Dr. Michael Klaper answers questions on a wide variety of health and nutrition-related subjects. To submit a question or topic for possible inclusion here, send e-mail to: answers@DoctorKlaper.com
Updated: December 3, 2014
By: Dr. Michael Klaper
I did much of my growing up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin. I began milking cows when I was 8 years old. Several things are now clear to me:
The purpose of cow’s milk is to turn a 65-pound calf into a 700-pound cow as rapidly as possible. Cow’s milk IS baby calf growth fluid. No matter what you do to it, that is what the stuff is.
Everything in that white liquid – the hormones, the lipids, the proteins, the sodium, the growth factors like IGF-I – are all there to start that calf growing into a great big cow, or else they would not be there.
Whether you pour it on your cereal as a liquid, churn it into butter, curdle it into yogurt, ferment it into cheese, or add sugar and freeze it to make ice cream… It’s baby calf growth fluid!
Its purpose is to increase weight and promote growth in tissues throughout the mammalian body. It’s great stuff if you are a baby calf, but if you are a human trying to create a lean, healthy body, it will NOT “do a body good.”
Trying to lose weight? It seems to me that if you are trying to shed fat and create a leaner body for yourself, it is fundamentally irrational to be ingesting substances designed to make a mammalian body bigger and fatter.
No matter how it is transformed or disguised, cow’s milk is the lactation secretion of a large bovine animal that just had a baby. Thanks to modern dairy science that has genetically modified the cows, she is already pregnant with her next calf.
Like all mother’s milk (especially pregnant mothers!) it is brimming with estrogens – and these estrogens are active! In a very revealing study1 – chilling in its implications – researchers in Japan gave men, women and young boys 2 large glasses of milk and then collected their urine every 15 minutes. Shortly after drinking the milk, potent, active, female hormones – estrone, estradiol, estriol, pregnanediol were flowing throughout their bodies and into the urine. Of great concern, within minutes of drinking the milk, levels of testosterone in the men and boys plunged.
The researchers concluded, “The present data on men and children indicate that estrogens in milk were absorbed, and gonadotropin secretion was suppressed, followed by a decrease in testosterone secretion.
Sexual maturation of pre-pubertal children could be affected by the ordinary intake of cow milk.”
Do you get the importance of that last statement? Why are our young girls going through puberty at age 7, 8 and 9 years of age? Why are they saddled with all the psychological damage and increased cancer risk that comes from becoming sexually mature before age 10? Before we blame pesticides and plasticizers, should we not consider these potent, mammalian estrogens we are pouring through our childrens’ bodies, day after day from infancy, in all the milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt they avidly eat?
Pro-milk forces have made the phytoestrogens in soy the target of suspicion for possible estrogenic effects – when, in reality the phytoestrogens’ effects are minimal, and actually protective against breast cancer.2 The overblown concerns over soy have skillfully diverted the conversation away from the powerful feminizing hormonal effects of the clearly active bovine estrogens abounding in dairy products – which our girls and boys gobble down each day in large amounts with parental urging. (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”)
Early puberty is not the only concern in consuming milk from a pregnant cow. “Get your mammograms, ladies.” Why do American women get so many breast lumps, necessitating all these x-rays, biopsies and surgery? The breast is a hormone responsive organ – could stimulating it day after day with potent bovine estrogens along with IGF-1, the most potent growth promoting hormone in the body – be contributing to the epidemic of breast lumps that American women search for in most every shower they take? It is well known that when dairy-consuming women do get breast cancer, it is more aggressive and lethal, thanks to the hormones and growth factors destined for baby calves but hijacked by humans with dreadful results.3
The female breast is not the only target of bovine estrogens. The uterus is also a hormone responsive muscle and, as every pregnant woman knows, it grows more muscle tissue in response to estrogens. Could bombarding the uterine muscles with potent estrogens from pregnant cows, year after year, prompt the growth of muscle tumors called fibroids (myomas) that lead to heavy menstrual bleeding, anemia, and finally, to so many hysterectomies? Given the prevalence of fibroids in the dairy-consuming countries, many scientists and clinicians have reached that very conclusion.
Gentlemen, what about those man-boobs that are growing on your chest? The male breast responds to estrogens, too. Could they be getting bigger driven by the estrogens you are gulping down with your extra-mozzarella pizzas and cheddar-dripping nachos?
Estrogens certainly aren’t kind to the prostate gland in men, as there is clear evidence that the estrogens and IGF-1 make prostate tissue unstable and set men up for aggressive prostate cancer.4
Finally, the protein in cow’s milk can be very un-friendly to the body. The casein, lactabumin and other proteins in cow’s milk have been associated with many medical conditions from asthma5 to acne6 to type-1 diabetes in children7. In my experience, many patients suffering from asthmatic or allergic conditions often report dramatic relief from their symptoms upon omission of dairy products – and this was the experience of Dr. Lindahl who took his asthmatic patients off dairy and noticed dramatic improvement in asthma symptoms and drastic decrease in medications, including steroids!8
What a metabolic risk to take for a substance absolutely un-needed by humans! We have no more need for the milk of a cow than we do the milk of a dog or a giraffe! There is abundant protein, fat, vitamins and minerals in many food products in a whole-food, plant-based diet for human beings. The bovine protein, fats, and hormones in baby calf growth fluid are simply not required by us two-leggers.
The dairy industry markets its products as a good supply of calcium, required for preventing osteoporosis. The implication is that osteoporosis is a disease of calcium deficiency and if we but consume enough calcium – mostly through dairy products – our bones will stay strong.
While this may be effective marketing, it’s not based on scientific fact. Osteoporosis is not a disease of calcium deficiency! Americans consume more calcium than anyone else on planet Earth. Yet, American women suffer more osteoporosis than almost anyone else on the planet. This alone should belie the belief that osteoporosis is a calcium deficiency. If it were a calcium deficiency, you would not see it in developing nations like the U.S. – yet, those are the countries where the condition is most rampant.
Recent studies have shown that the more dairy a woman consumes the higher her risk of hip fracture!9 So, clearly, cow’s milk and the products made from them will not prevent or remedy osteoporosis.
So, if osteoporosis is not a calcium deficiency, what is it? Every first year medical student that did not sleep through physiology class learns about Wolff’s Law of Bones, which states that the more you use a bone and stress it against gravity, the stronger it becomes. Lifting objects, walking up hills with a load on your shoulder, carrying any weights stimulates the osteoblast cells in our bones to lay down new bone structure. Just like muscle, the more you use your bones, the stronger they become.
In the past, we used our bones a lot, spending most of our hours each day carrying firewood, lifting garden baskets of vegetables, hefting sacks of grain, carrying buckets of water, wielding hoes and shovels, and stacking bales of hay.
Those weight-bearing exercises used to repeatedly put stresses on our bones that made them grow stronger in response. Osteoporosis was quite uncommon before the 20th century and today is rarely seen in people who stay physically active, even into advanced years.
Yet, welcome to the 21st century where we have abandoned our hearty, physical, bone-building lifestyle for one where we sit – virtually all day.
We sit at the breakfast table. We sit in the car to drive to work. We sit in front of a computer at our jobs, and we sit in the cafeteria at lunch. We sit in front of the computer all afternoon, and we sit in the car, bus or train on the way home. Then, we spend our evening sitting in front of our home computer or in the living room watching television. Then, we go to bed and lie down.
Mother Nature says, “use it or lose it.” Since we no longer ask our bones to become strong through wholesome daily use, our bones become weak and porous – and they crumble like styrofoam. This is the reality of osteoporosis.
It’s our lack of weight-bearing exercise – along with widespread vitamin D deficiency from our always-inside, sun-deficient lives and “calcium thieves” such as high-protein diets, excess salt, sugar, caffeine, and soft drinks containing phosphoric-acid which increase calcium excretion through our kidneys – that has caused our national bone density to decrease so drastically. In other words, rather than a lack calcium in our diets being the underlying cause of the disease, osteoporosis is largely disuse atrophy of the bones!
Osteoporosis can be readily reversed by (a) eliminating the above-named “calcium thieves” from one’s diet and (b) purchasing a weighted vest for about $50 (search for “Weighted Vest”) and wearing it while walking, doing housework, or most any activity for 20 – 40 minutes every day. Start with just one or 2 pounds and gradually work your way up to 10 or 12 lbs.
With every step, a wave of weight goes down the spine, hips, and leg bones and the bones respond to the weight loads placed upon them. Bone density soon increases in a healthy, natural manner – not by taking drugs! Gradually increasing the weights over time, will ensure the bones continue to strengthen. For those who cannot wear such a vest, elastic resistance bands used regularly to build muscle will also build bone!
To further refute the claim that cow’s milk is the best dietary source of calcium (and, as often implied in milk advertisements, virtually the only source), I pose a question: Where do cows get all that calcium to put in their big bones and into their milk? After all, cows do not drink milk!
Of course, the calcium comes from green plants the cows eat during the day. Calcium is required by all green plants for cell wall strength and I strongly believe that’s where humans should get their calcium, as well.
Ample quantities of dark green leafy vegetables – kale, chard, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc. – consumed daily, along with calcium-precipitated tofu and calcium-fortified orange juice, if desired, will easily meet the calcium needs for anyone who wants to create strong bones and is willing to do the weight-bearing exercise to actually make their bones stronger.
Drinking milk and/or taking calcium pills and living a sedentary lifestyle while hoping your bones get stronger are NOT the answer. In fact, taking high-dose calcium supplements may actually increase the risk of calcification of arteries and ligaments – tissues you don’t want to calcify.
In summary, there is nothing in cow’s milk required by humans beings – and many things in it that we are better off not consuming, including saturated fats, bovine growth factors, disease-abetting proteins, not to mention residues of antibiotics, pesticides and cow pus.
Most children on planet Earth – including North American children with bona fide allergies to cow’s milk – grow up big and strong without ever consuming significant amounts of cow’s milk products. They simply are not available due to lack of refrigeration, etc. Yet these children who eat wholesome, plant-based diets and get plenty of vigorous, weight-bearing exercise in the sunshine develop strong bones that last them all their lives (assuming they don’t let them atrophy as sedentary North Americans do.)
In my medical practice, I can often easily recognize the cheese and dairy-eaters. I see the pudginess in their face and the fat around their necks and waists. It is literally written all over them that they are absorbing into their tissues every day a substance filled with fat, hormones and other growth-promoting factors which foster adipose abdomens, bull necks, and, dare I say it, a bovine configuration.
Conversely, it is often remarkable to witness a person’s entire countenance change when they stop consuming dairy products: fatty deposits in their face, neck and trunk begin to melt away, strong jaw lines emerge, and necks show their true anatomy – sometimes muscular, sometimes slender, always welcome. The post dairy-eating human just seems overall healthier, less bloated.
So, unless you are a baby calf, this physician believes we are far better off not consuming the products made from the milk of a cow.
Michael Klaper, M.D.
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