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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Is Dairy Really Bad for You After All?

In my 28-part series (28? Oh, yeah. Really. 28.) on the NIH state-of-the-science conference on Lactose Intolerance, I summarized presentation after presentation that said that Americans needed calcium in their diets to prevent a wide variety of health and bone issues, that they weren't getting this calcium from their current diets, and that they should therefore have more dairy products to get the needed calcium.

It's only fair to say that other distinguished scientists disagree not only with the conclusion, but with the premise. Calcium does not help with these disorders and dairy is not necessary.

Google News threw up - a bad choice of words, sorry - a link to an article that covered this. That link has vanished as mysteriously as it appeared, but I tracked down the original. It appeared in January on Mark Hyman's Ultrawellness site titled Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at all Costs.

He cites the work of Walter C. Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health is listing those six reasons.

1. Milk doesn't reduce fractures. Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses' Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!

2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

3. Calcium isn't as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man's risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, dairy consumption increases the body's level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) -- a known cancer promoter.

5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn't. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world's population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products -- a problem called lactose intolerance.

Hyman's name rang a bell so I searched back through my posts to find Detox Your Brain, Not Your Diet. Oh, him. Detoxification is serious quackery. He's also one of those who think that diet is the way to treat autism and his thinking on it is just as bad as his opinions on detox, as this post from ScienceBlogs should make abundantly clear. Hyman uses cites and references as magicians do hand gestures, purely as distraction. If you go to the Ultrawellness site or read any of Hyman's many books, be sure to detoxify your brain afterward.

Does that mean the Willett therefore is also a quack? Not at all. But Willett is more interesting than a simplistic anti-dairy crusader. I'll take that up tomorrow.

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1 comment:

Lyssachelle said...

The post is up at Huffington Post also; I coincidentally I had it open at the same time I saw this post. I see him on HP regularly, the man is FULL of advice that sounds good at first, but quickly steers off into "Huh??" territory...