“Milk…..It Does A Body Good,” Popular Television Commercial Tag Line from the American Dairy Board.
“Milk is for babies,” Often quoted line from early Arnold musings.
The debate over the safety and use of milk has raged for over a decade. Proponents of milk cite its high protein and nutrient content as a main reason for drinking milk. Opponents counter with claims citing high fat contents, digestive disorders associated with lactose intolerance, respiratory distress from increased mucus production and so forth. Proponents counter claim that lactose intolerance is a highly exaggerated condition, that many milk products are low or non fat, etc.
The newest debate over milk is probably the most serious yet; it’s rBST content. rBST is short for a genetically engineered version of naturally occurring growth hormone called recombinant bovine somatotropin. Most of the cows in the United States are treated with this drug due to the fact that it increases milk production. But is it safe?
Dr. Samuel Epstein, a University of Illinois physician says, no way. For the last couple of years, he has been contending, based on a review of over 60 studies of the drug, that it puts people at greater risk for developing certain cancers such as breast and colon cancer. He bases his arguments on the fact that milk from rBST treated cows has significantly higher amounts of a naturally occurring hormone called IGF-1, or insulinlike growth factor-1. He cites studies suggesting IGF-1 is associated with stimulation of growth in both cancer and non-cancer cells.
The flip cite of this argument is championed by both the drug’s maker Monsanto Corporation and by the FDA itself. They believe that Epstein is flat out wrong about IGF-1 increasing in cow’s milk who have been treated with rBST. Further, they argue that there is no evidence that IGF-1 stimulates the transformation of normal cells to malignant ones. In fact, they have gone as far as to imply that Epstein is irresponsible and engaging in unwarranted scare tactics.
What do you think?
Our opinion…..let’s review the players here. Dr. Epstein is a physician associated with a Public Health Division of a leading medical University, Monsanto is a leading chemical engineering company and the FDA is the Federal Agency in charge of our health.
It appears to us that all the players are behaving consistently. The good Doctor is doing what many Doctors do well; that is, play “Paul Revere”, only without the correct facts. Doctors are trained mainly to pick people in crisis up off the floor and to diagnose problematic conditions after they occur. Rarely are they as schooled in preventative approaches and even more rarely do they have to have expert command of research design, experimental methodology and statistical analyses. Looking at the actual data, perhaps, true methodologists might definitely say that Dr. Epstein need revisit the data.
Secondly, the chemical engineers at Monsanto. We can forgive them designing artificial sweeteners because they are responsible for one of our all-time favorite food products, micropore buds. Maybe someday MCT’s ensconced in micropore buds will be as popular as micropore bud laden Kool-Aid. But for whatever their faults, these people generally know their stuff. And their facts and the facts of the independents support the belief that perhaps rBST milt isn’t exactly a carcinogenic time bomb ready to cripple the unsuspecting world.
Finally, the good ole’ boys in Fredricksburg, the FDA. As usual, they play follow the leader aligning themselves behind the bigger player (and budget). We’ve seen it happen hundreds of times and this is no different. A predictable lot they are; it just so happens that accidentally this time they probably ended up supporting the correct facts. By chance alone, it has to happen every so often.
So stop panicking over rest. Especially if the fear factor causes you to forget to buckle your seatbelt when you drive, causes you to smoke a few extra cigarettes, breathe more rapidly in our urban air or switch to Jack Daniel’s instead of Borden. All those things are likely to kills you long before rBST ever drives your cells carcinogenically crazy. But if you really must know, we don’t think you should drink too much milk for other reasons. In fact, whenever possible, just avoid pasteurized products all together. The facts there are pretty clear, you’ll have a happier, longer lasting cardio-vascular system.