Millions and millions of people drink cow’s milk every day. Milk has become an apparent necessity in an abundance of peoples’ lives. Many people use milk for breakfast such as on cereal, putting in their coffee or simply as a glass of milk with toast. At most grocery stores, the choices are fat free, one percent, two percent, and whole milk. It is believed that milk as a source of calcium leads to strong bones, but this belief has its detractors and has become controversial.
Advertisements such as “Got Milk” have brainwashed us into thinking that we “need” it.
But most of the time this cow’s milk is contaminated with growth hormones and pesticides. In addition, pasteurization destroys almost all the nutritional value in cow’s milk. The disadvantages to drinking cow’s milk far outweigh the advantages. Drinking milk causes increasing health problems, and may even lead to an over-intake of calcium which can be just as problematic as not enough.
In the late 19th century, a growing number of influential people throughout the country believed that American cities had a milk problem. Newspaper articles exposed the appalling conditions in which cows were fed swill.
The situation was known as “the milk problem”. (Group III) Named after Louis Pasteur, pasteurization is a process that requires heating the milk to kill bacteria and prevent spoilage. It was introduced for safety reasons, but because of the way it depletes the milk, pasteurization has led to many health problems throughout the world. Pasteurized milk is said to be much safer than raw milk and produce less health problems. But how could it be when rBGH is injected into cows causing them to produce between ten and twenty percent more milk?
RBGH-treated animals have a 25 percent greater chance of developing mastitis (a potentially deadly inflammation of the udder), an 18 percent greater chance of becoming infertile, and a 50 percent greater chance of becoming lame. (Debating the Safety) And if one thinks about it, it is disturbing to think we drink the milk that comes from those cows. Prostate and breast cancers have been linked to consumption of pasteurized milk, mainly related to increases in a compound called insulin-like growth factors. Milk consumption can also contribute to significant amounts of fat and cholesterol in our bodies.
(Markoff) Statistics have also shown that low milk intake during childhood was associated with a higher chance of low bone density leading to osteoporosis. But statistics have also shown that overly high milk intake during childhood increased the chance of low bone density! (Kalkworf 257-265) Along with bone density, women in the U. S. are the biggest consumers of milk in the world, yet have the highest levels of osteoporosis. (Karpf) Children grow up drinking cow’s milk as part of their everyday life not knowing that it is harmful to them and their future health. Cow’s milk can impair a child’s ability to absorb iron.
Combined with the fact that milk has virtually no iron of its own, the result is an increased risk of iron deficiency. Children can also have reactions to milk proteins that show up as respiratory problems and skin conditions. (Markoff) Cow’s milk proteins are a common cause of colic, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that there is evidence that cow’s milk may well contribute to childhood-onset diabetes. As well as diabetes, obesity has become a problem in the United States. Consumption of pasteurized cow’s milk has contributed to this due to the high level of saturated fat in it.
(Kalkworf) Osteoporosis can be caused by not enough calcium, but also by too much calcium. That is because once bones become saturated with too much calcium the ability to absorb more is inhibited. As many children grow they start showing signs of osteoporosis and it is from unstable calcium levels. Pasteurized cow’s milk is a very common food source of calcium. But there are other food sources than milk and dairy products that provide calcium. Foods such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds, fish and shellfish, and supplements all are a source of calcium.
Calcium sources such as spinach, sesame seeds and almonds have even more calcium than milk. (Jamerson) Humans are the only mammals that drink another animal’s milk. There are many other milk alternatives such as soy, almond and coconut. One reason that cow’s milk is not as beneficial as a fortified alternative is that milk contains lactose making it more acidic. Approximately seventy-five percent of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, which means that they are unable to fully digest dairy products. Lactase is the enzyme needed to digest lactose, and most people stop producing it around the age of 5.
(Calcium and Milk) Another reason cow’s milk is not beneficial is its nutritional value. When cow’s milk is pasteurized it kills bacteria but it also destroys the healthful nutrients, increasing sugars and fats and transforming proteins into unnatural amino acids that are less than healthy, therefore producing less calcium. (Mercola) Ever since we were young, we believed that milk was good for us and our parents always told us, “Drink your milk, so you grow up to be strong and healthy. ” It is true that calcium builds strong bones, but it doesn’t mean that the amount in cow’s milk necessarily does.
Due to pasteurization, cow’s milk is said to have less calcium. (Mercola) It is often argued that pasteurized cow’s milk is much safer than other milk due to the killing of bacteria and pesticides. Of course, many would consider the benefits; however, pasteurization kills the good bacteria and much of the nutrients to provide a healthful diet. (Debating the Safety) Opposing views claim that cow’s milk helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In fact, they go as far as claiming that it will completely prevent osteoporosis and help strengthen bones. On the other hand, statistics show that consumers of milk have a greater chance of osteoporosis.
(Karpf) Cow ownership and the many resources cows provide have been a part of our history for centuries. Cow’s milk has been a mainstay in the human diet. For most of this time it was raw milk that was consumed, and it was not until the last hundred years that pasteurization came into play. By this time, milk as a fundamental in our diet had been established, so making it safer by killing harmful bacteria seemed a great idea. However, drinking pasteurized cow’s milk has led to a complex array of health problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes, colic, lactose intolerance, and osteoporosis.
There is disagreement over the amount of calcium actually in cow’s milk, and whether or not consumption of cows’ milk contributes to osteoporosis. Although making milk safer to drink, pasteurization is said to compromise the nutritional value of milk, and therefore alternative calcium sources should be considered. Cow’s milk truly does not provide the benefits that the “Got Milk” commercials would like us to believe. Works Cited “Calcium and Milk: What’s Best for Your Bones and Health? ” Harvard School of Public Health. President and Fellows of Harvard College, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013. . “Debating the Safety of Milk from rBGH-Treated Cows (sidebar). ”
Facts on File Issues and Controversies. Facts on File, 12 Feb. 1999. Web. 14 Feb. 2013. . Group III, Edward F. , Dr. “Pasteurized vs. Raw Milk: Which One Is Healthier for You & Your Family? ” Global Healing Center: Natural Health and Organic Living. Global Healing Center, 28 Sept. 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. . Jamerson, Ann. “Sources of Calcium Other Than Milk. ” Livestrong. Demand Media, 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. . Kalkworf, Heidi J. , Jane C. Khoury, and Bruce P.Lanphear.
“Milk intake during childhood and adolescence, adult bone density, and osteoporotic fractures in US women. ” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 77 (2003): 257-65. Print. Karpf, Anne. “Dairy Monsters. ” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 12 Dec. 2003. Web. 11 Feb. 2013. . Markoff, Steven C. “Is Drinking Milk Healthy for Humans. ” ProCon. N. p. , 6 Aug. 2009. Web. 11 Feb. 2013. . Mercola, Joseph, Dr. “Why You Shouldn’t Drink Pasteurized Milk. ” Huffington Post. HuffingtonPost, 3 June 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.