Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar
Who are we?New articlesFeatured topicsArticles onlineSubscriptionsContact us!
Check out recent tables of contents
From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
October 2002

Environmental Issues: What's Milk Got?
by Rose Marie Williams, MA

Our October 2002 cover
Order back issues
Advertise with TLDP!
Order this issue!
Search our site
Visit our pre-2001 archives

     The GOT MILK? campaign featuring high profile celebrities sporting milk mustaches has been a very effective advertising tool in putting milk in front of the American consumer to reverse a decline in milk sales. The medical establishment endorses milk as a way to build strong bodies in children and prevent osteoporosis in later years, due to the high calcium content. Milk is said to be the "perfect food.” For sure, there is much controversy about the benefits of dairy products. With all due respect and great admiration for the enduring research done by Weston largely on dairy, meat, and animal blood as a mainstay of their diet. He personally believed in the benefit dairy products conferred to bones and teeth, as well as the benefit derived from butter fat.1

     The primitive cultures about which he wrote got their dairy straight from the cow, unpasteurized and unhomogenized. US dairy production in the 1930s had not yet progressed to the high tech factory farms of today. Raw milk was readily abundant, with all the beneficial enzymes intact. Cows grazed on chlorophyll rich grasses nurtured by the sun's energy. All this has changed.

     Today's milk may look the same, even taste the same, but it is quite a different product. Milk in the US contains myriad drugs, some approved and others not. Milk contains pesticides from treated grains, bacteria and pus from infected animals, in some instances -- salmonella, and genetically engineered growth hormones designed to increase milk production, thereby shortening the life of a dairy cow from an average of 15 years to three or four. Plastic containers, and plastic wrap may leach dangerous chemicals into milk and dairy products. There is even a variable level of radiation in dairy products.

     For years the US produced more milk than it could use with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) subsidizing the industry by buying up surplus butter, cheese, and non-fat dry milk, much of which is distributed to our children in school lunch programs.2

Ear Infections, Allergies, and More
     Every year, about 10 million American children are treated for ear infections, making this second only to upper respiratory infections (colds & flu) as the most common illnesses treated by pediatricians. An infection to the middle ear (otitis media) results when ear secretions fail to drain properly and build up causing pressure in the ear to rise often followed by infection. Dairy products thicken and increase mucus, making it difficult for an infected ear to drain properly. Antibiotics are the first line of treatment by conventional medicine. Kids who are treated more frequently with antibiotics appear to have more infections. Alternative treatments may include keeping the child well hydrated with water, non-caffeine teas and diluted fruit juices, and avoiding dairy products.3

     Besides ear and tonsillar infections, dairy products have been associated with allergy, sinusitis, headache, congestion, runny nose, rash/eczema, fatigue, lethargy, irritability, bedwetting, asthma, intestinal bleeding, colic, childhood diabetes, even bovine leukemia virus, or AIDS-like virus.2,4,5 Type 1 diabetes in infants under six months of age is linked to cow's milk. Finland is the world's highest dairy consuming country and has the world's highest rate of insulin dependent diabetes, striking about 40 children per 1000, compared to approximately seven per 1000 in the United States. Diabetic children were found to have eight times as many antibodies against milk protein as did healthy children indicating an autoimmune disorder. There are over 25 proteins in cow's milk, which can cause allergic reaction in humans. The body may react to these proteins as foreign invaders. Iron deficiency anemia in babies is associated with consumption of cow's milk. Pediatric guidelines now suggest that infants less than one year old not be given cow's milk.5

     Dr. Benjamin Spock, who helped parents raise the post-war generation of baby boomers, promoted milk's virtues for fifty years. Not only did milk change dramatically over that span of time, so did Dr. Spock's opinion of it as a perfect food. His later years were spent raising public awareness of milk's negative impact on health and declaring it an unfit food for infants. Noel Bernard, MD, the director of Physicians for Responsible Medicine, believes humans should not consume cow's milk, and that serious health problems can result from the proteins, sugar, fat, and contaminants in milk products. Milk consumption in adults is associated primarily with heart disease, arthritis, allergy, sinusitis, leukemia, lymphoma and cancer.2

Breast Milk vs Cow's Milk
         Many studies indicate breast-fed babies have fewer, and less severe, illnesses than formula-fed infants, including gastrointestinal infections, respiratory and ear infections, eczema and asthma. Human breast milk promotes helpful bacteria that inhibit many disease-causing bacteria and parasites. Formula-fed babies have approximately one-tenth the level of bacteria-fighting lactobacillus. A ten-year follow-up study with premature infants showed the breast fed children scored ten points higher in IQ tests than the formula-fed group.2

     Cow's milk is three to four times richer in protein than human milk; it has seven times the mineral content; but is deficient in essential fatty acids (EFAs) compared to human breast milk. Human milk has six to ten times as much EFAs, especially linoleic acid. Skimmed milk has no linoleic acid. Growing calves need massive skeletal growth, while human infants need important nourishment for brains, spinal cord and nerves.4

     All milk is intended to nourish the young of its species. Milk is a hormonal delivery system designed to regulate growth. A healthy human infant should double its weight in three months going from seven to fourteen pounds, whereas a calf is expected to reach 500 pounds in six months. Milk was designed to be a "perfect food” for the newborn of each mammalian species. Most species wean their young off milk after infancy. Humans are the only species that continue consuming milk, and then choosing milk from a different species entirely.2 We would find it absurd to drink chimpanzee milk, a species much closer to our own, yet custom and habit have made us comfortable with the idea of consuming cow's milk, a species flagrantly unlike our own. We have moved so far away from nature's paradigm that we no longer recognize the absurdity of it all.

Lactose Intolerance
         Recent mapping of the human genome has found "the genetic coding responsible for the inability of most adults to produce lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the primary sugar in milk.” Infants produce lactase to help digest mother's milk. The lactase gene cuts off after weaning, making dairy consumption for many children and adults a mild to serious problem, which may include allergy, cramps, diarrhea, bloating, or gas. This genetic feature is found worldwide and geneticists conclude it must be very old. Therefore, lactose intolerance should not be classified as a disorder. What is a departure from the norm is the more recent development of adults of northern European descent to tolerate lactose.6

         Raw milk may be useful for building strong bones and preventing dental caries, while pasteurization destroys vitamins and interferes with calcium absorption. Raw milk contains enzymes that assist with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Epidemiological studies from the United Kingdom and Oslo, Norway, implicate pasteurization as a causative factor in heart disease. A sudden steep rise in coronary heart disease was observed within two years of introducing high heat pasteurization.7

     In the US the consumption of milk products subjected to extensive heat such as evaporated milk and ice cream doubled from 1931 to 1945, and so did the consumption of cheese that was pasteurized, processed or cooked. During this time period deaths from heart disease increased twelve-fold. Some cultures that rely on dairy, such as the Masai, Zulu, nomads of Nigeria and Somaliland, and others, preserve their milk by fermentation and are free of heart disease.7

     In some instances pasteurization is less than successful in destroying harmful bacteria and viruses as occurred in Chicago in 1985. A processing plant incorrectly pasteurized one day's supply of milk, which resulted in four deaths and 150,000 salmonella poisonings. The tainted batch of milk might also have contained live leukemia virus, tuberculosis virus, and a large assortment of other infectious organisms. "No records were kept to monitor subsequent cases of encephalitis, meningitis, or leukemia.”2

     Homogenization may increase the risk of arteriosclerotic heart disease. The enzyme, xanthine oxidase, is present in all milk, and is digested when raw milk is consumed. Homogenization breaks up the fat into tiny droplets, which surround and protect the enzyme. It is then carried into the bloodstream where it produces a chemical that damages the arteries. Plaque builds up at the injury site, thereby contributing to atherosclerosis. Even young children in the US are showing signs of hardening of the arteries. Cultures that consume no milk products, including the Yemenites, the South Vietnamese, the Atiu Mitiaro, and the Hunja remain free of arteriosclerotic heart disease.7

     Early research conducted on feeding pasteurized and homogenized milk to cats "caused profound and rapid degeneration in all species tested.” These conclusions have yet to be refuted.8

     The meat and dairy industry are the biggest users of antibiotic drugs. Some 52 known drugs are used to treat mastitis alone. According to Consumer's Union, only 30 of these drugs have been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA claims several of the "illegal” drugs are generic versions of the 30 approved substances.2

     Drug residues often go directly into the animal's milk. The milk from one treated cow can contaminate an entire truckload with drug residues. A withdrawal time should be observed during which milk is to be discarded until the drugs pass out of the cow's system, in as much as four to seven milking periods. That means money down the drain. The dairy industry is supposed to observe a withdrawal time before allowing milk from treated cows to reenter the milk pool, but this is not always done. About one-third of milk products are contaminated with antibiotic residues. Of the myriad drugs used, the FDA only requires residue tests for four.2,4,9

     For some drugs, approved withdrawal times have never been established, so farmers or veterinarians using these drugs to treat dairy cows don't know how long milk can be contaminated. Some drugs used in dairy production are capable, even at low levels, of causing allergic reactions in a small number of milk drinkers. Milk is the most common cause of food allergy. Michael Jacobsen, author of Safe Food, suggests that in some cases the drugs in milk products may prove to be the offending substances, rather than the milk itself.9

     The escalating use of drugs in dairy production has been blamed for the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria. Some critics believe that government has done little to protect the public. Some veterinary drugs such as sulfamethazine along with other sulfa drugs may slightly increase cancer risk for humans. In spite of repeated assurances by the FDA that the milk supply is safe, the General Accounting Office (GAO) has concluded the FDA doesn't really know if it is safe or not.9

     Furthermore, toxic pesticides applied to feed grains are absorbed into the milk as well. Many of these chemicals are fat soluble and mimic estrogen in the body. They are considered to be hormone and endocrine disrupters.

     In 1998 a small group of health and environmental advocates met with top officials of the New York State Dept. of Health (NYS DOH) to express concerns regarding the aging Indian Point Nuclear Reactors (IPP) situated close to the metropolitan areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Attempting to assure us that IPP posed no health risk, one DOH official mentioned that milk is periodically tested for radiation contamination in New York, and other states as well. Far from being reassured, we found this news startling! Not one of us had ever heard this before, nor had we ever heard a radio announcement about the radiation index for the week's milk supply, like one hears warnings about the air pollution index. Why isn't the public apprised of this information? What parent would knowingly give their child radiation contaminated food? When we questioned the DOH further we were told the testing had nothing to do with local reactors, they merely tested for ongoing fallout from other places around the world, like Chornobyl (preferred Ukrainian spelling).

     We felt they were not completely upfront about this information especially after hearing Dr. Helen Caldicott, the Australian pediatrician and outspoken critic of the nuclear industry, explain how radioactive particles are regularly emitted from nuclear plants and precipitate back down with rain, covering fields, farms and backyard gardens. Cows ingest the contaminated grain, which passes into the milk. Milk is consumed quickly after reaching market before the various radioactive particles have broken down. Aged cheese contains less radioactive contamination because many contaminants have a short half-life. Cheese aficionados should stick to cheese aged 60 days or longer.

Historical Summary
1600/1700s – In colonial days each cow yielded about one quart of milk per day. Milk was churned into butter and stored to provide nourishment during the hard lean winters.

1908 – Pasteurization was introduced to reduce spoilage and bacterial growth, but also destroys beneficial enzymes.

1919 – Homogenization prevented separation of fat by breaking fat into tiny particles where it remains suspended throughout the liquid.

1932 – Artificially produced Vitamin D was added to milk.

1964 – Plastic milk containers were commercially introduced.

1994 – Monsanto Company develops genetically engineered growth hormone, referred to as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) or bovine growth hormone (BGH) to further boost dairy yield per cow.2

Current Consumption
    The USDA reports a substantial increase in the use of low fat and skim milk over whole milk, however, use of milk fat rose "because cheese consumption soared.” Cheese, butter and ice cream are concentrated forms of milk. A person consuming one pound of milk every day consumes 365 pounds of milk in a year. However, an individual who eats one pound of cheese, ice cream, or butter daily is actually consuming a much greater concentration of dairy factors (fat, cholesterol, pesticides, milk proteins, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc.). It takes 21.2 lbs. of milk to yield one lb. of butter; ten lbs. of milk yield one lb. of hard cheese; 12 lbs. of milk yield one lb. of ice cream; eleven lbs. of milk yield one lb. of non-fat dry milk. The average amount of dairy products consumed by the average American totals a startling 932.05 lbs. annual intake.2 This might be well over a 1000 lbs. annually factoring in the growing number of Americans who are avoiding milk.

     Dairy products make up a whopping 40% of the American diet, with all other foods (grains, meats, fruits and vegetables) making up the balance. Dairy is everywhere on the American scene – cream cheese or butter on bagels, cream in coffee, the new lattes, cheeseburgers, milk shakes, ice cream, buttered toasted cheese sandwiches, tacos with melted cheese, baked potato with sour cream, and America's favorite foods – pizza and cheesecake. In fact, the bulk of New York State dairy is processed into mozzarella cheese, because of high demand. There's no denying cheese tastes good, and we love it. But is it good for us? This topic will be continued in a future article.


1.  Price, Weston, DDS, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Keats Pub. Inc., CT, 1989.

2.  Cohen, Rbt., Milk, the Deadly Poison, Argus Pub. Inc., NJ, 1998.

3.  "Relief for Ear Infections,” Natural Healing, Miami Dade Edit., June 2002.

4.  Kradjian, Rbt., MD, The Milk Letter: A Message To My Patients,, Feb.7, 1999.

5.  Whitaker, Julian, MD, Health and Healing, Vol. 6, No. March 1996.

6.  "Lactose Intolerance Actually Normal,” Sun Sentinel of South FL., Feb.24, 2002.

7.  Brown, Ellen, JD, Hansen, Richard, DMD, FACAD, The Key To Ultimate Health, Advanced Health Research, Pub., CA, 2000.

8.  Health Science Institute, Nov 2002.

9.  Jacobsen, Michael, et al, Safe Food, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Living Planet Press, CA, 1991.


Search our pre-2001 archives for further information. Older issues of the printed magazine are also indexed for your convenience.
1983-2001 indices
; 1999-Jan. 2003 indices
Once you find the magazines you'd like to order, please use our convenient form, e-mail, or call 360.385.6021 (PST).

© 1983-2002 Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
All rights reserved.
Web site by Sandy Hershelman Designs
February 22, 2003