Breast Cancer Truths and Dairy Lies
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From Robert M. Kradjian, MD
Breast Surgery Chief Division of General Surgery,
Seton Medical Centre #302 - 1800 Sullivan Ave.
Daly City, CA 94015 USA


I hate to tell you this, but the bovine leukemia virus is found in more than three of five dairy cows in the United States! This involves about 80% of dairy herds. Unfortunately, when the milk is pooled, a very large percentage of all milk produced is contaminated (90 to 95 per cent). Of course the virus is killed in pasteurisation--if the pasteurisation was done correctly. What if the milk is raw? In a study of randomly collected raw milk samples the bovine leukemia virus was recovered from two-thirds. I sincerely hope that the raw milk dairy herds are carefully monitored when compared to the regular herds. (Science 1981; 213:1014).

This is a world-wide problem. One lengthy study from Germany deplored the problem and admitted the impossibility of keeping the virus from infected cows' milk from the rest of the milk. Several European countries, including Germany and Switzerland, have attempted to "cull" the infected cows from their herds. Certainly the United States must be the leader in the fight against leukemic dairy cows, right? Wrong! We are the worst in the world with the former exception of Venezuela according to Virgil Hulse MD, a milk specialist who also has a B.S. in Dairy Manufacturing as well as a Master's degree in Public Health.

As mentioned, the leukemia virus is rendered inactive by pasteurisation. Of course. However, there can be Chernobyl like accidents. One of these occurred in the Chicago area in April, 1985. At a modern, large, milk processing plant an accidental "cross connection" between raw and pasteurised milk occurred. A violent salmonella outbreak followed, killing 4 and making an estimated 150,000 ill. Now the question I would pose to the dairy industry people is this: "How can you assure the people who drank this milk that they were not exposed to the ingestion of raw, unkilled, bully active bovine leukemia viruses?" Further, it would be fascinating to know if a "cluster" of leukemia cases blossoms in that area in 1 to 3 decades. There are reports of "leukemia clusters" elsewhere, one of them mentioned in the June 10, 1990 San Francisco Chronicle involving No. California.

What happens to other species of mammals when they are exposed to the bovine leukemia virus? It's a fair question and the answer is not reassuring. Virtually all animals exposed to the virus develop leukemia. This includes sheep, goats, and even primates such as rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees. The route of transmission includes ingestion (both intravenous and intramuscular) and cells present in milk. There are obviously no instances of transfer attempts to human beings, but we know that the virus can infect human cells in vitro. There is evidence of human antibody formation to the bovine leukemia virus; this is disturbing. How did the bovine leukemia virus particles gain access to humans and become antigens? Was it as small, denatured particles?

If the bovine leukemia viruses causes human leukemia, we could expect the dairy states with known leukemic herds to have a higher incidence of human leukemia. Is this so? Unfortunately, it seems to be the case! Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin have statistically higher incidence of leukemia than the national average. In Russia and in Sweden, areas with uncontrolled bovine leukemia virus have been linked with increases in human leukemia. I am also told that veterinarians have higher rates of leukemia than the general public. Dairy farmers have significantly elevated leukemia rates. Recent research shows lymphocytes from milk fed to neonatal mammals gains access to bodily tissues by passing directly through the intestinal wall.

An optimistic note from the University of Illinois, Ubana from the Department of Animal Sciences shows the importance of one's perspective. Since they are concerned with the economics of milk and not primarily the health aspects, they noted that the production of milk was greater in the cows with the bovine leukemia virus. However when the leukemia produced a persistent and significant lymphocytosis (increased white blood cell count), the production fell off. They suggested "…a need to re-evaluate the economic impact of bovine leukemia virus infection on the dairy industry". Does this mean that leukemia is good for profits only if we can keep it under control? You can get the details on this business concern from Proc. Nat. Acad. Sciences, U.S. Feb. 1989. I added emphasis and am insulted that a university department feels that this is an economic and not a human health issue. Do not expect help from the Department of Agriculture or the universities. The money stakes and the political pressures are too great. You're on you own.

What does this all mean? We know that virus is capable of producing leukemia in other animals. Is it proven that it can contribute to human leukemia (or lymphoma, a related cancer)? Several articles tackle this one:

1."Epidemiologic Relationships of the Bovine Population and Human Leukemia in Iowa". Am Journal of Epidemiology 112 (1980): 80

2."Milk of Dairy Cows Frequently Contains a Leukemogenic Virus". Science 213 (1981): 1014 3."Beware of the Cow". (Editorial) Lancet 2 (1974):30

4."Is Bovine Milk A Health Hazard?". Pediatrics; Suppl. Feeding the Normal Infant. 75:182-186; 1985

In Norway, 1422 individuals were followed for 11 and a half years. Those drinking 2 or more glasses of milk per day had 3.5 times the incidence of cancer of the lymphatic organs. British Med. Journal 61:456-9, March 1990.

One of the more thoughtful articles on this subject is from Allan S. Cunningham of Cooperstown, New York. Writing in the Lancet, November 27, 1976 (page 1184), his article is entitled, "Lymphomas and Animal-Protein Consumption". Many people think of milk as "liquid meat" and Dr. Cunningham agrees with this. He tracked the beef and dairy consumption in terms of grams per day for a one year period, 1955-1956., in 15 countries . New Zealand, United States and Canada were highest in that order. The lowest was Japan followed by Yugoslavia and France. The difference between the highest and lowest was quite pronounced: 43.8 grams/day for New Zealanders versus 1.5 for Japan. Nearly a 30-fold difference! (Parenthetically, the last 36 years have seen a startling increase in the amount of beef and milk used in Japan and their disease patterns are reflecting this, confirming the lack of "genetic protection" seen in migration studies. Formerly the increase in frequency of lymphomas in Japanese people was only in those who moved to the USA)!

An interesting bit of trivia is to note the memorial built at the Gyokusenji Temple in Shimoda, Japan. This marked the spot where the first cow was killed in Japan for human consumption! The chains around this memorial were a gift from the US Navy. Where do you suppose the Japanese got the idea to eat beef? The year? 1930.

Cunningham found a highly significant positive correlation between deaths from lymphomas and beef and dairy ingestion in the 15 countries analysed. A few quotations from his article follow:

The average intake of protein in many countries is far in excess of the recommended requirements. Excessive consumption of animal protein may be one co-factor in the causation of lymphomas by acting in the following manner. Ingestion of certain proteins results in the adsorption of antigenic fragments through the gastrointestinal mucous membrane.

This results in chronic stimulation of lymphoid tissue to which these fragments gain access…Chronic immunological stimulation causes lymphomas in laboratory animals and is believed to cause lymphoid cancers in men…The gastrointestinal mucous membrane is only a partial barrier to the absorption of food antigens, and circulating antibodies to food protein is commonplace especially potent lymphoid stimulants. Ingestion of cows' milk can produce generalized lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, and profound adenoid hypertrophy. It has been conservatively estimated that more than 100 distinct antigens are released by the normal digestion of cows' milk which evoke production of all antibody classes [This may explain why pasteurized, killed viruses are still antigenic and can still cause disease.

Here's more. A large prospective study from Norway was reported in the British Journal of Cancer 61 (3):456-9, March 1990. (Almost 16,000 individuals were followed for 11 and a half years). For most cancers there was no association between the tumour and milk ingestion. However, in lymphoma, there was a strong positive association. If one drank two glasses or more daily (or the equivalent in dairy products), the odds were 3.4 times greater than in persons drinking less than one glass of developing a lymphoma.

There are two other cow-related diseases that you should be aware of. At this time they are not known to be spread by the use of dairy products and are not known to involve man. The first is bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and the second is the bovine immunodeficiency virus (BIV). The first of these diseases, we hope, is confined to England and causes cavities in the animal's brain. Sheep have long been known to suffer from a disease called scrapie. It seems to have been started by the feeding of contaminated sheep parts, especially brains, to the British cows. Now, use your good sense. Do cows seem like carnivores? Should they eat meat? This profit-motivated practice backfired and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow Disease, swept Britain. The disease literally causes dementia in the unfortunate animal and is 100 per cent incurable. To date, over 100,000 cows have been incinerated in England in keeping with British law. Four hundred to 500 cows are reported as infected each month. The British public is concerned and has dropped its beef consumption by 25 per cent, while some 2,000 schools have stopped serving beef to children. Several farmers have developed a fatal disease syndrome that resembles both BSE and CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease). But the British Veterinary Association says that transmission of BSE to humans is "remote."

The USDA agrees that the British epidemic was due to the feeding of cattle with bonemeal or animal protein produced at rendering plants from the carcasses of scrapie-infected sheep. The have prohibited the importation of live cattle and zoo ruminants from Great Britain and claim that the disease does not exist in the United States. However, there may be a problem. "Downer cows" are animals who arrive at auction yards or slaughter houses dead, trampled, lacerated, dehydrated, or too ill from viral or bacterial diseases to walk. Thus they are "down." If they cannot respond to electrical shocks by walking, they are dragged by chains to dumpsters and transported to rendering plants where, if they are not already dead, they are killed. Even a "humane" death is usually denied them. They are then turned into protein food for animals as well as other preparations. Minks that have been fed this protein have developed a fatal encephalopathy that has some resemblance to BSE. Entire colonies of minks have been lost in this manner, particularly in Wisconsin. It is feared that the infective agent is a prion or slow virus possible obtained from the ill "downer cows."

The British Medical Journal in an editorial whimsically entitled "How Now Mad Cow?" (BMJ vol. 304, 11 Apr. 1992:929-30) describes cases of BSE in species not previously known to be affected, such as cats. They admit that produce contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy entered the human food chain in England between 1986 and 1989. They say. "The result of this experiment is awaited." As the incubation period can be up to three decades, wait we must.

The immunodeficency virus is seen in cattle in the United States and is more worrisome. Its structure is closely related to that of the human AIDS virus. At this time we do not know if exposure to the raw BIV proteins can cause the sera of humans to become positive for HIV. The extent of the virus among American herds is said to be "widespread". (The USDA refuses to inspect the meat and milk to see if antibodies to this retrovirus is present). It also has no plans to quarantine the infected animals. As in the case of humans with AIDS, there is no cure for BIV in cows. Each day we consume beef and diary products from cows infected with these viruses and no scientific assurance exists that the products are safe. Eating raw beef (as in steak Tartare) strikes me as being very risky, especially after the Seattle E. coli deaths of 1993.

A report in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research , October 1992, Vol. 56 pp.353-359 and another from the Russian literature, tell of a horrifying development. They report the first detection in human serum of the antibody to a bovine immunodeficiency virus protein. In addition to this disturbing report, is another from Russia telling us of the presence of virus proteins related to the bovine leukemia virus in 5 of 89 women with breast disease (Acta Virologica Feb. 1990 34(1): 19-26). The implications of these developments are unknown at present. However, it is safe to assume that these animal viruses are unlikely to "stay" in the animal kingdom.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.