from Bruce Friedrich -
The following just went up on
www.MilkSucks.com re: milk and
osteoporosis. The link is easier on the eyes and has some quotes that
I've moved to the bottom of this page.
"The myth that osteoporosis is caused by calcium
deficiency was created
to sell dairy products and calcium supplements. There's no truth to it.
American women are among the biggest consumers of calcium in the world,
and they still have one of the highest levels of osteoporosis in the
And eating even more dairy products and calcium supplements is not
going to change that fact."
~ Dr. John McDougall, The McDougall Program for Women (2000)
Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease characterized by
low bone mass and deteriorating bone tissue that affects tens of
millions of Americans and causes 1.5 million fractures annually. The
annual cost of treatment totals more than $10 billion. While some people
suffering from osteoporosis experience recurring back pain, loss of
height, and spinal deformities, many don't even know they have the
disease until a bone fracture occurs.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one
in two women over the age of 50, and one in eight men, will experience
an osteoporosis-related fracture.
The dairy industry has a powerful hold on the nutrition
industry in this country; it pays huge numbers of dietitians, doctors,
and researchers to push dairy, spending more than $300 million annually,
just at the national level, to retain a market for its products. The
dairy industry has infiltrated schools, bought off sports stars,
celebrities, and politicians, pushing all the while an agenda based on
profit, rather than public health.
Dr. Walter Willett, a veteran nutrition researcher at
the Harvard School of Public Health, says that calcium consumption "has
become like a religious crusade," overshadowing true preventive measures
such as physical exercise. To hear the dairy industry tell it, if you
consume three glasses of milk daily, your bones will be stronger, and
you can rest safely knowing that osteoporosis is not in your future.
Despite the dairy industry funding study after study to
try to prove its claims, Dr. John McDougall, upon examining all the
available nutritional studies and evidence, concludes: "The primary
cause of osteoporosis is the high-protein diet most Americans consume
today. As one leading researcher in this area said, '[E]ating a
high-protein diet is like pouring acid rain on your bones.'" Remarkably
enough, if dairy has any effect, both clinical and population evidence
strongly implicate dairy in causing, rather than preventing,
osteoporosis. That the dairy industry would lull unsuspecting women and
children into complacency by telling them, essentially, drink more milk
and your bones will be fine, may make good business sense, but it does
the public a grave disservice.
Most of the world's peoples do not consume cow's milk,
and yet most of the world does not experience the high rates of
osteoporosis found in the West. In Asian countries, for example, where
consumption of dairy foods is low (and where women tend to be thin and
small-boned, universally accepted risk factors for osteoporosis),
fracture rates are much lower than they are in the United States and in
Scandinavian countries, where consumption of dairy products is
But don't take our word for it; examine the science for
One study, funded by the National Dairy Council,
involved giving a group of postmenopausal women three 8-ounce glasses of
skim milk per day for two years and comparing their bones to those of a
control group of women not given the milk. The dairy group consumed
1,400 mg of calcium per day
and lost bone at twice the rate of the control group. According to the
researchers, "This may have been due to the average 30 percent increase
in protein intake during milk supplementation ... The adverse effect of
increases in protein intake on calcium balance has been reported from
several laboratories, including our own" (they then cite 10 other
studies). Says McDougall, "Needless to say, this finding did not reach
the six o'clock news."
After looking at 34 published studies in 16 countries,
researchers at Yale University found that countries with the highest
rates of osteoporosis "including the United States, Sweden, and Finland"
are those in which people consume the most meat, milk, and other animal
foods. This study also showed that African Americans, who consume, on
average, more than 1,000 mg of calcium per day, are nine times more
likely to experience hip fractures than are South African blacks, whose
daily calcium intake is only 196 mg. Says McDougall, "[O]n a
nation-by-nation basis, people who consume the most calcium have the
weakest bones and the highest rates of osteoporosis. ... Only in those
places where calcium and
protein are eaten in relatively high quantities does a deficiency of
bone calcium exist, due to an excess of animal protein."
Harvard University's landmark Nurses Health Study, which
followed 78,000 women over a 12-year period, found that the women who
consumed the most calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those
who rarely drank milk. Summarizing this study, the Lunar Osteoporosis
Update (November 1997) explained: "This increased risk of hip fracture
was associated with dairy calcium." If this were any agent other than
milk, which has been so aggressively marketed by dairy interests, it
undoubtedly would be considered a major risk factor."
A National Institutes of Health study out of the
University of California, published in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition (2001), found that "Women who ate most of their protein from
animal sources had three times the rate of bone loss and 3.7 times the
rate of hip fractures of women who
ate most of their protein from vegetable sources." Even though the
researchers adjusted "for everything we could think of that might
otherwise explain the relationship - it didn't change the results." The
study's conclusion: "[A]n increase in vegetable protein intake and a
decrease in animal protein intake may decrease bone loss and the risk of
Another study published in the American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition (2000) looked at all aspects of diet and bone health
and found that high consumption of fruits and vegetables positively
affect bone health and that dairy consumption did not. Such findings do
not surprise nutritional researchers: According to Dr. Neal Barnard,
author of Turn Off the Fat Genes (2001) and several other books on diet
and health, the calcium absorption from vegetables is as good as or
better than that from milk. Calcium absorption
from milk is approximately 30 percent, while figures for broccoli,
Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, and some other
leafy green vegetables range between 40 percent and 64 percent.
After reviewing studies on the link between protein
intake and urinary calcium loss, nutritional researcher Robert P. Heaney
found that as consumption of protein increases, so does the amount of
calcium lost in the urine (Journal of the American Dietetic Association,
1993): "This effect has been documented in several different study
designs for more than 70 years," he writes, adding, "[T]he net effect is
such that if protein intake is doubled without changing intake of other
nutrients, urinary calcium content increases by about 50 percent."
Researchers from the University of Sydney and Westmead
Hospital discovered that consumption of dairy foods, especially early in
life, increases the risk of hip fractures in old age (American Journal
of Epidemiology, 1994).
Finally, an analysis of all research conducted since
1985, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000),
concluded: "If dairy food intakes confer bone health, one might expect
this to have been apparent from the 57 outcomes, which included
randomized, controlled trials and longitudinal cohort studies involving
645,000 person-years." The researchers go on to lament that "there have
been few carefully designed studies of the effects of dairy foods on
bone health," and then to conclude with
typical scientific reserve that "the body of scientific evidence appears
inadequate to support a recommendation for daily intake of dairy foods
to promote bone health in the general U.S. population."
What we do know is that osteoporosis rates decline
markedly as body weight, exercise, and caloric intake rise.
Corroborating the researchers' lament about bad studies, only three
studies have factored caloric intake into the analysis; two of them
found no correlation between dairy intake and osteoporosis. The other
found a positive link; that is, the more milk consumed, the higher the
fracture risk (Harvard Nurses Study, see above).
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000) study
cited above argued that since we know for certain that total caloric
intake and body weight are positively associated with bone mass, such
factors are "particularly important" in any study of osteoporosis and
Is the dairy industry ignoring these factors by design
in its clinical studies, perhaps because dairy consumers tend to be
heavier and to consume more calories than those consuming fewer (or no)
dairy products? It is remarkable that the dairy industry can't get the
results it's looking for, since dairy consumption does tend to make
people heavier. Even though dairy researchers ignore this factor, most
studies still show no relationship, and some indicate that milk causes
osteoporosis. If the tendencies of those who consume more dairy to be
heavier and to consume more calories were accounted for, would the
studies indicating no link show, in fact, that dairy intake causes
osteoporosis, like the Harvard School of Public Health study? That would
bring clinical analysis into line with the population analysis,
which clearly states that increased dairy consumption is linked to
increased risk for osteoporosis.
So what can I do for strong bones? Osteoporosis is a
horrible disease, and although the evidence is strong that dairy
consumption doesn't prevent it, simply eliminating dairy products does
not ensure that it won't afflict you. And if, like most people who
consume no meat or dairy, you are slender, you should be sure to put
some thought (and effort) into keeping your bones healthy.
What the evidence does dictate as useful for strong
* Getting enough vitamin D (if you don't spend any time in the sun, be
sure to take a supplement or eat fortified foods).
* Eliminating animal protein (for a variety of reasons, animal protein
causes severe bone deterioration).
* Limiting alcohol consumption (alcohol is toxic to the cells that form
bones and inhibits the absorption of calcium).
* Limiting salt intake (sodium leaches calcium out of the bones).
* Not smoking (studies have shown that women who smoke one pack of
cigarettes a day have 5 to 10 percent less bone density at menopause
* Getting plenty of exercise. Studies have concluded that physical
exercise is the key to building strong bones (more important than any
other factor). For example, a study published in the British Medical
Journal, which followed 1,400 men and women over a 15-year period, found
that exercise may be the best protection against hip fractures and that
"reduced intake of dietary calcium does not seem to be a risk factor."
And Penn State University researchers found that bone density is
significantly affected by how much exercise girls get during their teen
years, when 40 to 50 percent of their skeletal mass is developed.
Consistent with previous research, the Penn State study, which was
published in Pediatrics (2000), the journal of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, showed that calcium intake, which ranged from 500 to 1,500
mg per day, has no lasting effect on bone health. "We (had) hypothesized
that increased calcium intake would result in better adolescent bone
gain. Needless to say, we were surprised to find our hypothesis
refuted," one researcher explained.
Drinking milk builds dairy producers' profits, but as
the above studies show, it's more likely to harm your bones than to help
them. And dairy foods are linked to all sorts of other problems,
including obesity, heart disease and cancer (including breast cancer and
prostate cancer and are likely to be contaminated with trace levels of
antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals, including dioxin, one of the
most toxic substances known to humans (The Washington Post reported that
"the latest EPA study concludes that people who consume even small
amounts of dioxin in fatty foods and dairy products face a cancer risk
of 1 in 100. They may also develop other problems, such as attention
disorder, learning disabilities, susceptibility to infections and liver
disorders" (April 12, 2001).
Of course, calcium is an essential mineral, and it is
possible to have a calcium deficiency. According to Dr. Neal Barnard,
president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, "Milk,
in particular, is poor insurance against bone breaks - the healthiest
calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes. You don't need
to eat huge servings of vegetables or beans to get enough calcium, but
do include both in your regular menu planning. If you are looking for
extra calcium, fortified orange, apple, or grapefruit juices are good
choices." For a list of nondairy calcium sources, see .
It makes no more sense for humans to consume the
mother's milk of cows than for us to consume the mother's milk of rats,
cats, dogs, giraffes, or any other mammal. Nature created human mother's
milk for baby humans, cow mother's milk for baby cows, and so on.
The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, in Baby and Child Care (the
United States' best selling book, other than the Bible, over the past 50
years), after recommending that no one consume cow's milk and cataloging
a host of ills associated with milk consumption (heart disease, cancer,
obesity, antibiotic residue, iron deficiency, asthma, ear infections,
skin conditions, stomach aches, bloating, and diarrhea), concludes: "In
nature, animals do not drink milk after infancy, and that is the normal
pattern for humans, too. Children stay in better calcium balance when
their protein comes from plant sources." Dr. Spock recommends human
mother's milk for baby humans, as nature intended.
To learn more about dairy foods and osteoporosis, please
visit these sites:
* The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, "Protecting Your
* The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, "Preventing and
* "Sorting Through the Calcium Myths "
* "Calcium and Bone Disease "
* "O = Osteoporosis "
* Dr. John McDougall's recommendations for preventing osteoporosis
* "The Great American Milk Myth" by Dr. Charles Attwood
* Dr. T. Colin Campbell's findings from the "China
" (the world's largest population study) regarding osteoporosis
* "The Milk Letter: A Message to My Patients
," by Dr. Robert M. Kradjian
* "Breaking Some Bones
" (an examination of the dairy industry's control of public health
information), by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
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"It is hard to turn on the television without hearing
commercials suggesting that milk promotes strong bones. The commercials
do not point out that only 30 percent of milk's calcium is absorbed by
the body or that osteoporosis is common among milk drinkers. Nor do they
help you correct the real causes
of bone loss."
~ Dr. Neal Barnard
Says Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the world's leading
epidemiological researcher in the field of diet and health, "The dairy
folks, ever since the 1920s, have been enormously successful in
cultivating an environment within virtually all segments of our society
- from research and education to public relations
and politics - to have us believing that cow's milk and its products are
manna from heaven. Make no mistake about it; the dairy industry has been
virtually in total control of any and all public health information that
ever rises to the level of public scrutiny."
"The association between the intake of animal protein
and fracture rates appears to be as strong as the association between
cigarette smoking and lung cancer."
~ Dr. T. Colin Campbell
"Milk, it now seems clear, is not the solution to poor
bone density. To the contrary, it's part of the problem."
~ Dr. Charles Attwood
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