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The Link Between Dairy Products and Cancer (and Obesity)
I first became aware of the link between dairy and cancer when I was reading Professor Jane Plant’s book “Your Life In Your Hands” (for access see my page, Recommended Reading). Professor Plant is a breast cancer survivor herself (she had it several times) and has this to say about dairy and cancer:
“…cow’s milk, although an ideal food for young bovines, is far from ideal for adult humans. But how could dairy products be linked to breast and prostate cancer? I believe that the evidence suggests that consuming dairy products (milk and meat), including low fat products such as yoghurt, does indeed increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer in exposed populations. When I eliminated all dairy products from my diet, a large ‘secondary’ tumor comprising cancer cells in the lymph nodes in my neck, which was thought to be incurable, disappeared in weeks. For me, this is pretty compelling evidence.”
(Prof J Plant, “Your Life In Your Hands”, Virgin Publishing Ltd, 2000, p. 92).
Insulin-Like Growth Factors and Growth Hormones
There are powerful chemicals in cow’s milk known as growth factors. One particular growth factor, IGF-1 (stands for insulin-like growth factor), causes cells to increase in size and promotes cell proliferation. Baby bovines need this. Human adults do not, particularly if they are already battling cancer.
To further muddy the waters (or the milk), farmers have taken to using a synthetic bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to keep up with the demand for dairy products. The effect of rBGH on lactating cows is to increase their secretions, blood flow, nutrient uptake and milk synthesis.
What rBGH does in humans is still being studied but as early as 1985 scientists reported changes in the proportion of the natural fatty acids found in milk. What they do know is that rBGH releases extra quantities of IG-F which, as previously noted, causes an increase in size of cells and proliferation and you don’t want this happening if you’re actively fighting cancer.
The bottom line is, if you have cancer you really should avoid dairy products completely. For this society, it’s a hard thing to do. I know, because I’ve tried it. Now that I’m cancer free I allow myself small quantities of organic cheeses and occasionally organic sour cream. There’s a great substitute for ice cream – totally non-dairy – made from organic coconut milk. I also highly recommend replacing cow’s milk with a combination of almond and coconut milks. It’s quite palatable! Give it a try.
If you would like to receive my best tips on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences, just sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach). I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.
I’m also trying to cut down on milk because of the articles that I have read about it but what do you think of whey protein for exercise which is supposed to increase human growth hormone? Would spirulina be substitute due to the fact that it contains protein?
Also what do you think of colostrum, I’m very interested in the health benefits and have purchased it already but i’m not sure now if it would be like drinking milk every day 🙁
Hi Janine, thanks for your comment. I will send you a private message answering your questions.
I’d like to hear your reply to Janine too, Marnie!
Hi Katharine –
Okay, here it is. Whey protein is actually good. Studies report that whey protein may reduce the risk of various cancers, including breast and colon cancer. Spirulina is also good but should be organic so there is no pesticide or herbicide residue. Colostrum you need to be careful with because of the fact that the animal it comes from needs to be raised on organic farms with no rBGH or GMOs. Colostrum really isn’t what you want for boosting immunity, what you need is Transfer Factors. These are not colostrum but are found within colostrum. They are the tiny amino acid sequences that actually convey immune system memory and education from mother to child. If you want more information, just contact me!
Thanks for your reply Marnie. However, now I have yet ANOTHER question: Why would whey protein be healthy? Wouldn’t it contain the growth hormones etc that dairy would have?
You do need to be very cautious, and I should have stated that. There are some companies that carefully monitor their whey protein, and others who don’t. One such company that does the right thing is Life Extension Foundation, and here is an article that they put out 10 years ago on the subject of hormones and whey protein. http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2004/aug2004_qanda_01.htm
I hope this helps you, and please let me know if you are looking for a good safe protein powder, there are a couple besides Life Extension Foundation (but theirs is definitely a good one).
Thank you so much, being hormone positive this information has been great. Do you have any books with good recipes you can recommend .
So glad I have made contact with you. Have learned so much from you already.
I’m glad you are enjoying my information. As it happens, I do have a great recommendation for a great cancer cookbook – it’s called Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen and I have a link to it on my page “Recommended Reading”. I’m glad you made contact with me as well!
Marnie, thank you for your work. Two questions…what about organic eggs if one has breast cancer? Second, I just finished radiation for a skin reoccurrence so do you consider that “cancer free?” I appreciate your thoughts and time, Ellen.
Organic eggs are great, much preferable to the ordinary battery-laid eggs and you’ll notice the difference in size and quality too. Re the skin cancer, does your doctor consider that you have received all of the treatment that you need to have? If not, I would err on the side of caution. I hope that answers your question. You might want to sign up for my newsletters, I share all of my best information in them.
Thank you very much for all the information you sent
You are very welcome!
Thank you for your emails. You are a terrific human being, and I am excited I found this website.
The topic of IGF-1 is of interest to me, since I am at high risk for Ovarian Cancer as well, and Lactose effects Ovary Cells as well.
I am a big fan of Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (don’t agree 100% on everything), and the President, Dr. Neal Barnard MD, would like to see people go vegan due to our tainted food supply, and our health crisis. He’s an east west medicine guy. Gotta love that!
One last comment. Intermittent Fasting (long bouts without eating) is showing promise with chemo patients, shrinking tumors quicker. USC has completed a study, among other universities.
This is a great community of women. Thank you, Marine, for all your hard work.
Thank you so much Marnie for the information on meat and dairy. My husband is actually allergic to the proteins in beef and pork (due to a tick bite) so we only eat organic or antibiotic free chicken and turkey and wild caught salmon and tuna. Do feel a serving daily is ok?
I was also wondering how to get enough calcium if dairy products are eliminated from ones daily diet? Is a calcium supplement necessary? Thank you again for all the helpful information.
I’m glad you found the information in my article to be helpful. One serving per day of organic chicken, turkey or wild caught fish is good but there are some surprising things in the plant world that contain high amounts of calcium, for instance: chia seeds, kale, blackstrap molasses, hemp milk, tahini, figs, Navy beans, amaranth – get used to incorporating these sorts of things into your diet for additional calcium. If you are worried about whether or not you need a calcium supplement as well, you might like to do a nutritional consult with me. Drop me an email to inquire about that, I’d be glad to work with you.
Hi Marnie, I’ve cut out dairy products almost entirely since my breast cancer was diagnosed earlier this year. I am considered cancer-free, thank God, at this point.
I do have a question about using high quality organic yogurt and cheese made from either goat or sheep milk. Would these be occasional acceptable options or would they contain IGF-1 just like the cow milk products we should avoid? It’s difficult to avoid all dairy as you note.
Thank you so much for all your helpful articles and tips. I reference them regularly. And I’m so glad I signed up for your Toxic Free Me online course.
I’m glad you are enjoying Toxic Free Me! Great news. With regard to your question, I have had a look at some of the research and what it shows is that while sheep or goat milk has far less estrogen and IGF-1 than cow’s milk, their milk still does contain both. The milk of goats/sheep is considered to be a lower risk for breast cancer, but would, because of that, still pose a small risk. My advice is to only consume it occasionally, and make sure it’s organic. Hope that helps!