Milk: The Next Greatest Serial Killer
When someone asks me what the two things I hate the most are, I respond by saying, “Stink bugs and milk.” Though my loathing of stink bugs is rational, most people believe my hate for milk is very odd. What they don’t understand is that milk and I have been enemies for almost two decades. It began when I was in daycare. The teachers used to always make us drink a glass of milk with our lunch. In the beginning, I played the pity card to try to get out of this task. I would take a sip and start to tear up and gag. They didn’t buy it. Then, I began to plead with them. I begged for them to not make me drink the glass of milk. Still, they made me drink it. Desperate and disgusted, I resorted to straight-up refusal. Everyday I sat at the lunch table long after the other children. I sat through recess, story-time, and other activities. I’d sit at that table until nap-time if I had to, I was not drinking that milk. I’ve always eaten my cereal dry, I’ve never dipped cookies in milk, and I’ve allowed my throat to burn after eating hot, spicy foods because I refused to drink milk. Sorry to keep going on about this. I’m sure you get it by now and are wondering why this is important. Well, knowing I was a strong advocate against milk, my doctors were always worried about my growth when I was younger. They expressed how important drinking milk was for my bone development. They always tried to convince me that drinking a few glasses of milk was not the end of the world and that I should give it a try. But a new study has revealed that drinking a few glasses of milk a day might actually cause more harm than good.
According to Medical Daily, a study from Sweden insists that large consumptions of milk can cause an increased risk in mortality rates and bone fractures. The swedish study followed 106,772 people (45,339 men between the ages of 45 and 79 and 61,433 women between the ages of 39 and 74). The men were only tracked for 11 years, while the women were tracked for 20. The press release explains that lifestyle information, weight and height, and education proficiency levels were considered in this study. The study showed that risk of fracture was not reduced by milk consumption. It also showed that men and women who consumed more than three glasses (or 1400 mg) of milk a day had a higher mortality rate, particularly from cardiovascular complications. Men and women who drank less than a glass a day (600 mg) were not at a higher risk of death (boo ya!).
The study isn’t completely perfect. The researcher, Karl Michaëlsson, and his team warn that people should not interpret the results as, “milk causes death” because they still need more information.
The study as described is observational. It does seem to take confounding variables into consideration, and is certainly a very large-scale study. However, it cannot rule out reverse causation. Are people with bad hearts more-likely to drink more milk? Also, other dairy products do not have the same effects as milk. Therefore, it might not be the ingredients of milk, but rather the ingestion process of the beverage. The age ranges of the people studied and amount of time each person is tracked should be controlled better and kept the same regardless of gender.
But the study is intriguing in another way. Although there is not enough evidence to support that milk causes an increase in death, the study also found that people who drank more milk had more fractures.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, people who believe in drinking milk everyday claim it prevents osteoporosis and bone fractures. It goes on to say that along with exercise, vitamin intake, and exposure to sunshine, consuming 1,000 mg of calcium a day is enough to prevent osteoporosis. But you do not need to drink milk to get calcium. In fact, saveourbones believes that drinking milk can actually reduce our calcium levels in our bones. This concept is a little hard to understand, so I’ll try my best to simplify it. You probably already know that there is calcium in our bones. What you may not know is that calcium is a natural acid reducer. Most people believe that milk is a base, but it is actually slightly acidic (6.7 on the pH scale) in comparison to other drinks. In order for our bodies to reduce the acid in the milk we consume, it draws from the natural acid-reducer in our bodies, a.k.a. the calcium in our bones. Therefore, drinking milk actually causes a reduction in calcium in our bones, which causes weaker bones, which causes an increased chance of getting fractures and osteoporosis.
I have also found studies that claim milk might cause certain cancers. Basically, they say that cancer can be caused by high amounts of galactose, a sugar used to breakdown lactose, in the body. There is still a lot more research that needs to be done before I contribute these findings to my blog, but it is certainly a theory to keep in mind.
I have concluded from this information that drinking one glass of milk a day is fine; however, I’m still not going to do it. For everyone else who enjoys milk, just make sure to keep it at a glass or two a day. The swedish study from earlier only found danger in consuming more than 3 glasses of milk a day, and your body will only take a small amount of calcium from your bones to help process each glass. It is probably best to get the majority of your calcium through other dairy products. They taste better, smell better, and none of the articles I read contribute them to any of these adverse side effects. Although these findings seem hard to believe, remember these three things: cigarette smoking was once prescribed by doctors, Sigmund Freud claimed that cocaine was “magical,” and it took almost 100 years for scientist to realize that DNA is important. As science advances, we learn more and more about our bodies. In 20-years-time, milk might be sold on the black market. It might also remain a staple food item in households. Until further research is found, be wary of how much milk you are drinking each day.