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

1. Doctor's Advice on Milk

"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. Realistically, children eat or drink dairy products in greater amounts and more consistently than other foods. While whole milk is not the only way to get calcium in a child's diet, it's the most practical way."

Bill Sears, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California Irvine
"Milk" on

"There was a time when it [milk] 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."

Benjamin Spock, MD
Pediatrician and best selling author
"Good Nutrition for Kids" in Good Medicine Magazine
Spring-Summer 1998

2. Milk and Heart Disease

"The men with the greater consumption of milk experienced a reduction in the risk of ischaemic [inadequate blood flow] stroke and a possible reduction in ischaemic heart disease risk. Explanations of these results other than a beneficial effect of milk would seem to be unlikely. The present perception of milk as harmful, in increasing cardiovascular risk, should be challenged and every effort should be made to restore it to its rightful place in a healthy diet."

Peter Elwood, MD
Professor of Epidemiology at Cardiff University
"Milk Consumption, Stroke, and Heart Attack Risk: Evidence from the Caerphilly Cohort of Older Men,"
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

"Several studies have been published showing a high positive correlation between milk consumption in different countries and rates of death a few years later from CHD [Coronary Heart Disease]. One investigation showed that countries which reduced milk consumption later had reduced rates of CHD death, while the only country studied which increased its milk consumption [Portugal] had an increased rate of CHD death."

Margaret Moss, MA
Director of the Nutrition and Allergy Clinic in Manchester, UK
"Does Milk Cause Coronary Heart Disease?,"
Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine Sep. 1, 2002

3. 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"
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 Oski
Former Director of the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University
Don't Drink Your Milk!

4. Milk and Cancer

"This is the first clinical trial to show that boosting vitamin D status can affect the overall risk for cancer - a proposition that has tremendous public health potential.

By choosing vitamin-D rich foods like milk and taking a supplement Americans can help improve their vitamin D levels and potentially impact their cancer risk."

Joan Lappe, PhD
Director of Clinical and Pediatric Studies at Creighton University
"Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation Reduces Cancer Risk: Results of a Randomized Trial,"
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 2007

"One reason milk consumption may lead to cancer risk is insulin-like growth factor, IGF-1 (not to be confused with bovine growth hormone, rBGH). Milk contains IGF-1 for good reason: milk is designed for babies, and IGF-1 helps us grow. IGF-1 affects growth, as well as other functions, and is normally found in our blood. Higher levels of IGF-1, however, appear to stimulate cancer cells."

Alison Stewart
Editor of the Consumer Health Journal "Hormones in Milk Are Linked to Cancer"
Consumer Health Journal
Mar. 2004

5. Milk and Bone Health

"Findings from ongoing studies indicate that four to five servings/day of calcium-rich foods such as milk and other dairy products are needed to optimize peak bone mass during adolescence. Osteoporosis is a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences. With low calcium intake levels during important bone growth periods, today's youth faces a serious public health problem in the future."

Connie M. Weaver, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Food and Nutrition, Purdue University
"Bone Health Hazards: The Make-It-Or-Break-It Teenage Years" (in "Calcium Summit II: Agenda for Action,"
on the National Dairy Council website
Jan. 2002

"There is much debate over whether long-term consumption of dairy products helps bones at all. A good deal of evidence suggests that it does not. Several studies of teenagers have found that their adult bone health is related to their physical activity level earlier in life, but not to the amount of milk or calcium they consumed. Milk consumption is apparently no help later in life either."

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
"Parents' Guide to Building Better Bones,"
June 21, 2007

6. 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,"
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,"
Apr. 26, 2007

7. Synthetic Hormones in Milk

"FDA [Food and Drug Administration] is concerned that the term 'rbST-free' [synthetic bovine growth hormone free] may imply a compositional difference between milk from treated and untreated cows rather than a difference in the way the milk is produced... Such unqualified statements may imply that milk from untreated cows is safer or of higher quality than milk from treated cows. Such an implication would be false and misleading.

There is currently no way to differentiate analytically between naturally occurring bST and recombinant bST in milk, nor are there any measurable compositional differences between milk from cows that receive supplemental bST and milk from cows that do not."

Food and Drug Administration
"Interim Guidance on the Voluntary Labeling of Milk and Milk Products From Cows That Have Not Been Treated With Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin,"
Feb. 14, 1994

"It is well known that rBGH [synthetic bovine growth hormone] increases levels of another growth hormone, IGF-1, which is identical in cows and humans. At elevated levels, IGF-1 is known to increase cancer rates in humans.

Most of the industrialized nations of the world, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all 25 nations of the European Union, have disallowed the use of rBGH, based primarily on human and animal health concerns. The Codex Alimentarius, the U.N.'s main food safety body, has concluded there is NO consensus that rBGH is safe for human consumption."

Martin Donohoe
Rick North
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
"Errors in MSNBC Story on Organic Milk"
Aug. 31, 2006

8. Flavored Milk in Schools

"Unflavored milk is lower in sugar than flavored milk. However, given the importance of calcium, vitamin D and other key ingredients in the diet of children and adolescents, flavored milks could be a nice alternative since the contribution of added sugars to the overall diet of young children is minimal."

American Academy of Pediatrics
"Clearing Up Confusion on Role of Dairy in Children's Diets"
AAP News
June 2000

"Flavored milks are not a particularly healthy beverage option for children or teens. As with unflavored cow's milk, flavored cow's milk is a significant source of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in children's diets. The naturally occurring sugar in cow's milk is lactose, a type of sugar that is not well-digested by many children after about age 4. Flavored milks also have sugar added, often to the point where, ounce for ounce, they contain the same amount of total sugar as soda."

Amy Lanou, MD
Senior Nutrition Scientist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Sep. 25, 2007 e-mail to

9. Conventional Non-Organic Milk

"There is no difference between organic and regular milk. Both contain the same unique package of nutrients that makes dairy products an important part of a healthy diet. An 8-ounce serving of organic or regular milk offers the same amount of nine essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium...

Strict government standards ensure that regular milk is just as pure, safe, and nutritious as organic milk..."

National Dairy Council
A national milk marketing organization
"Organic Milk: FAQ,"
Mar. 15, 2007

"Organically reared cows, which eat high levels of fresh grass, clover pasture and grass cover silage, produced milk which is on average 50% higher in vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), 75% higher in beta carotene (which our bodies convert to vitamin A) and two to three times higher in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthine than non-organic milk... In addition, we found higher levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids."

Jacob H. Nielsen, PhD
Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences
"Healthier Organic Livestock Products: Antioxidants in Organic and Conventional Produced Milk,"
Presentation at the First Annual EU Project Quality Low Input Food and Soil Association Annual Conference
Jan. 2005

10. Pasteurized vs. Raw Milk

"Although some people claim that 'raw' milk possesses positive nutritional and health-promoting attributes, these claims have not been scientifically substantiated. USDA, FDA, Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] and many other scientific authorities recommend against consumption of 'raw' milk. 'Raw' milk can contain a variety of microorganisms that can be harmful and even fatal to people - including bacteria campylobacter, Escherichia, listeria, salmonella, yersinia and brucella. Pasteurization, however, destroys any harmful microorganisms and renders milk safe for everyone to consume."

Washington Dairy Products Commission
Dairy promotion organization
"What Is Milk?," Apr. 4, 2007

"While it is certainly possible to become sick from drinking contaminated raw milk, it is also possible to become sick from almost any food source. But it seems that raw milk has been unfairly singled out as a risk, when only a very small risk exists...

Raw milk is an outstanding source of nutrients including beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus, vitamins and enzymes, and it is, in my estimation, the finest source of calcium available...People who have been allergic to pasteurized milk for many years can typically tolerate and even thrive on raw milk."

Joseph Mercola, DO
Osteopathic Physician
"The Real Reasons Why Raw Milk Is Becoming More Popular,"
Apr. 24, 2004