One of the better books I have ready recently is The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford. This book shares about the risks involved with consuming cows milk, most especially the strong links between milk consumption and cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
There is a hormone called Insulin Growth Factor which is produced by the liver and it is usually a perfectly normal hormone… when produced by our bodies as required. Our bodies produce it mostly during childhood and puberty, and very little during adulthood. Milk contains rich amounts of Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). The higher a woman’s IGF-1 level is, the higher her risk for breast cancer. Ditto for men and prostate cancer. Our bodies aren’t designed to be eating sources of this stuff in adulthood. I haven’t gone into detail about oestrogen potency or bovine growth hormone etc., so if you’d like to know more you can read Dr. Holford’s book. Regarding cardiovascular disease and milk, it is nothing to do with the fat content and everything to do with the poor calcium to magnesium ratio, and the presence of an anti-milk antibody in our blood.
What I find interesting is that the chances of a woman in the UK dying of breast cancer is 1 in 10; in China it is 1 in 10 000. The incidence of prostate cancer is 0.5 in 100 000 men in rural China, and 1 in 4 in the UK. When Chinese people emigrate to Europe their risk rises to similar levels, which indicates that this is a diet and lifestyle issue, rather than one of genetics.
I don’t have cows milk in my house, and my children will not be milk drinkers. InformedPapa and I have switched to rice milk, and it’s really been no big deal. I haven’t gone completely dairy free because I have yoghurt each day for the probiotic benefits. I also don’t apologise for occasionally eating food which may happen to contain small amounts of dairy. But in my day-to-day life, and that of my children, we’ll get our calcium elsewhere and leave cow’s milk for calves.
EDITED FEBRUARY 2013: In the time since I wrote this post I have learned about the healing benefits of full-fat raw dairy and have rethought my position on this topic. I have been buying raw milk directly from a local farm where the jersey cows are 100% pasture-raised and free to graze. I use it to make yoghurt and usually in a smoothie each day, certainly not copious amounts. I still choose not to consume or feed my family pastuerised or homogenised cows’ milk and should raw milk become difficult to source for me then I would switch back to a non-dairy option.