By Dr Justine Butler, Senior Health Researcher & Writer, Viva!Health
Milk is the first food that we consume, our mother’s breast milk if we are fortunate, if not then specially formulated substitutes based on cow's or soya milk are generally used in the UK.
We associate milk with comfort and nurturing and consider milk to be a wholesome nutrient-rich component of the diet that is essential for normal growth and development, which for a baby it is.
However, all other mammals on the planet are weaned off milk at an early age, whereas some humans continue drinking milk into adulthood. Not only that, we drink the milk of another species, something no other mammal does.
To be fair, contrary to popular belief, most people (around 70 percent of the world's population) do not drink milk – it would make them ill. But in the UK, we are a nation of milk drinkers, along with most other northern European countries and North America.
Infants, the young, adolescents, adults and the aged all consume large quantities of milk, cheese, butter and yogurt every year. But why are we so convinced that milk is some kind of wonder food?
Milk, it seems, can help you lose weight; it can also make you gain weight. Milk promotes healthy skin; it may also cause acne. You need milk for good bone health, but the incidence of osteoporosis is highest in countries that consume the most milk. These conflicting reports leave us confused and unsure who to believe.
The dairy industry invests millions in milk advertising and promotion. It could be argued that it presents a biased view motivated by financial interest. An increasing amount of scientific evidence now shows that cow's milk is not the wonder food the dairy industry would have us believe.
This research goes further in linking the consumption of cow’s milk to a wide range of health problems. Many people, even health professionals, may find it hard to be objective about the detrimental impact of dairy products on health described in this report because of the emotional attachment many of us have to the idea that milk is natural and healthy.
The White Lies report redresses the balance by presenting and reviewing the research on the health effects of cow’s milk and dairy products.
It combines the findings of over 400 scientific papers from reputable peer-reviewed journals such as the British Medical Journal and the Lancet. The research is clear – the consumption of cow's milk and dairy products is linked to the development of teenage acne, allergies, arthritis, some cancers, colic, constipation, coronary heart disease, Crohn's disease, diabetes, dementia, ear infection, food poisoning, gallstones, kidney disease, migraine, autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis, overweight, obesity and osteoporosis. Read the evidence for yourself!
To read the report go to: www.vivahealth.org.uk/resources/scientific-reports/white-lies
Viva!Health is a part of the vegan charity Viva!. We monitor scientific research linking diet to health and provide accurate information on which you can make informed choices about the food you eat. www.vivahealth.org.uk