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From John McDougall, MD

The UMP Will Not Promote the Fact that IGF–1 is a Powerful Cancer Promoter

Consumption of animal products increases the levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 in your body. However, modern dairy technology has made dairy products an even more potent source of this growth stimulant. Since 1985, U.S. dairy farmers have been allowed to inject cows with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH), a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone that increases milk production. RbGH treatment produces an increase in IGF-1 in cow’s milk.[53,54] IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization.[53] The overall effect is that milk seems to raise IGF-1 levels in people more than any other component of our diet.[55]

The direct evidence of the effects of cow’s milk on IGF-1 levels in people has been provided by the dairy industry’s own efforts. Two recent studies, one on adolescent girls and the other on postmenopausal women, showed increasing milk consumption actually raises plasma levels of IGF-1 in the person’s body by an average of 10%.[56,57] Their take on this is, “this is a beneficial effect” because IGF-1 stimulates bone growth. But, the actual lasting consequences should deliver the final deathblow to dairy products: IGF-1 promotes the growth of cancer. This growth promoter has been strongly linked to the development of cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon.[58] Excess IGF-1 stimulates cell proliferation and inhibits cell death – two activities you definitely don't want when cancer cells are involved.[58]

There is more to cancer promotion by dairy foods than IGF-1. Most dairy products are high in saturated fat – and fat is the number one suspect when it comes to the cause of most common cancers in Western societies (for example, breast, prostate, colon, kidney, pancreas). Recent studies have linked the sugar (lactose) and fat in milk with ovarian cancer,59,60 and the calcium in milk lowers concentrations of a specific form of vitamin D that protects against prostate cancer, raising men's overall risk.[61,62] (See my February 2003 Newsletter for more information on diet and prostate cancer.) Hormones (estrogens) are also involved in cancers of reproductive organs, like breast and uterine cancer. There are several reasons dairy products raise a woman’s hormone levels – causing a variety of hormone-dependent problems from early onset of menstruation (menarche) to PMS and uterine fibroids – but one is unique to cow’s milk. Cows are milked even while they are pregnant. As a result of the pregnancy, cows secrete high levels of estrogen into their milk.[63]

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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.