cramer DW, et al. Galactose consumption and metabolism in relation to the risk of ovarian cancer. Lancet 1989;2:66-71.

6. Simoons FJ. A geographic approach to senile cataracts: possible links with milk consumption, lactase activity, and galactose metabolism. Digestive Disease and Sciences 1982;27:257-64.

7. Kolata G. How important is dietary calcium in preventing osteoporosis? Science 1986;233:519-20.

8. Clyne PS, Kulczycki A. Human breast milk contains bovine IgG. Relationship to infant colic? PEDIATRICS 1991;87(4):439-444.


For more information, contact:

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

P.O. Box 6322

Washington, DC 20015

(202) 686-2210


Jonathan Esterhazy / Manitoba Animal Rights Coalition / jester@mail.cc.umanitoba.ca