This question is about the potential pros or cons of dairy consumption in terms of cancer risk. Most of us know the view of L. Cordain, one of the founders of paleo nutrition, on dairy and milk: since these foods were not available to humans until the beginning of the neolithic, chances are that most of us suffer some sort of problem from its consumption, at least in the long run. To quote him "In humans, milk drinking elevates a hormone called IGF-1 which increases growth in children, resulting in an increased adult stature, but it also increases the risk for breast, colon and most particularly prostate cancer. How milk drinking increases IGF-1 is not completely known, but two mechanisms have been proposed: 1) bovine milk contains IGF-1 which crosses the human gut barrier, and 2) IGF-1 concentrations in human blood vary with insulin ??? because milk increases the insulin response so dramatically, then this response in turn may increase IGF-1.". I have also found some studies that share this view like this one on prostate cancer risk: http://www.ajcn.org/content/74/4/549.short
On the other hand (in his "twelve steps...") K. Harris states that, as long as we stick to cream or butter, since these products contain very little or no casein and lactose, the health problems associated with milk will not show up, and we would enjoy the significant nutritional advantages of dairy. While currently I am drinking heavy cream I must say that I feel somehow concerned about the science behind this (i.e. I am not sure whether we have enough information) in particular when it comes to cancer risk, one of the greatest health hazards that we face in the modern world. I would appreciate to know whether you are aware of reliable studies on cancer risk and dairy, in particular as it applies to cream, cheeses or butter.
asked byPhilosopher (3524)
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on March 20, 2011
at 02:49 AM
Dairy is bad in the fact of high levels of inflamamtion and hyperinsulinemia......that leads to cancer due to propagation of epidermal growth fators that are selected for in this environment......So the Masai dont get cancer eating dairy because they are not hyperinsulinemic.......same thing with the Kitivans. But if youre an American........you may now understand why in 1900 colon cancer was 37th on the list of cancers that would kill you and today it is now second.
Enjoy your fruit loops and McDonalds.......and shopping at super Walmart.
That is where the cancer comes from.
on March 20, 2013
at 08:19 PM
My first posting here... I just thought I would share the latest research finding about the IGF-1 growth hormone in milk, and its relationship to prostate cancer:
Here is a link to the 2012 European study of IGF-1, the growth hormone in milk and other dairy products. The study tested the actual levels in the blood of 1542 adult males with prostate cancer vs. 1542 matched non-cancerous males. Higher amounts of IGF-1 in the blood of males correlated with a 69% higher incidence of prostate cancer! http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/21/9/1531.abstract
This is about as good evidence as you are ever likely to get--even stronger than the early tobacco/lung cancer findings! As for the best possible scientific proof---double-blind randomized testing of large numbers of males---it just isn't possible. How could someone be double-blind as to whether they are eating ice cream or cheese, etc for the decades it takes to develop full-blown prostate cancer? Similarly, it has been impossible to set up double-blind tests of tobacco smoking, yet we now accept that tobacco smoking causes lung cancer.
Incidentally, IGF-1 is not affected by pasteurization or the production of cheese, yoghurt, or ice cream. It is found in all dairy products. I guess IGF-1 is indestructible! Prostates aren't. Sorry about that....
on March 20, 2011
at 06:17 AM
I was under the impression that it's the downregulation of the IGF-1 receptor that causes cancer cell death, not that IGF-1 causes cancer. What's bad for a cancer patient isn't necessarily bad for a healthy person. I doubt that even supra-physiological doses of exogenous hGH (and thus massive spikes in IGF-1) like what occurs with bodybuilders would be enough to cause cancer, though it would be less than ideal if cancer cells were already present.
on March 20, 2011
at 01:41 AM
Right, because Maasai who eat their traditional diet are dropping dead from cancer.
Saying that we should avoid foods discovered or developed during the Neolithic is a shorthand for healthful eating, nothing more. If you were to sit down and pick apart every food we developed during the Neolithic you'd find that some of them (admittedly not all) have been demonstrated to be healthful. By "healthful" I mean they provide for some macronutrient or micronutrient that we need, without also providing antinutrients that wreck our health.
So when Cordain can show that milk contains actual antinutrients, I'll be convinced no one should use it as a food.
Just smelling food provokes an insulin response. Shall we all hold our noses in the immediate vicinity of food now? Kind of hard to prepare food that way, much less eat it.
Getting back to the Neolithic thing: again, it is a shorthand, for people who don't have the time or inclination to investigate every possible food hazard. Just like telling people "eat low-fat" lets us avoid trans fats and telling us "eat low-carb" lets us avoid excessive fructose--but both those pieces of advice fail to account for the healthfulness of certain foods. Low-fatters miss out on saturated fats; low-carbers oftentimes don't adopt organ meats as a food and therefore run the risk of micronutrient deficiency. What do you suppose modern "Paleo" eaters might be missing? Sometimes rather a lot, depending on their individual likes, dislikes, daily habits, etc. Someone who has no time to make bone broth, like ever, is going to be missing important minerals because while there are minerals present in plant foods they're not always the most bioavailable.
It's a trade-off.
I think insulin's only important in terms of cancer development (1) if you are also eating a lot of digestible carb for sugar to feed a cancer and (2) if your immune system is messed up enough that it's not adequately policing cancer cells--which, incidentally, your body makes all the time, but usually it kills them off before they become a threat. Basically, if you're healthy (at least the way most of us here would define it), you probably don't have anything to worry about. I say "probably" because environmental factors may play a role, and of course past damage may play a role, the more unhealthy you were when you came to the Paleo lifestyle in the first place.
I'm not saying people have to eat dairy, but I think it is getting an unfair rap, hence my snarky tone earlier here. If you just can't take the casein then don't eat it, or be very careful about using clarified butter only. (Can't guarantee that cream doesn't have any.) The lactose question is easily solved with fermentation or skimming or aging (depending on what the dairy food happens to be). If you hate the stuff then find other ways to get the minerals--and the fats; one of the problems with modern meat, quite aside from omega-3/omega-6 ratios, is we just plain eat it too young. We have somehow gotten it into our heads that young animals are gastronomically superior to older ones. That's fine in a pastoral culture to keep the herd a manageable size, but pastoral isn't quite Paleo--and every mammal that hunts grazing animals goes for the slower and the fatter, including us before we discovered animal husbandry. The younger, the leaner. (This is why Big Beef adopted the practice of grain-finishing, ultimately: it mimics the process of aging in the animal, including the laying on of muscle marbling, aka fat.) Dairy works to replace some of the dietary fat we lost when we didn't have to limit ourselves to the old fogies of the herd, and you don't have to import it from a Pacific island (i.e., coconut oil), either. Which, I like coconut oil, I'm just saying.
So... up to you really.
P.S., Before someone argues that maybe the Maasai were dropping dead from cancer and we just didn't know, cancer was a known disease well before the advent of the biopsy. This is why we know President Grant died of throat cancer. Doctors in Africa have also long known when someone had cancer that had advanced far enough, even if they didn't have microscopes; there are certain classic symptoms they looked for. And sometimes you just couldn't avoid knowing. Gary Taubes recounts one doctor who observed an African woman dying of advanced breast cancer, to the point it had eaten through her ribcage and he could see her heart beating through her skin. So if the Maasai were dropping dead of cancer on their traditional diet it should have been pretty obvious.
on March 20, 2011
at 01:33 AM
"How milk drinking increases IGF-1 is not completely known."
Correlation without causation. This is typical Cordain cherry picking the data. Oh, some populations, the ones that have a whole bunch of other potential causal factors for cancer development, also drink a lot of milk and get a lot of cancer. Except for, oh, the Masai. Or, oh, except for Tibetan yak herders or other traditional dairy cultures that he completely willfully ignores (probably b/c they also eat ridiculous amounts of sat fat and Cordain is still a little sat fat phobic). Yes, I suppose it is entirely possible that the Masai have, in the few thousand years they've been herders, evolved anti-cancer defenses in response to their diet. Seems ridiculous to me. I suppose he might argue that, at least among the Masai, milk drinking is high only for part of an individuals life (when men are in the "warrior" group).
Anyway, it doesn't matter unless we have a mechanism. Give milk to mice or rats in the lab and show me the mechanism whereby milk increases mutation rate, disables cellular repair mechanisms and leads to cancer. Short of that, there is no science, just epidemiologists playing connect the dots and doing really bad statistics. And the problem with Cordain's assertions is that you can find plenty of correlation studies showing milk consumption being preventative against cancer and other diseases (see Elwood et al. 2008 for example).
Milk products causing allergies and inflammation, sure, I buy it. You can demonstrate that in the lab. Cancer? Show me that you can give a mouse or a rhesus monkey cancer by having it consume a lot of milk from another species.
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at 10:42 PM
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on March 21, 2013
at 02:57 AM
I have to rant here. In my opinion, its the same old story as with the "MEAT CAUSES CANCER" statement, and as with milk, there is an equal body of scientific work that "proves" the theory. But the problem of the studies is that they never give people the quality milk or meat, then IMHO the conclusions made should be fair and state what kind of milk/dairy was used rather than making blanket statements.
Also, if you look at some of the studies that track people who eat these products in the highly processed state and then don't account for the other dietary factors. For example, are they also eating tons of sugar and processed foods, no vegetables etc... So then where is the proof that they caused the cancer in the first place?
on December 18, 2011
at 07:49 AM
Hello, this is a question I wanted to ask myself but as this thread already exists I would like to contribute and possibly find further information: I have just discovered this link:http://www.fitnesspoint.com.pt/pdf/Milk-ThepromoterofchronicWesterndiseases.pdf which seems to be pretty clear on the IGF-1 issue. However, if I understand it correctly, whey does not increase IGF-1 but produces insuline-spikes. If not too worried about this, is seems "safe"to have whey and cheeses made from whey? And, more important, does anyone know about fermented dairy? The amount of IGF-1 seems to be reduced but I do not know exact numbers...Thank you for a reply!
on March 20, 2011
at 02:52 PM
Make sure your dairy is grassfed, as CLA seems to lower IGF-1.
I think grassfed dairy is a healthy food for those who can tolerate it. Almost every food has either toxins or harmful compounds, and in the grand scheme of things dairy just doesn't seem that bad.
on March 20, 2011
at 04:12 AM
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