Last updated on: 10/19/2018 11:54:17 AM PST
Is Drinking Milk Healthy for Humans?
Megan Ware, RDN, LD, Founder of Nutrition Awareness, in a Dec. 14, 2017 article for Medical News Today titled "All about Milk," wrote:
"Milk is good for the bones because it offers a rich source of calcium, a mineral essential for healthy bones and teeth. Cow's milk is fortified with vitamin D, which also benefits bone health. Calcium and vitamin D help prevent osteoporosis...
Cow's milk is a source of potassium, which can enhance vasodilation and reduce blood pressure. Increasing potassium intake and decreasing sodium can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease...
Cow's milk is a rich source of high-quality protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. Whole milk is also a rich source of energy in the form of saturated fat, which can prevent muscle mass being used for energy...
Osteoarthritis of the knee currently has no cure, but researchers say drinking milk every day has been linked to reduced progression of the disease...
Milk is also a rich source of choline; an important nutrient found to support sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and can lessen chronic inflammation."
Dec. 14, 2017 - Megan Ware, RDN, LD
The National Dairy Council (NDC), in its Jan. 9, 2017 resource titled "Is Milk Good for You?," available from their website, wrote:
"Your body needs certain nutrients to function properly, and milk contains many of those nutrients. For example, milk is an excellent source of calcium, which can help build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It also contains a number of B vitamins (vitamin B 12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin), which can help your body convert food into fuel."
Jan. 9, 2017 - National Dairy Council (NDC)
Tanja Kongerslev Thorning, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Arne Astrup, MD, PhD, Director of the Department of Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen, et al., in a Nov. 22, 2016 article published in the Journal of Food and Nutrition titled "Milk and Dairy Products: Good or Bad for Human Health? An Assessment of the Totality of Scientific Evidence," available from ncbi.nlm.gov, wrote:
"The most recent evidence suggested that intake of milk and dairy products was associated with reduced risk of childhood obesity. In adults, intake of dairy products was shown to improve body composition and facilitate weight loss during energy restriction. In addition, intake of milk and dairy products was associated with a neutral or reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke. Furthermore, the evidence suggested a beneficial effect of milk and dairy intake on bone mineral density but no association with risk of bone fracture. Among cancers, milk and dairy intake was inversely associated with [protective against] colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, gastric cancer, and breast cancer, and not associated with risk of pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, or lung cancer, while the evidence for prostate cancer risk was inconsistent. Finally, consumption of milk and dairy products was not associated with all-cause mortality."
Nov. 22, 2016 - Tanja Kongerslev Thorning, PhD
Arne Astrup, MD, PhD
The Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group, a cross-party interest group of UK MPs (Members of Parliament), in a Mar. 2016 report titled "Putting Dairy Back on the Daily Menu," available from dairyuk.org, wrote:
"Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are naturally nutrient rich foods. Milk, hard cheese and yogurt are the number one source of calcium in the UK diet. They also contain a wealth of other key nutrients such as protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, iodine, phosphorus and potassium, all of which play an essential role in a healthy diet.
Calcium and other bone friendly nutrients found in milk and dairy are important in developing bone. This is particularly important in childhood and adolescent children as these are critical periods for bone growth and skeletal development...
The dairy food group is also an excellent source of iodine, an important mineral needed to form hormones in the thyroid. These hormones are necessary for a number of body processes, including metabolism regulation and proper foetal brain development."
Mar. 2016 - Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group
The National Dairy Council stated the following in its fact sheet "Milk's Unique Nutrient Package," available at their website (accessed Jan. 16, 2009):
"Milk contains nine essential nutrients, making it one of the most nutrient-rich beverages you can enjoy. Just one 8-ounce serving of milk puts you well on your way to meeting the Daily Value (recommended intake for those on a 2,000 calorie diet) for calcium, riboflavin and other key nutrients...
The protein in milk is high quality, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids or 'building blocks' of protein. Protein builds and repairs muscle tissue, and serves as a source of energy during high-powered endurance exercise. An 8-ounce glass of milk provides about 16% of the Daily Value for protein...
Vitamin B12 helps build red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to working muscles. Just one 8-ounce glass of milk provides about 13% of the Daily Value for this vitamin."
Jan. 16, 2009 - National Dairy Council (NDC)
Dale E. Bauman, PhD, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University, stated the following in his Dec. 2004 article "Modifying Milk Fat Composition of Dairy Cows to Enhance Fatty Acids Beneficial to Human Health," published in Lipids:
"Milk and dairy products are recognized as an important source of nutrition in human diets, providing energy, high quality protein, and essential minerals and vitamins."
Dec. 2004 - Dale E. Bauman, PhD
H. Douglas Goff, PhD, Professor of Food Science at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, stated the following in his article "Dairy Chemistry and Physics," available at the University of Guelph's Food Science website (accessed Jan. 16, 2009):
"The role of milk in nature is to nourish and provide immunological protection for the mammalian young. Milk has been a food source for humans since prehistoric times; from human, goat, buffalo, sheep, yak, to the focus of this section - domesticated cow milk (genus Bos). Milk and honey are the only articles of diet whose sole function in nature is food. It is not surprising, therefore, that the nutritional value of milk is high."
Jan. 16, 2009 - H. Douglas Goff, PhD
Frank R. Greer, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine, stated the following in the Jan. 9, 2007 article "Proposed New FDA Health Claim Recognizes Role of Key Nutrients in Dairy in Reducing The Risk of Osteoporosis," published at the Midwest Dairy Association website:
"Milk is one of the richest dietary sources of calcium and vitamin D, critical for building strong bones in kids and teens, and providing the best defense against developing osteoporosis later in life. While calcium supplements and non-dairy foods such as calcium-fortified beverages are an alternative, these products do not offer milk's unique nutrient package."
Jan. 9, 2007 - Frank R. Greer, MD
Robert Heaney, MD, John A. Creighton University Professor in the Department of Medicine at Creighton University, stated the following in his Apr. 19 2000 article "Calcium, Dairy Products, and Osteoporosis," published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition:
"It is long established and well understood that milk supports growth; thus, it is evident that milk and milk products are good sources of the nutrients needed for bone development and maintenance... Milk products are richer sources of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc and protein, per unit energy, than the average of other typical foods in an adult diet. As a consequence, a diet devoid of dairy products will often be a poor diet, not just in respect to calcium, but for many other nutrients as well."
Apr. 19, 2000 - Robert Heaney, MD
Heidi Kalkwarf, PhD, RD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, stated the following in her Jan. 2003 article "Milk Intake During Childhood and Adolescence, Adult Bone Density, and Osteoporotic Fractures in U.S. Women," published in the American Journal of the College of Nutrition:
"We found that milk intake in childhood and adolescence is associated with increased bone mass and density in adulthood... These findings support efforts to promote a diet containing one or more servings of milk/d [milk per day] for girls during childhood and adolescence to increase bone mass and density in adulthood and reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture."
Jan. 2003 - Heidi Kalkwarf, PhD, RD
Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), stated the following in her June 1, 2001 article "What's the Story? The Role of Milk in Your Diet," published at www.acsh.org:
"Milk is a nutritious food. It is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin D and a good source of protein, vitamin A, potassium, and several B vitamins. Milk and foods made from milk (yogurt and cheese) make up one of the five basic food groups included in the U.S. government's Food Guide Pyramid. The Pyramid calls for two to three servings from this group daily."
June 1, 2001 - Ruth Kava, PhD, RD
William Sears, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine, stated the following in his 2006 article "Milk," available at the Ask Dr. Sears website:
"Milk is one-stop shopping for nutrition. It contains nearly all the basic nutrients that a growing child needs: fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals (except iron). While it is true that most of the nutrients in milk can be gotten easily from other sources, such as vegetables, legumes, and seafood, milk puts them all together in a convenient package."
2006 - William Sears, MD
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) stated the following in a Sep. 27, 2007 e-mail to ProCon.org:
"Milk contains a complete nutrient package of nine essential nutrients. In addition to being an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D, it is a good source of vitamin A, protein and potassium. Dairy is doctor recommended. Dairy's role in a healthy diet has long been established by the nutrition and science community. This includes the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association's Council of Scientific Affairs and many other leading health organizations."
Sep. 27, 2007 - International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated the following in its article "Inside the Pyramid: Milk - Health Benefits and Nutrients," available at www.usda.gov (accessed Mar. 19, 2007):
"Consuming milk and milk products provides health benefits—people who have a diet rich in milk and milk products can reduce the risk of low bone mass throughout the life cycle. Foods in the milk group provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein."
Mar. 19, 2007 - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Deepa Verma, MD, founder of Synergistiq Integrative Health, in an Aug. 22, 2016 article for her company website titled "The Fallacy of 'Milk Does the Body Good,'" wrote:
"Cow's milk is not designed for human consumption... Cow's milk contains on average about three times the amount of protein than human milk does, which creates metabolic disturbances in humans that have detrimental bone health consequence...
Milk and dairy products are pro-inflammatory and mucus producing. Milk increases the risks of respiratory conditions and allergies. It has been linked to the development of arthritis due to joints becoming inflamed...
America has one of the highest consumption of dairy, yet one of the highest rates of osteoporosis. Excess calcium needs to excreted and the kidneys bear the load, which in turn contributes to the formation of kidney stones, which have a calcium composition...
A glass of milk also contains acidic animal protein that leeches calcium from the bones, pus cells, feces components, bovine growth hormone, antibiotics, and a whole lot of unnecessary fat, cholesterol and calories — all of which create a terrible imbalance in the body."
Aug. 22, 2016 - Deepa Verma, MD
Michael Greger, MD, physician and founder of the Nutrition Facts website, in a Sep. 15, 2016 post on the Nutrition Facts website titled "Should Pregnant Women Avoid Cow's Milk?," wrote:
"Foods of animal origin in general naturally contain hormones, but cow's milk may be of particular concern. The hormones naturally found even in organic cow's milk may have played a role in studies that found a relationship between dairy products and human illnesses, such as acne, certain cancers, and male reproductive disorders. Milk consumption has also been associated with an increased risk of early puberty in girls and endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women."
Sep. 15, 2016 - Michael Greger, MD
Robert M. Kradjian, MD, Former Chief of General Surgery at Seton Medical Center, stated the following in his article "The Milk Letter: A Message To My Patients," available at the AFPA Fitness website (accessed Sep. 19, 2018):
"I reviewed over 500 of the 1,500 [scientific] articles [on milk]... None of the authors spoke of cow's milk as an excellent food, free of side effects and the 'perfect food' as we have been led to believe by the industry. The main focus of the published reports seems to be on intestinal colic, intestinal irritation, intestinal bleeding, anemia, allergic reactions in infants and children as well as infections such as salmonella... In adults the problems seemed centered more around heart disease and arthritis, allergy, sinusitis, and the more serious questions of leukemia, lymphoma and cancer...
Any lactating mammal excretes toxins through her milk. This includes antibiotics, pesticides, chemicals and hormones… To get to the point, is milk pure or is it a chemical, biological, and bacterial cocktail?... 38% of milk samples in 10 cities were contaminated with sulfa drugs or other antibiotics. (This from the Centre for Science in the Public Interest and The Wall Street Journal...) A similar study in Washington, DC found a 20 percent contamination rate...
[D]on't drink milk for health. I am convinced on the weight of the scientific evidence that it does not 'do a body good.' Inclusion of milk will only reduce your diet's nutritional value and safety. Most of the people on this planet live very healthfully without cows' milk. You can too."
Sep. 19, 2018 - Robert M. Kradjian, MD
Susan Tomassini, nutritionist at the Clever Kitchen, in a Nov. 30, 2016 article for the HelloMonaco website titled "Keeping Monaco Healthy with Susan Tomassini: Don't Drink Your Milk!," wrote:
"Most dairy cattle are injected with a cocktail of hormones to artificially increase milk production. One of these, IGF 1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), stimulates the rapid growth of calves (and humans) by boosting the division and multiplication of all cells – including abnormal ones. Perhaps not surprising that many studies have found a link between IGF 1 and various cancers... And there's more...
• Prostate cancer: Some evidence suggests that the consumption of milk and other dairy products leads to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Conversely, dairy-free diets may slow the progress of prostate cancer.
• Acne: Multiple studies have linked all types of cow's milk to an increased prevalence of acne in both boys and girls...
• Bone loss: Instead of promoting bone health, animal protein in dairy products can have a calcium-leaching effect. Dairy products almost certainly help cause, not prevent, osteoporosis."
Nov. 30, 2016 - Susan Tomassini
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) made the following statement in their "Health Concerns About Dairy Products," available at www.pcrm.org (accessed Jan. 16, 2009):
"Milk's main selling point is calcium, and milk-drinking is touted for building strong bones in children and preventing osteoporosis in older persons. However, clinical research shows that dairy products have little or no benefit for bones...
Dairy products—including cheese, ice cream, milk, butter, and yogurt—contribute significant amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat to the diet...
Prostate and breast cancers have been linked to consumption of dairy products, presumably related to increases in a compound called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I)...
Milk proteins, milk sugar, fat, and saturated fat in dairy products pose health risks for children and encourage the development of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease...
Milk and dairy products are not necessary in the diet and can, in fact, be harmful to health."
Jan. 16, 2009 - Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
Frank A. Oski, MD, Former Director of the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, stated the following in his 1996 book Don't Drink Your Milk:
"The fact is: the drinking of cow milk has been linked to iron-deficiency anemia in infants and children; it has been named as the cause of cramps and diarrhea in much of the world's population, and the cause of multiple forms of allergy as well; and the possibility has been raised that it may play a central role in the origins of atherosclerosis and heart attacks...
In no mammalian species, except for the human (and the domestic cat), is milk consumption continued after the weaning period [the period of breast-feeding]. Calves thrive on cow milk. Cow milk is for calves.
In many other parts of the world, most particularly in East Asia, Africa, and South America, people regard cow milk as unfit for consumption by adult human beings."
1996 - Frank A. Oski, MD
Benjamin Spock, MD, pediatrician and author, stated the following in his Spring-Summer 1998 article "Good Nutrition for Kids," published in Good Medicine magazine:
"Cow's milk has become a point of controversy among doctors and nutritionists. There was a time when it was considered very desirable, but research has forced us to rethink this recommendation... Dairy products contribute to a surprising number of health problems. They can impair a child's ability to absorb iron and in very small children can even cause subtle blood loss from the digestive tract. Combined with the fact that milk has virtually no iron of its own, the result is an increased risk of iron deficiency...
Cow's milk proteins are a common cause of colic, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that there is evidence that cow's milk may well contribute to childhood-onset diabetes. Some children have sensitivities to milk proteins that show up as respiratory problems, chronic ear problems, or skin conditions."
Spring-Summer 1998 - Benjamin Spock, MD
Joseph Mercola, DO, Osteopathic Physician, stated the following in his article "Don't Drink Your Milk!," available at his website (accessed Sep. 18, 2007):
"Milk and refined sugar make two of the largest contributions to food induced ill health in our country... It is my strong recommendation that you discontinue your milk products."
Sep. 18, 2007 - Joseph Mercola, DO
Linda Folden Palmer, DC, chiropractor and author, stated the following in her 2007 book Baby Matters: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Caring for Your Baby:
"Cow's milk is a foreign substance that has pervaded every corner of our diets... Today there is little doubt that early and frequent feeding of dairy products leads to greatly increased incidence of childhood diabetes. It has been confirmed that high cow's milk consumption is a major cause of osteoporosis."
2007 - Linda Folden Palmer, DC
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made the following statement on the homepage of their Milk Sucks website (accessed Mar. 13, 2007):
"Dairy products are a health hazard. They contain no fiber or complex carbohydrates and are laden with saturated fat and cholesterol. They are contaminated with cow's blood and pus and are frequently contaminated with pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Dairy products are linked to allergies, constipation, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases."
Mar. 13, 2007 - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Margaret Moss, MA, Director of the Nutrition and Allergy Clinic in Greater Manchester, UK, stated the following in her article "How to Get Your Nutrients on a Milk-Free Diet," available at the Go Dairy Free website (accessed Sep. 17, 2007):
"Milk is a complex mixture of substances, some desirable, and others most definitely not. Avoiding milk is a health benefit, not a hazard, so long as you have a modest amount of calcium from a good quality supplement."
Sep. 17, 2007 - Margaret Moss, MA
Neal Barnard, MD, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, offerd the following in his article "Dr. Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition," available on the website of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (accessed May 31, 2007):
"Milk contains fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and diets high in fat and saturated fat can increase the risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease...
Organic milk may not contain the pesticides and antibiotics that non-organic milk contains, but still can be loaded with fat and cholesterol. Even organic cow's milk, which does not contain artificial hormones, does contain naturally occurring hormones. The combination of nutrients found in both organic and non-organic cow's milk increases our own production of some types of hormones. These hormones have been shown to increase the risk of some forms of cancer. Soymilk and other non-dairy beverages, such as rice and nut milks, are healthy alternatives to cow's milk."
May. 31, 2007 - Neal Barnard, MD