Top 10 Pro & Con Arguments
Is drinking milk healthy for humans?






1. Physicians' Perspectives on Milk

"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."

Tanja Kongerslev Thorning, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark)
Arne Astrup, MD, PhD
Director of the Department of Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), et al.
"Milk and Dairy Products: Good or Bad for Human Health? An Assessment of the Totality of Scientific Evidence,"
Journal of Food and Nutrition
Nov. 22, 2016


"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."

Deepa Verma, MD
Founder of Synergistiq Integrative Health
"The Fallacy of 'Milk Does the Body Good,'"
synergistiqhealth.com
Aug. 22, 2016


2. More Medical Advice on Milk

"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."

Megan Ware, RDN, LD
Founder of Nutrition Awareness
"All about Milk,"
Medical News Today
Dec. 14, 2017


"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."

Robert M. Kradjian, MD
Former Chief of General Surgery at Seton Medical Center
"The Milk Letter: A Message to My Patients,"
notmilk.com
(accessed Sep. 19, 2018)


3. Milk and Heart Disease

"A number of analyses... strengthen the evidence that regularly consuming milk and other dairy products does not increase risk of cardiovascular disease and may even have a protective effect. In relation to milk, an overview conducted in 2010 concluded that milk drinking is not harmful and may be associated with a small but worthwhile reduction in risk of coronary heart disease (8%) and a more substantial reduction in stroke risk (21%) for those who drank the most milk compared with those who drank the least. The pooled results of seventeen studies in 2011 also found milk intake was associated with a small potential reduction in overall cardiovascular risk of 6% for each 200ml of milk consumed a day. This analysis found no association between high intakes of either regular-fat or low-fat dairy products and increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Similarly, systematic reviews in 2015 and 2017 examining milk consumption and cardiovascular disease [CVD] mortality observed no consistent association. This was also the conclusion for milk and CVD risk in a meta-analysis published in 2016; milk intake was found to be neutral with respect to risk of stroke and coronary artery disease."

European Milk Forum (EMF)
"Cardiovascular Disease,"
milknutritiousbynature.eu
(accessed July 18, 2018)


"Among women in the Swedish Mammography Cohort, with analysis based on repeated exposure measurements, we observed a positive association between milk intake and total mortality...

Milk consumption corresponding to three or more glasses of milk a day (mean 680 g a day) compared with less than one glass a day (mean 60 g a day), was associated with... [increased] cardiovascular mortality...

Men in the Cohort of Swedish Men also had a higher rate of death with higher milk consumption. However, the excess risk was less pronounced than in women... [consumption of] three or more glasses of milk a day (mean 830 g a day) compared with less than one glass a day (mean 50 g a day) and was mainly associated with an increased rate of cardiovascular death."

Karl Michaëlsson, MD, PhD, et al.
Professor of Medical Epidemiology, Uppsala University (Sweden)
"Milk Intake and Risk of Mortality and Fractures in Women and Men: Cohort Studies,"
British Medical Journal
Oct. 27, 2014


4. Milk and Lactose Intolerance

"Individuals vary in their degree of lactose intolerance, but even children and teenagers with primary lactose intolerance can usually consume 8 to 12 ounces (1 to 1.5 cups) of milk without experiencing symptoms.

Although the degree of lactose intolerance varies, most people with lactose intolerance do not require a completely lactose free diet. Milk and milk products should not be completely eliminated because they provide key nutrients such as calcium, vitamins A and D, riboflavin, and phosphorus."

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
"Lactose Intolerance: Information for Health Care Providers,"
nichd.nih.gov
Jan. 2006


"Studies have suggested that some of the nutritional benefits of milk may be lost when a lactase-deficient [lactose intolerant] individual consumes milk. Not only does this person fail to receive the calories normally supplied by the undigested carbohydrates; resultant diarrhea may lead to loss of protein as well.

Two studies were conducted in groups of children with 'recurrent abdominal pain of childhood,' one study preformed in Boston and the other in San Francisco, came to a similar conclusion. The conclusion was that about one-third of such children had their symptoms on the basis of lactose intolerance. The simple solution was to remove all milk and milk-containing foods from the diet."

Frank A. Oski, MD
Former Director of the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University
Don't Drink Your Milk!
1996


5. Milk and Cancer

"A total of 26 studies focused on the association between dairy consumption and lung cancer risk were identified, and an additional 6 studies that reported the calcium intake and lung cancer risk were found, including 12 cohort studies and 20 case-control studies. Among them, 12 studies were conducted in Europe, 12 in the Americas, 7 in Asia, and 1 in the South Pacific...

In this meta-analysis [of 26 studies on dairy consumption and lung cancer risk], we found that the intake of dairy products, including total dairy, milk, cheese, yogurt, or low-fat milk, as well as calcium were not significantly associated with lung cancer risk. The association remained unchanged when stratified by study design, gender, geographic area, quality and smoking status. Our results are consistent with the findings from the largest cohort study (NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study), and this null association was also found in many other types of cancer, such as gastric, bladder and pancreatic cancers."

Yang Yang, MD, et al.
Department of Radiation Therapy, Zhejiang Cancer Hospital (China)
"Dairy Product, Calcium Intake and Lung Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis,"
nature.com
Feb. 15, 2016


"Recent scientific studies have suggested that dairy products may be linked to increased risk for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and possibly for ovarian and breast cancers...

In Harvard's Physicians Health Study, including more than 20,000 male physicians, those who consumed more than two dairy servings daily had a 34% higher risk of developing prostate cancer than men who consumed little or no dairy products...

For ovarian cancer, galactose, a component of the milk sugar lactose, has been under study as a possible culprit. A recent analysis of studies examining a relationship between dairy product consumption and ovarian cancer risk found that for every 10 grams of lactose consumed (the amount in one glass of milk), ovarian cancer risk increased by 13 percent."

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
"Ask the Expert: Dairy Products,"
pcrm.org
(accessed July 23, 2018)


6. Milk and Anemia (Iron Deficiency)

"Evidence suggests that calcium does not have any significant long-term effect on iron absorption. In addition, milk and milk products have not been found to affect iron absorption...

In a randomized crossover trial over 4 days, the consumption of a glass of milk with 3 main meals, or the consumption of calcium-fortified foods providing an equivalent amount of calcium, did not inhibit nonheme-iron absorption. In another study, it was found that the addition of milk or yogurt to a plant-based diet did not affect iron bioavailability [the degree to which a nutrient is absorbed and utilized by the body]."

Dairy Nutrition
"Calcium and Iron Absorption: Is There an Interaction?,"
dairynutrition.ca
(accessed July 23, 2018)


"Consumption of cow's milk (CM) by infants and toddlers has adverse effects on their iron stores, a finding that has been well documented in many localities. Several mechanisms have been identified that may contribute to iron deficiency in this young population group... [including] the inhibition of non-heme iron absorption by calcium and casein, both of which are present in high amounts in CM. Fortification of CM with iron, as practiced in some countries, can protect infants and toddlers against CM's negative effects on iron status... It is thus recommended that unmodified, unfortified CM not be fed to infants and that it be fed to toddlers in modest amounts only."

Ekhard Ziegler, MD
Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa
"Consumption of Cow's Milk as a Cause of Iron Deficiency in Infants and Toddlers,"
Nutrition Reviews
Nov. 2011


7. Milk and Bone Health

"A myth which often re-surfaces in media reports is that milk may not be beneficial to bone health. Bone health experts are concerned that this may be causing confusion among the general public and causing many people to avoid milk and dairy foods unnecessarily - when in fact they are among the best sources of bone-healthy nutrients...

- Dairy products, including milk, are an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, protein and other nutrients that are important both for bone and overall health...

- Evidence strongly supports the benefits of dairy products for bone and muscle health. Studies have shown that bone loss is reduced and there is an improvement in muscle mass and strength with adequate dairy intake.

- Milk and other dairy foods are the most readily available sources of calcium... It is important to note that people would need to eat numerous servings of kale or broccoli or other non-dairy foods to get the equivalent amount of calcium provided by just one serving of yoghurt, cheese, or milk."

International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF)
"Milk and Other Dairy Foods Are Good for Bone Health,"
iofbonehealth.org
Aug. 16, 2016


"American women aged 50 and older who consume more cow's milk and dairy products per person than the rest of the world have one of the highest rates of hip fractures. The only countries with higher hip fracture rates are Australia, New Zealand and those in Europe where they consume even more milk than the United States. Evidence for this was provided by Yale University School of Medicine researchers who summarized the data on protein consumption and bone fracture rates from 34 separate surveys in 16 countries...

Further support for the strong association between milk consumption and osteoporosis was provided by a study of 1,000 women aged 64 and up over a seven-year period conducted by scientists from the University of California at San Francisco... The women with the highest ratio of animal protein to plant protein had 3.7 times more bone fractures than the women with lowest ratio. Likewise, the women with the high ratio lost bone almost four times as fast as the women with the lowest ratio.

These observations therefore contradict the common wisdom that protein-rich foods especially milk protect our bones."

Emil Q. Javier, PhD
Former President of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) (Philippines)
"Whole Foods and Plant-Based Diets for Longer Healthier Lives (Part III),"
Manila Bulletin
Apr. 8, 2017


8. Milk and Calcium

"The largest source of dietary calcium for most persons is milk and other dairy products, which accounts for 72% of the calcium in the US food supply. Sixty-five percent of the dietary calcium intake in children in the United States is supplied by dairy products. Drinking three 8-oz glasses of milk per day will achieve the recommended adequate intake of calcium in children 4 to 8 years of age, and four 8- to 10-oz glasses of milk will provide the adequate calcium intake for adolescents... It is important to note that there is relatively little difference in the calcium content of reduced-fat dairy products compared with whole milk–derived products.

Most vegetables contain calcium, although at relatively low density. Thus, large servings are needed to equal the total intake achieved with typical servings of dairy products."

Frank R. Greer, MD and Nancy F. Krebs, MD
Professors of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Colorado
"Optimizing Bone Health and Calcium Intakes of Infants, Children, and Adolescents,"
Pediatrics
Feb. 2006


"Dairy products are not the best source of calcium as they cause calcium losses at the same time as increasing calcium intake. A third of the calcium absorbed from milk and more than two thirds of the calcium absorbed from cheese is wasted this way. In contrast, low oxalate green leafy vegetables such as kale and spring greens provide plenty of well absorbed calcium while at the same time reducing calcium losses. Calcium supplements lie in between in terms of their effect of retained calcium."

Stephen Walsh, PhD
Science Coordinator at the International Vegetarian Union
"Beyond Dairy and Calcium: The Truth About Diet and Bone Health,"
Vegsource
Apr. 26, 2007


9. Milk and Pus

"There is NOT pus in your milk. Sure, animal activist groups would like for you to believe that there is pus in milk, but what they are actually referring to is the level of white blood cells in milk.

White blood cells are infection fighters in the body. An elevated white blood cell count may indicate that the cow is fighting an infection, such as mastitis... The presence of white blood cells does not indicate a sick animal; some white blood cells are normal. Only when we see high levels of white blood cells does it become an issue. This is true of organic milk and conventional milk. Dairy farmers closely monitor white blood cell count and refer to it as Somatic Cell Count (SCC).

SCC is the main indicator of milk quality in the dairy industry, and farmers work hard to keep a low SCC... While the legal SCC limit in the U.S. is 750,000, most dairy co-ops and creameries require a SCC below 400,000. Because dairy farmers are financially rewarded for low herd SCC and penalized for high ones, most strive to have a SCC below 200,000.

Every load of milk is quality tested when it reaches the creamery to ensure that the milk you put on your table is the very best quality! In addition to SCC, milk is regularly tested for antibiotics and protein and fat content... There is not pus in your milk; just, normal white blood cells."

Annaliese Wegner
Dairy farmer
"There Is No Pus in Milk,"
fooddialogues.com
Aug. 7, 2017


"So how much pus is there in a glass of milk? Not much. A million cells per spoonful sounds like a lot, but pus is really concentrated. According to my calculations based on USDA data released last month, the average cup of milk in the United States would not be expected to contain more than a single drop of pus. As the dairy industry points out, the accumulation of pus is a natural part of an animal's defense system. So pus itself isn't a bad thing, we just may not want to have it in our mouth...

The U.S. dairy industry, however, insists that there is no food safety risk. If the udders of our factory-farmed dairy cows are inflamed and infected, industry folks say, it doesn't matter, because we pasteurize - the pus gets cooked. But just as parents may not want to feed their children fecal matter in meat even if it's irradiated fecal matter, they might not want to feed their children pasteurized pus."

Michael Greger, MD
Former Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture for the Humane Society
"How Much Pus Is There in Milk?,"
nutritionfacts.org
Sep. 8, 2011


10. Flavored Milk in Schools

"[T]he allegation that flavored milk contributes to obesity is factually incorrect. The opposite is actually the case: milk drinkers, even those that consume flavored milk, tend to weigh less, not more. According to a study published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, kids who drank milk were less likely to be overweight. This finding holds true no matter which flavor of milk kids consumed.

Schools that have removed flavored milk have seen a sharp decline in milk consumption, which is bad news for kids' nutrition since milk contains nine essential nutrients and three nutrients that American children tend to under-consume: calcium, potassium and vitamin D... total milk consumption dropped an average of 35 percent when flavored milk was eliminated. Consumption dropped because fewer students were selecting milk and more milk was thrown away…

Some argue that the nutrients lost when kids stop drinking milk can be replaced by other food sources. But to replace all the nutrients from one serving of flavored milk, schools would need to provide two ounces of cheese, one medium egg, one cup of fortified orange juice and a half cantaloupe over the course of a week. That adds up to a lot of extra calories and cost!

Eliminating excess sugar from kids' diets is a worthwhile goal. The added sugar in flavored milk is miniscule (less than 3% of a kid's daily sugar intake). We need to place the focus on what makes the most difference to a child's overall health. Flavored milk offers a practical way of ensuring that kids get all the nutrients they need, even if it takes a few more grams of sugar to do it."

Maureen Bligh, MA, RDN
Program Director at the Dairy Council of California
"Serving Flavored Milk in Schools,"
healthyeating.org
(accessed Sep. 20, 2018)


"[P]lacing flavored milk back in schools would be in direct opposition to any actions taken to help students to achieve greater academic success. And, when we consider a normal school day, we aren't just talking about one serving. A child could have up to four servings... This amounts to a total of 88 grams of added sugar per day - 3.5 times that amount the World Health Organization recommends...

[M]any would argue that while flavored milk has some drawbacks, drinking milk has many health benefits, and children are more likely to drink milk if it is flavored. In fact, some flavored milk providers actually market their products to schools by claiming that it can be beneficial for building muscle after a rigorous workout, and by making a comparison between the amount of sugar in flavored milk versus soda. These arguments are shortsighted and don't make much sense, however.

First, sugar has been shown to reduce the body's ability to absorb calcium. Thus any health advantages of milk are actually negated once sugar is added. And, second, if the measure for health is just having less sugar that soda, then we can say just about anything is healthy. We must do better...

Diminishing the health and well-being of our students by bringing back flavored milk is not displaying either."

Brent Walmsley, MA, MDiv
English teacher and Founder of SugarWatch
"An Open Letter to the LAUSD Board: Returning Flavored Milk Is an Unhealthy Step for Students,"
LA School Report website
June 8, 2016