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Jasper

Milk Causes Cancer

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For some reason, I've seen several studies lately claiming the (pro)hormones in (cow) milk that cause young cows to grow, cause tumors/cancer in humans when drunk in large quantities. This smells like bullshit to me, but I can't tell quite where the stench is coming from. Can someone please explain me why these studies would be wrong?  

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I'm getting cancer?!?!

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I'm getting cancer?!?!

Yeah, I was surprised as well. I guess GOMAD is a silent killer

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I did GOMAD for six months, that's scary!

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I've not seen the studies, so my first question is this:

  • Epidemiological study or controlled double-blind study?

Almost every single claim from the media takes an epidemiological study which can at best show correlation, but can never show causation.  I can come up with several confounding facts that can skew the results, same as the ones that claim eating vegetarian is the only way to live to 100 (I know a couple 100 year-olds and I can say for sure that they do not eat vegetarian and I'm sure they also drink milk).

  • People who buy the cheapest milk out there (which have hormones and overcrowding issues) also tend not to care about other stuff they eat or exercise much.
  • People who buy organic milk and look for hormone free labels tend to care a great deal and do their best to remain healthy.

Until I see a study where there's a double blind controlled trial where one group is force fed hormone filled milk and another group is force fed hormone free milk until someone gets cancer I won't buy hype.  NOTE: such an open ended study will never be funded, particularly when we deal with such long periods of time.

 

The media is completely and utterly irresponsible when it comes to headline whoring.  That's exactly what this is.  All an epidemiological study show is that there is something worthy of further study.  It can never draw any real conclusion, and people who do draw conclusions from them are equally irresponsible.

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Too lazy to do research, but here's what I know (or think to know) about the issue, take it with a grain of salt:

 

Since the beginning of the 90s, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH)  may be used in cattle in the US. rBGH increases the concentration of insuline-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the milk. IGF-1 has been "linked" in studies to an increased cancer risk: high serum levels are associated with a higher risk for certain forms of cancer. But here's the kicker: In order to increase your serum levels of IGF-1, you'd need to inject the stuff: IGF-1 (or rBGH) cannot be taken orally, since the digestive system destroys them.

If you live in the EU, you don't need to concern yourself with this issue at all, as rBGH is not even allowed for use in cattle. Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons not to inject milk though.

 

TL;DR: If you live in the EU, it's bullshit. If you live in the USA, it's bullshit unless you inject the milk instead of drinking it.

 

 

I did GOMAD for six months, that's scary!

GOMAD may kill you if done long enough, but I'd venture it'll be a heart attack before you get cancer.

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Alright thanks guys, that makes it a lot clearer. I know that studies can only vaguely link a disease to a certain food, because to determine that a certain food causes a disease, you'd have to forcefeed someone lots of milk, and milk only, for years and years, and hopefully that kind of experiment will never happen.

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Additionally, elevated levels of IGF-1 can only cause cancer to grow faster, it doesn't directly cause it.

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If you live in the EU, you don't need to concern yourself with this issue at all, as rBGH is not even allowed for use in cattle. Obviously, there are plenty of other reasons not to inject milk though.

 

TL;DR: If you live in the EU, it's bullshit. If you live in the USA, it's bullshit unless you inject the milk instead of drinking it.

Yes, in the USA rBGH and other hormones are in milk. In Canada rBGH is not allowed, but that is changing due to pressure from American dairy practices and various organizations. But apparently the products in Canada that may contain rBGH are mostly dehydrated dairy products... like whey or concentrated skim milk (who the hell buys skim milk anyway?)

 

GOMAD may kill you if done long enough, but I'd venture it'll be a heart attack before you get cancer.

Getting hit by a bus would kill you before GOMAD ever would.

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Additionally, elevated levels of IGF-1 can only cause cancer to grow faster, it doesn't directly cause it.

But accelerating cancer is also bad, of course.

 

Yes, in the USA rBGH and other hormones are in milk. In Canada rBGH is not allowed, but that is changing due to pressure from American dairy practices and various organizations. But apparently the products in Canada that may contain rBGH are mostly dehydrated dairy products... like whey or concentrated skim milk (who the hell buys skim milk anyway?)

 

Getting hit by a bus would kill you before GOMAD ever would.

That's what you get for buying skim milk.

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 (who the hell buys skim milk anyway?)

 

I do on carb only days.

 

But accelerating cancer is also bad, of course.

 

Of course, but with that logic you might as well stop lifting--and sleeping.  After all, both increase IGF-1 in the body.  No meat either.

 

In fact, very few people have gotten out of life alive.  Binding yourself up in fear that the milkman is going to kill you (or kill you faster) is just counterproductive.

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But accelerating cancer is also bad, of course.

So far, to my knowledge, studies have only shown that high serum levels of IGF-1 correlate with a higher observed frequency of cancer. Everything else - namely cause and effect - seems to be speculation (frequency does not equal causation). And if it is true that you can't raise your serum level of IGF-1 through dietary rBGH or IGF-1 (e.g. drinking milk), the whole thing is a non-issue.

In fact, very few people have gotten out of life alive.  Binding yourself up in fear that the milkman is going to kill you (or kill you faster) is just counterproductive.

Wise words ;) Made me think of this song: http://dai.ly/xatq8l

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Of course, but with that logic you might as well stop lifting--and sleeping.  After all, both increase IGF-1 in the body.  No meat either.

 

In fact, very few people have gotten out of life alive.  Binding yourself up in fear that the milkman is going to kill you (or kill you faster) is just counterproductive.

I know I know, what I meant to say was that whether milk -hypothetically- causes or accelerates cancer, both are bad, regardless of which of the two it is. But yeah, you're right.

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Accelerating is only bad if you already have cancer.  If you have 0 cancer, it doesn't matter how fast it increases, it's still 0 cancer.  That's my point.

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And what about (pro)hormones in milk that are not added by people, but that are already there?

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What (pro)hormones are you talking about?  I r confused.

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What (pro)hormones are you talking about?  I r confused.

The ones that are in it naturally. Like, the ones that should help the baby cows grow. Not sure how to specificy, but they were mentioned *somewhere*, and I can't find it now.

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OK, I found an article that could possibly be something you looked at or at least very similar:

 

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/12.07/11-dairy.html

 

No actual studies were linked to in the article, so there's no way to verify claims.  However, there's some key words "comparing diet to cancer rates" which do indicate epidemiological studies.  However, there was at least one study involving rats, but no mention of the quantity of milk the rats were fed or what the human equivalent is.  Here's a summary of the relevant points:

  • Hormones in milk are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
  • Of those, estrogen is the primary concern and does have a demonstrated link with cancer, but I can't find any data on how much, etc. (substantiated by other sources)
  • 90% of ingested hormones are destroyed during digestion, which is a major reason why I wouldn't freak out too much (this comes from other sources than the article linked)
  • Skim milk has very low levels of the hormones
  • More research has to be done to better understand the correlation, and just how much milk is required to cause cancer in humans

As long as you aren't injecting the milk directly into your bloodstream, and you drink a moderate amount of milk, I really don't think it's too big of a practical concern.  Particularly since most of the ingested hormones are removed/destroyed/etc. during digestion.  What isn't addressed in the stomach and intestinal linings are dealt with in the liver, leaving only 10% of what was ingested to worry about.  If you aren't doing GOMAD, you'll probably be OK.

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Thanks a lot for doing the research, Berin. I drink a litre of milk a day, so I guess I'm not in the danger zone.

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As an aside, a lot of milk (maybe even most?) sold in the US today is now rGBH-free.  See here.  I buy organic milk, though at the rate my kids consume it, it's very expensive.  Not sure it's worth it.  I try to buy organic and cage-free, grass-fed, happy-animal stuff whenever I can.

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I know for a fact that HEB's Hill Counrty Fare and HEB brand are r ghb free, i see the labels every day 

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At this point in time, media will say everything causes cancer. Don't trust the news, research and ask around here :)

I am not a big fan of milk because of how it is produced and what it actually is (also the fact that I am slightly intolerant to it, but that's another story), but I understand that some people drink big quantities of it and it's an important matter to face whether it is a hazard or not

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