Biology Question #3221

jake, a 31 year old male from Duluth/MN USA asks on February 7, 2006,

Can you verify the scientific validity of statements I've heard animal rights groups make, including that

  • cow milk consumption may cause, rather than prevent, osteoporosis. (as well as cancer)
  • it's improper to consume cow milk because "No other species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species. It’s just not natural!"
  • milk often contains "pus and blood". If any of this is true, does consuming organic or non-BgH make a difference?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on February 9, 2006

It appears more robust research has been conducted on this topic since 2006. The following responce has been updated (2020) to reflect this.

Some of those claims appear to be based on science but others are not. I will address each one of the issues below...

 

A. cow milk consumption may cause, rather than prevent, osteoporosis (as well as cancer).

A quick search on Google Scholar using keywords "cow milk" AND "osteoporosis" yields multiple links including:

- A 2016 article in Join, Bone, Spine, Volumn 84, Issue 3, May 2017, Pages 275-271 (Fardellone et. al. 2016)

- A 2006 article in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrician, Volumn 55, Pages 1105-1111 (Enatta et. al. 2006)

Searches using keywords "cow milk" AND "cancer" yeild:

- A 2006 article in Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrician 2007, Volumn 16, issue 3, pages 467-476 (Qin et. al. 2006).

- A 2019 article in the Journal of Food Additives and Contaminants 2019, Volumn 12, issue 1, pages 38-44 (Castro-Gonzalez et. al. 2019).

 

B. It's improper to consume cow milk because "No other species drinks milk beyond infancy or drinks the milk of another species. It’s just not natural!"

This is false. The Masai tribe of Africa drink milk all their lives. Many cultures drink and use goat milk all their lives. Countless peoples and cultures make and consume cheeses made of goat, sheep and cow milk. In addition it is common to give cats and kittens a saucer of milk or cream and they seem to enjoy it. So this claim must be wrong.

 

C. milk often contains "pus and blood".

Milk can contain a small amount of pus and blood, however regulatory bodies for the dairy industry ensure that this is monitored and levels are not allowed to go above some low acceptable amount. A good summary is available at Google Answers.

If any of this is true, does consuming organic or non-BgH make a difference?

In my opinion consuming BgH (Bovine Growth Hormone) milk is unwise. The use of BgH is banned in Canada and all of Europe. The United Nations has banned BgH milk. Hence, you might also be wise to avoid BgH milk in your diet.

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