Is Milk Good for Me or Bad for Me?

A new documentary, Got the facts on Milk?, now available on DVD,  answers the question unequivocally: Milk is BAD for everyone.

Got the facts on Milk? is the work of filmaker Shira Lane whose dairy allergy prompted her to examine the scientific research on the subject. Apparently she did not find satisfactory answers to her questions. So she made a movie:

On her month-long, 4600-mile journey from Los Angeles to Washington DC through the American Southwest and Bible Belt, she interviewed top doctors and researchers, dietitians, dairy farmers, veterinarians, parents, teachers, and plenty of “ordinary Americans” who provide both comic relief and food for thought.

The movie contends that the political and financial power of the dairy industry have done a great disservice to millions of Americans. She brings research on the connection between dairy consumption and cancer, osteoporosis, weight gain, asthma, acne, hormones, early menstruation, as well as the prevalence of lactose intolerance in African Americans, Asian Americans and Indigenous Americans.

According to Lane:

“Having a lifelong dairy allergy has forced me to learn how to read food labels and ask questions in restaurants, and the more research I did, the more passionate I became,” said Lane. “I would have wanted my parents to watch this film when I was growing up and I hope the information helps others.”

We asked Dr. Greg Miller, executive vice president of science and research for the National Dairy Council, to address the claim that most people’s bodies can’t cope with milk and that the dairy industry is doing more harm than good to a millions of people not of North European descent. His response:

The “Got the Facts on Milk” film has been on our radar for a while. The filmmakers contacted USDA and National Dairy Council (NDC) during the process of making the film in 2007. The National Dairy Council’s Isabel Maples, M.Ed., R.D., conducted an hour-long interview and found that the filmmakers were not interested in a balanced portrayal of the subjects at hand.

While the dairy critics in the film are entitled to their theories, they are clearly more focused on advancing their vegan agenda than the full scope of scientific research that supports dairy’s role in a healthy diet. (See recent studies here and here on low-fat dairy’s role in preventing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, respectively.

Government and public health organizations around the globe encourage daily consumption of dairy foods to promote good health and help prevent disease.  This includes the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Health and many other leading health organizations.

People should look to their personal physician and health care providers for science-based guidance on preventing and treating any type of disease.

According to the filmmakers, Miller refused to be interviewed for the documentary.

Clearly there are two camps here, each citing research and science to suit their needs. So what are as consumers supposed to decide? Should we consume dairy or stay away?

Here are a few things to think about:

1. There is a huge surplus of milk being manufactured in the US today. The surplus has been around for 90 years! This has lead to some of the most creative (and expensive) promotional campaigns ever to get people to consume more milk and dairy.

2. The movie claims that 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant and therefore should not consume milk. If you are lactose intolerant, your body cannot breakdown the lactose in the milk. It may cause a whole slew of side effects from bloating to diarrhea, nausea, cramps, headaches, or worse.

3. Portraying milk as causing disease and not nourishing for an entire population is taking it too far. Humans in Northern Europe mutated to enable milk consumption after weaning several millennia ago and have thrived ever since. Their offspring can thrive with milk today. Milk is not the cause of all this country’s ailments and obesity.

4. Aside from milk, there are other ways to build strong bones. Other sources of calcium are vegetables. Entire countries in Asia consume little to no dairy and yet have no more issues with osteoporosis than dairy consuming countries.

5. Maybe some of the reported problems with dairy are not because of milk, but due to milk processing today compared to 50 years ago? What are the cows eating today compared to what they ate several generations ago? What hormones and antibiotics are they getting injected with? How do factory farm conditions affect what goes into the milk?

What is your experience with milk? What do you think?

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  • Ken Leebow

    Here’s an interesting interview … Listen to the The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health by the Author of “Whitewash” …

    Ken Leebow

  • Lauri (

    My biggest ‘issue’ with the dairy industry is the treatment of the animals & the processing of milk/cheese/dairy. I think dairy products, in moderation (as with everything) can definitely be a part of a healthy diet. But I also do not think we NEED dairy to be healthy either (Which is what the dairy industry would like for us to think)…

    When we buy milk (once a month or so), we always look for organic and I try to buy most of our cheese from the farmer’s market.

    • Tom

      How does that hamburger/steak taste? I think they taste great. They are not being ‘nice’ to an animal they slaughter for that yummy meal. And you can not be humane with a creature that is not human.

      • FrugalArugula

        Maybe not, but you can eat a hamburger that is made up from 1 properly fed, slaughtered, gutted cow and not thousands of poorly fed, overly medicated, sick, and/or poorly gutted cows.

        As a consumer, you make that choice. If you don’t care because the latter still “tastes great,” that would be the problem we have with the whole system.

  • Terra

    I just recently have discovered I am lactose intolerant, which made me take a closer look at milk. It has been interesting to find the many cons to milk. What people need to be taught is about all the beautiful foods you can enjoy, that contain calcium. So many think milk is the only way to get their calcium. Thank you for sharing!

  • Jpglackin

    The arguments AGAINST milk consumption far outweigh the arguments FOR milk consumption. Everyone has opinions, but the facts stand for themselves. The bogus government sponsored ad campaigns promoting “milk builds strong bones” is a farce. Milk actually depletes bone density. This is a fact. If you don’t believe this, just ask why you have never seen or ever will see any of the dairy industry’s claims printed on their packaging. Why is this? Truth in labeling laws. If you print it on the package, you have to substantiate it. In countries with the highest dairy production, they also have the highest rates of osteoporosis and bone fracture. Why? Because, first off, dairy is high in calcium, but MOST is not absorbable/digested. Broccoli and Kale have far more usable calcium than dairy. Second, the protein in dairy causes blood acidosis which requires the body to leech calcium from skeletal tissue to neutralize the acidity of the blood. Therefore, when you consider the low amount of calcium that dairy actually provides, combined with the amount of calcium that is leeched from the body to process the dairy, the result is a net loss of calcium (bone density). Fact are friends. The dairy industry and its shills (USDA, FDA) spend billions cementing their propaganda into our minds. 

    As far as lactose intolerance, it is a fact that most people are lactose intolerant. This cannot be denied. When you continually put something in your body that your body rejects, disease will form. What I can’t understand is how dismissive you are of this. You rightfully rally against artificial food colorings, because of the known issues they cause, but you dismiss the dairy issues, in the face of even larger issues? I find this incredibly odd. 

  • Rachel Assuncao

    I don’t know why there has to be a verdict that milk is either good for all people or bad for all people.  There is plenty of science to support the consumption of milk, like the links provided in this post.  There is also plenty of science to support not consuming milk (like last year’s study that compared dairy consumption to osteoporosis rates, and found that the more milk a country consumed, the higher the rates of osteoporosis and the less milk a country consumed, the lower the rates of osteoporosis).

    Although I haven’t watched the documentary, I wonder if the claim is that 70% of people are lactose intolerant, or if it is that 70% of people are sensitive to dairy?  Lactose intolerance is a specific and medically described condition that can be proven through testing (although opponents suggest that the testing is rarely accurate).  Determining sensitivity, rather, is usually done through an elimination diet – take it out for a while and then put it back in and see how you feel.

    When I did this, I found that my eczema goes away when I don’t have dairy.  When I add it back into my diet, I end up with a runny nose, congested lungs, and constipation.  That’s a pretty clear indicator for me that my body doesn’t like dairy – even though I’m not lactose intolerant.

    When I work with my health coaching clients, my approach with all foods is to see how your body feels when you eat them, and when you don’t.  If you can confidently say that your body feels great when you consume dairy, then I say go for it.  But, as with anything that is suspect of contributing to our high rates of disease, I think it’s better to find out for yourself first.

  • Connectionzen

    The balance of science is increasingly indicating that milk is bad for human health. T Colin Campbell, who grew up on a meat and dairy farm, wrote a very interesting book, The China Study, showing clearly that milk proteins led to cancer.

    Interestingly, the northern European cultures that consume a lot of dairy, tend to have the highest cancer rates as well, soneven if they have been consuming milk for a few hundred years, it really doesn’t follow that the body is fully adapted to its consumption with no side effects.

    Dairy must be considered as a junk food to be eaten very rarely – certainly not as essential for human health.

  • Seeminglysquare

    Correlation is not causation.  I am concerned with the hormones in milk, with the way bovine animals are treated and the slue of health issues that are linked with overly processed foods, but this movie seems to be full of an agenda while accusing others of having an agenda. 

    I am not lactose intolerant and I do not appreciate the view that because it turns her stomach it is bad for all.

    Everything in moderation.

    • connectionZen

      Causation between milk proteins and cancer has been proven. (The China Study – T Colin Campbell)

      • Sandra Homemaker

        The only thing the China Study proved is that consuming highly processed, denatured whey protein is associated with cancer. They did not test the effect of whole unprocessed milk.

        • Jpglackin

          Not true. Did you read the China Study? The link between cancer and milk was established in their work in the Philippines and then further established in their work China and in testing on lab rats. The children developing cancer in the Philippines were not fed highly processed, denatures whey protein. They were drinking their milk and eating their cheese, like Western kids. 

          • Sandra Homemaker
          • Jpglackin

            What? You are going to take a stand with the Weston Price Foundation as your response to the China Study? So, the answer is, no, you have never read the China Study, and, yes, you will believe what you want to believe, since you will quote the widely debunked and discredited WPF as your rebuttal. 

  • Lauren Smith

    To anyone interested in this issue, I recommend the book Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk. Fascinating stuff.

    I’m personally lactose intolerant, so…I’ve always hated milk and cheese.

  • Tom

    I used to think that I was allergic/lactose intolerant. Then I found out it was actually the Vitamin A Palmitate(synthetic vitamin), or rather the artificial preservative they use to stabilize the VitAPalmitate, that I’m allergic too. I quit drinking Skim, 1% and 2% and my issues disappeared. Though I did find out later when I went to Krogers that their ‘Whole’ milk is a mix of Skim and Whole, and I revisited my issues with VitAPalmitate preservative mysteriously until I inspected the ingredient list on that  supposedly whole milk. There are a few other groceries that provide “whole” milk that has a similar nature, so watch out. My family shops exclusively at Meijers, a Midwest chain that doesn’t disappoint in the number of store brands that are exactly what they say they are, with no unnecessary additives.

  • Malmedia

    Too much of anything is bad for you, from Fats, to Salts, to Proteins, to Sugars, to Water, to Air, etc… But removing any of those form your diet/life 100% would probably not be good for you either.

    Now if you can replace the advantages of certain foods with other foods to avoid certain downsides then that is certainly something you should do. But I don’t think everyone needs to follow everyone else’s diet.

    There is nothing wrong with removing milk and milk products from your diet if you can find other good sources of calcium and whatever other nutritional reasons you may consume milk.

    Now for me personally, I have found that if I consume whole milk I become lactose intolerant for most other forms of dairy. But if I only have skim milk then I am fine with other forms of dairy. So I typically just don’t drink milk at all. But I do eat various forms of cheese periodically with no known side affects, in moderate consumption.

  • Satumma

    years ago, even when i was in grade school i always used to get nauseated after eating cereal for breakfast. i cut down on my milk consumption and have never had that issue again. i feel that most people are not properly suited to digest cow’s milk properly but that some populations do have a higher tolerance due to a longer history of consumption. but what does that mean now that people from wide reaching cultural backgrounds are having children?

  • Cartoonguy_99

    This is nothing more than a Vega agenda propaganda film.

  • J in VA

    Many who are lactose intolerant find that drinking raw milk is much better tolerated than pasteurized milk from the store. If you can find a local cow share or if you live in a state where purchase of raw milk is legal, try it if you like milk and wish to drink it.

    There seems to be more issue with the current method of dairy farming than the product itself in its most basic form.

    Anything is excess tends to be harmful.

    • Jim Schmidt

      I was waiting for a raw milk comment. So tell me what is in raw milk that makes the lactose tolerable for lactose intolerant people? Oh wait, you can’t. It’s probably those special “good” bacteria that magically “eat” the “bad” bacteria. You have some clever bacteria in that raw milk. All hail our new overlord the bacteria of raw milk!

      • J in VA

        It is not a bacteria–it is an enzyme which is destroyed by the heat of pastuerization.

        “Lactase is essential for digestive hydrolysis of lactose in milk. Deficiency of the enzyme causes lactose intolerance.[“ (Järvelä I, Torniainen S, Kolho KL (2009). “Molecular genetics of human lactase deficiencies”. Ann. Med. 41 (8): 568–75. doi:10.1080/07853890903121033. PMID 19639477.)

        • Jim Cooper

          The article describes lactase deficiency, but there is no connection to raw milk.

      • Sandra Homemaker

        There is nothing magical about it. Probiotics are very well understood by science and used by many people to enhance digestion and promote health:

        Lactose is a large sugar molecule that is made up of two smaller sugars,
        glucose and galactose. In order for lactose to be absorbed from the
        intestine and into the body, it must first be split. The enzyme that splits lactose into glucose
        and galactose is called lactase. Lactase is produced by certain strains of probiotic bacteria naturally found in raw milk. When milk is heat treated the probiotics are killed but the lactose remains intact. Undigested lactose ferments in the intestine causing gas and bloating.

        The inside of our body is not sterile. We need certain strains of “good” bacteria to digest our food. They are only found in whole, raw, natural foods. If we attempt to sterilise and process everything we consume the end result is poor digestion and lack of nutrient absorption.

        I am one of those people who cannot tolerate pasteurized milk but I have not problems with raw milk.

        • Jim Schmidt

          Sandra you are just talking about stuff that you obviously know nothing about. There is NO scientific evidence to show raw milk has any benefit over pasteurized milk. You can wish all you want. Why not just say you like the taste better and your like to take risks? See, that’s easier and then you don’t have to use false reports and stats that other raw milk advocates put together.

          And answer me this, how come every person that is lactose intolerant doesn’t become lactose tolerant if they drink raw milk?

          As for the inside of our bodies you may want to read up on the recent study done on gut flora. It found that there are three groups and the group is selected very early in life.

          So how come that guy that only ate McDonald’s for a year is still alive? He must of had no nutrient absorption based on your theory.

          • Dano

            Out of curiosity (although I have no intention to come back here & check…) are you referring to SuperSize Me, where he ate only McDonald’s for *a month* and nearly died because of it?

          • Jim Schmidt

            Yes, that’s the one.

          • Sandra Homemaker

            Thank you, Jim, for questioning my knowledge on the science behind the health benefit of raw milk versus pasteurized. Up to this point, the majority of my experience has been on the personal level – feeling the difference in my own body and seeing it in the members of my family. I have finally been prompted to look deeper into scientific literature to back up my claims.

            I am not saying that every person in the world who is lactose intolerant would be able to handle raw milk, just that in my experience it is true. I am sure there are different reasons why people react negatively to lactose and some people may not tolerate ANY form of milk, raw or otherwise.

            I am not saying that eating poor quality food will kill you instantly. What I believe has been proven again and again is that nutrient deficient and enzyme deficient “dead” food leads to illness and degenerative diseases.

            Now, on to the science. Most of these studies are old studies, carried out before the Second World War, but that does not mean these studies should be discounted. No one would jump off a tall building just because Newton formulated the laws of gravity several hundred years ago. Good science is good science in whatever age we live, and the body’s requirements for nutrients are the same now as they were hundreds of years ago. There is simply no funding available now a-days to research raw milk because it is not profitable on a large scale. The only way to produce raw milk is on a smaller farm with a limited distribution area. Add to that the culture the majority of us alive now have been brought up in, believing that the only good bacteria is a dead one.

            In 1926, when pasteurized milk and raw certified milk co-existed (and health officials still thought the certification of raw milk was a life-saving service), the Archives of Pediatrics published a study of two hundred twenty-four children whose parents obtained milk from the Boston Dispensary. Children received either raw certified milk; Grade A pasteurized milk; Grade A pasteurized milk plus cod liver oil; or raw certified milk plus cod liver oil and orange juice. Compared to those on pasteurized milk, children who received raw certified milk had better weight gain and greater protection against rachitis, a childhood disease, similar to rickets, caused by deficiency of vitamin D and sunlight, and associated with impaired metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Interestingly, the addition of cod liver oil and orange juice did not improve the results for children on raw milk, but did allow those on pasteurized milk to have better weight gain and more protection against rachitis. According to the authors, “The use of certified milk [raw] without orange juice or cod liver oil gave a considerably greater percentage of weight development than either pasteurized milk alone or pasteurized milk with orange juice and cod liver oil.” They concluded that “a larger use of certified milk in infant feeding should be encouraged by the medical profession.”

            The journal published a similar study three years later. The researchers compared two groups of infants. Group I (one hundred twenty-two babies) received raw milk; group II (one hundred twelve babies) received pasteurized milk. Those receiving raw milk had better weight gain than those on pasteurized milk. Rickets occurred more frequently in the group on pasteurized milk and the cases of rickets that did occur in the raw milk group were milder. There were twenty-four cases and nine deaths from diarrhea in the raw milk group compared to thirty-six cases and fifteen deaths in the pasteurized milk group. Mortality was ten percent in the raw milk group and sixteen percent in the pasteurized milk group.

            A 1931 study on the growth of Scottish school children was published in Nutrition Abstracts and Reviews.  Children drinking raw milk had a significantly greater increase in height and weight compared to those drinking pasteurized milk. “. . . [P]asteurized milk was only 66 percent as effective as the raw milk in the case of boys and 91 percent as effective in the case of girls in inducing increases in weight; and 50 percent as effective in boys and 70 percent as effective in girls in bringing about increases in height.” The authors gave the following explanation for the results, referring to another study that had previously appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry: “Kramer, Latzke and Shaw obtained less favorable calcium balances in adults with pasteurized milk than with ‘fresh milk’ and made the further observation that milk from cows kept in the barn for five months gave less favorable calcium balances that did ‘fresh milk’ (herd milk from a college dairy).”
            Also in 1931, health officials in Scotland reported on a project to determine whether milk could improve growth of impoverished children in the Lanarkshire schools. It was a large and ambitious study, following twenty thousand children ages five to twelve. Five thousand received three-fourths pint of raw milk per day; five thousand received three-fourths pint of pasteurized milk per day for four months. The control group of ten thousand children received no milk. In the final report, published in the journal Nature, March 21, 1931, the research team noted better growth in those children receiving milk but stated that “the effects of raw and pasteurized milk on growth in weight and height are, so far as can be judged from this experiment, equal.” However, two scientists, Fisher and Bartlett, looked carefully at the data and followed up with a critical evaluation in the April 18, 1931 issue of Nature. They found that the initial evaluation was highly biased and that growth, especially in boys, was better on raw milk than pasteurized.
            Further compelling evidence of the superiority of raw milk appeared in The Lancet in 1937, in a report on the work of the medical officer to a group of orphanages. The physician gave pasteurized milk for five years to one group of seven hundred fifty boys, while giving raw milk to another group of seven hundred fifty. All other conditions were alike except for this one item. During that period, fourteen cases of tuberculosis occurred in the boys fed pasteurized milk, while only one occurred in those fed raw milk. It was studies like these, plus the observations of physicians in both America and Europe, that led to the following statement in the The Lancet the same year: “The child on raw milk is very fit. Chilblains [a serious problem in houses without central heating] are practically eliminated. The teeth are less likely to decay. The resistance to tuberculosis and other infections is raised.”
            Early studies on raw versus pasteurized milk in animals confirm the findings of early studies on human beings. Francis Pottenger’s experimental findings from feeding cats various raw and pasteurized milk diets had been noted by a professor at Ohio State University in the early 1940s, who observed the same pathologies Pottenger described in cats fed pasteurized milk. As did Pottenger’s, the professor’s raw milk cats thrived.
            A rigorous controlled experiment in 1941 with calves at the West of Scotland Agricultural College at Auchincruive produced equally dramatic results. “Two groups, each of eight calves, were fed, one group on raw milk, the other on pasteurized milk . . . . The experiment covered a period of 90 days. All the animals in the raw milk group finished the trial without mortality. In the pasteurized milk group, two died before they were 30 days old, and a third died on the 92nd day; that is, two days after the experiment.” The remaining calves in the pasteurization group were in ill health at the end of the experiment, while all of the animals in the raw milk group were in excellent health.
            The results of other animal experiments performed in England to determine the relative nutritional value of raw and heated milk were reported in 1931 in The Lancet: “Our results show definitely that some dietetic factors are destroyed when milk is sterilised, and to a definite but lesser degree when it is pasteurised, and that although fresh milk is capable of supporting sustained growth and reproduction in rats, heated milk is no longer capable of doing so.”
            Five years later, the same authors reported that rats fed pasteurized milk showed loss of hair while those fed raw milk did not. The type of milk also influenced the comparative reproductive capacity of the rats: “Two females which had received sterilised milk for about eight months showed remarkable improvement after receiving raw milk for about eleven weeks and one gave birth to a litter when mated to a buck from the raw-milk group. Previous to this, 15 matings had been attempted with does and bucks both reared on sterilised milk, and no signs of pregnancy were shown on any one of these occasions.”
            In 1931 Dr. Ernest Scott and Professor Lowell Erf of Ohio State University compared the effects of raw and pasteurized milk in rats. Those given whole raw milk had good growth, sleek coats, clear eyes and good quality blood; those given whole pasteurized milk had rough coats, slow growth, loss of vitality and weight and anemia. The lack of anemia in the raw milk-fed rats is significant because, according to a discussion by Scott and Erf, the scientific concensus at the time was that all milk, raw and pasteurized, could cause anemia if it were consumed as the only food. The observed anemia in the pasteurized milk-fed rats is undoubtedly due to the destruction of lactoferrin during pasteurization, as well as the denaturation of vitamin A in the butterfat—vitamin A supports iron assimilation. Anemia in young children is a serious condition and manifests as follows: “Infants with chronic, severe iron deficiency have been observed to display increased fearfulness, unhappiness, fatigue, low activity, wariness, solemnity, and proximity to the mother during free play, developmental testing and at home. In a recent preventative trial in Chile, ratings after 30-45 minutes of developmental testing showed that, compared with infants who received iron supplementation, a greater percentage of unsupplemented infants never smiled, never interacted socially, and never showed social referencing.” The presence or absence of anemia in the rats may explain the marked differences in observed behavior patterns between the two groups. Those on raw milk had “excellent dispositions” and did not show signs of stress when they were picked up and petted. Those on pasteurized milk were very irritable, often showing a tendency to bite when handled. This finding mirrors frequent reports from parents that their children’s behavior improves when they make the switch from pasteurized to raw milk.
            Researchers Wulzen and Bahrs reported on their work with rats at Oregon State University during the early 1940s. “In all experiments,” they wrote, “the growth of the rats fed raw milk was superior to that of similar experimental groups fed pasteurized milk.” Autopsies showed that the raw-milk-fed animals had no abnormalities, while in many cases it was “noted that the nuclei of heart cells from pasteurized-milk-fed animals were shrunken.” The authors found various other degenerative changes in the adrenal glands, muscles and livers. These researchers then performed another series of similar experiments with guinea pigs. They reported that “Animals fed raw whole milk grew excellently and at autopsy showed no abnormality of any kind. Those on the pasteurized milk rations did not grow as well and developed a definite syndrome, the first sign of which was wrist stiffness. On pasteurized skim milk ration the syndrome increased in severity until the animals finally died in periods ranging from a month to a year or more. They showed great emaciation and weakness before death.”

            Health officials insist that pasteurized milk has the same level of nutrients as raw, and for many of the nutrients this statement is technically correct. Raw and pasteurized milk from the same source contain the same amount of calcium, for example. But the real issue in growing children is how the calcium is used. In a series of experiments carried out at Randleigh Farm, an experimental dairy farm in upstate New York, during the late 1930s, researchers compared rats on raw and pasteurized whole milk. The raw milk-fed rats were larger and more robust, with good, healthy fur; those on pasteurized milk had hairless patches, called acrodynia, due to vitamin B6 deficiency. The most serious difference showed up on autopsy. Those rats on raw milk had longer bones, and the bones were much denser. Typically the bones of the pasteurized milk-fed rats weighed one hundred forty-six grams while those on raw milk weighed two hundred six grams — they were about thirty percent denser. So while the amount of calcium in the two types of milk was approximately the same, it was utilized more effectively in the raw milk-fed rat. In humans, bone density for life is acquired in childhood and translates into a more robust constitution, greater height and more attractive facial structure. The researchers at Randleigh Farm also compared the internal organs of the raw and pasteurized milk-fed rats. Their findings were similar to those of Dr. Pottenger. Those on pasteurized milk had poor color and compromised integrity of the intestine, liver and other organs—their insides were mushy.
            In 1941, when researchers Wulzen and Bahrs performed autopsies on guinea pigs fed pasteurized whole milk, they found muscles streaked with calcification and calcium deposits under the skin and in the joints, heart and other organs, a pathology that was absent in guinea pigs fed raw milk. This finding gives us a good idea of what happens to the calcium that does not get built into the bones—it ends up in the soft tissues, where it does not belong. The researchers attributed the inappropriate calcium utilization to the destruction of a hormone-like factor in butterfat called the Wulzen factor.

            During the early days of pasteurization, researchers showed that scurvy often resulted when pasteurized milk replaced raw milk in the diet of infants. “Pasteurized milk gradually induces infantile scurvy, unless antiscorbutic diet is given in addition,” wrote Alfred Hess in a 1916 issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children. “This disorder quickly yielded to the substitution of raw for pasteurized milk.”
            The following year, Hess wrote of the situation in Berlin, “A large dairy in that city established a pasteurizing plant in which all milk was raised to a temperature of about 60 degrees C. After an interval of some months, infantile scurvy was reported from various sources throughout the city.”
            Thus from the earliest days of pasteurization scientists demonstrated that heat treatment had a profound effect on the health-giving properties of milk. A loss of nutrients other than vitamin C was demonstrated in subsequent studies. One article, “The effect of heat on the solubility of the calcium and phosphorus compounds in milk,” was published in 1925 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The author’s conclusion was unequivocal: “There is a loss in the soluble calcium and phosphorus contents of the milk due to heat and the amount of the loss depends upon the temperature to which the milk has been heated.”  Other studies showed that pasteurization caused the loss of significant percentages of many of the B vitamins and nearly all of the enzymes in milk.
            One study, published in the Journal of Dairy Science in 1934, documented the loss of thirty-eight percent of the B-complex vitamins. Similar findings were published in a 1979 master’s thesis at the University of Georgia—the losses from pasteurization of vitamin B6, thiamin (vitamin B1) and folic acid were determined to be 34.4 percent, 33.8 percent and 24.1 percent, respectively.
            High-quality raw milk contains significant amounts of vitamin C, estimated in 1936 to be twenty to twenty-five milligrams per liter. Hess wrote in 1932 that the amount of vitamin C in raw milk was “dependent entirely on the vitamin content of the food or fodder of the animal” and that pasteurization destroyed at least fifty percent of the vitamin C in milk. Researchers in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin confirmed these findings several years later: “Commercial raw milks contained an anti-scorbutic potency which was only slightly less than fresh raw milks. Pasteurized milks on the average contained only one-half the latter potency.”
            Others estimated much higher rates of destruction. In a 1938 report titled “Infantile Scurvy,” one expert wrote, “The vitamin is present in varying concentration in cow’s milk and, since it is a fragile substance, is largely destroyed by pasteurization.”  In 1941, the U.S. Government Printing Office published the Proceedings of the National Nutrition Conference for Defense. That document stated that “ . . . the cows of the country produce as much vitamin C as does the entire citrus crop, but most of it is lost as a result of pasteurization.” In an article published in Pediatrics, 2001, we read, “. . . without doubt. . . the explosive increase in infantile scurvy during the latter part of the 19th century coincided with the advent of use of heated milks. . .”
            The Randleigh Farm studies demonstrated that animals on pasteurized milk develop vitamin B6 deficiency. This nutrient is absolutely critical to hundreds of biochemical processes, necessary for the production of red blood cells, hydrochloric acid, receptors and feel good chemicals. It supports the heart, liver, brain, kidneys and nervous system and can alleviate symptoms as diverse as epilepsy, skin problems, multiple sclerosis, asthma, tooth decay, celiac disease and proneness to sunburn.

            As laws for mandatory pasteurization were put into place, a chilly wind swept over the universities, and research into this fascinating subject came to a halt.
            It is against a background of ever increasing problems with pasteurized milk that we turn to a remarkable series of studies carried out in Europe between 2001 and 2007. These studies looked at “farm milk” — that is, raw milk—as one of several factors that might protect children against allergies and asthma. These were the first studies on the effects of raw animal milk to appear in the literature since the 1940s, and they were published in prestigious journals. Significantly, they were carried out in Europe, not the U.S.
            In the first, published in The Lancet, 2001, which involved twenty-six hundred families, researchers found that “Long-term and early-life exposure to stables and [raw] farm milk induces a strong protective effect against development of asthma, hay fever and atopic sensitization [rashes].”

            In the second, published in the Journal for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2006, researchers concluded that children who even infrequently drank raw milk had significantly less current eczema symptoms and a greater reduction in atopy [allergic hypersensitivity].”
            The third study, called the PARSAVAL study, looked at almost fifteen thousand children ages five to thirteen. Researchers found that consumption of raw milk was the strongest factor in reducing the risk of asthma and allergy, a stronger factor than living on a farm or having a pet. These findings were published in 2007, in Clinical and Experimental Allergy. Health officials can no longer claim that “all the studies on raw milk are old studies.”

          • Jim Schmidt

            As I said, there is not anything in raw milk that is of such great value that it is worth taking that great of a risk for. You can quote old studies and inconclusive studies until your hearts content, but none of those studies have been replicated. That is the key foundation of science. Any study I do has to be able to be repeatable and obtain the same or similar results.

            One last thing, Big Ag would actually make more money selling raw milk since they wouldn’t have the extra cost of pasteurization. I would hazard a guess the reason they do not do it is for the high likelihood that they will have a lawsuit brought against them.

            To me, serving raw milk to a child is negligence, the same way not putting your child in a car safety seat is. You know the risks yet you choose to ignore them.

    • Jim Cooper

      Sorry, this is simply not true. There is no scientific evidence for it.

  • Catherine

    I am always wary of foods that have to be promoted/brainwashed into consumption so rigorously….   besides, the scientific evidence is there in bucket loads to prove that milk is very, very bad for everyone despite what the dairy industry keeps on saying (no, I am not going to cite particular studies but start with the book ‘The China Study’ and we will talk after that).  This is one of those instances where in years to come it will be a given and people will look back and think ‘wow, how could they not have seen that??’.  Just remember what sort of a shift it must have been to accept the Earth wasn’t flat?  It is going to take awhile for people to believe it.

  • Malmedia

    I wanted to add another thing to my previous response, that Cows Milk is highly processed and highly treated with all sorts of man made things that should probably never be consumed by anyone, such as hormones, puss, pesticides, and so on. So avoiding milk in the form that most stores provide is probably not a bad thing. Organic milk and organic milk products may be a much healthier option for you if removing milk from your diet it not something you are willing to do at this point in time.

  • Maria

    It’s funny, I JUST read several articles and opinion pieces stating that milk is in fact good for you and that whole milk is best with it’s number of nutrients and the fat content that we actually need. It seems like there will always be a debate over this and no one is ever going to find the right answer so the way I see it is that if it works for you and you enjoy milk, aren’t obese, trust where you’re getting it from, etc…then drink away. Too much of anything can be bad for you and for those that enjoy it, milk in moderation is not actually going to harm one’s body. I know this is purely anecdotal, but I grew up drinking 2 cups of milk per day (“2 cups per day before you’re allowed to play!” is what my parents would sing to us) and am one of the lucky ones that have no issues with tolerating milk. But I noticed that as I’ve gotten older and have beat my body up with attempting Olympic lifts, running multiple races, etc…I have yet to experience an injury. I fully attribute drinking all that milk while growing as to why I have such a strong body right now.

  • Hannah

    Fooducate, what a disappointment your reaction to this is. You ate such a big proponent of food awareness. What about te movie Farmagedden!? What about the argument that unpastureized raw milk is totally different product that is easily digested by the “lactose intolerant” because the nataurally occurring enzymes haven’t been destroyed by Pasturization? I’m not saying raw milk is the answer here but fooducate came across as way out of the loop on this one.

    • Jim Cooper

      Your statements on raw milk and lactose intolerance have been shown to be myth. In fact, raw milk is not recommended by most medical organizations because of the chance for disease.

      • Sandra Homemaker

        I have been “lactose intolerant” all my life. I’ve been consuming raw milk for 2 the last two years without any problems. I can now even have processed dairy every once in a while and it does not bother me like it used to.

        Raw milk is very safe as long as you are getting it from a reputable source. In fact, a recent CDC survey affirms that raw milk is no more dangerous than any other food. Over the past 12 years wile 9.4 million Americans consumed raw milk only an average of 42 people per year reported getting sick.

        • Jim Schmidt

          Sorry to burst your bubble Sandra but both the CDC and FDA state that “raw milk” is unsafe. As a Registered Environmental Health Specialist I’ll state that “raw milk” is unsafe. Further raw milk has a higher incidence of causing illness than does pasteurized milk. So in other words even though less people drink raw milk a greater percentage get sick when compared to pasteurized milk.

          As for “lactose intolerant” correlation does not equal causation. If a non-smoker with asthma started smoking and no longer had asthma would you credit smoking as the cure?

          • Jjj

            And we all know that FDA is always right, right?

          • Jim Schmidt

            I trust the scientific data that they based it on. It is peer reviewed research.

  • D_zacher

    I don’t think milk is bad for you by any means, however I do believe that we don’t need as much milk as the dairy association recommends. When I got pregnant with my third child my OB recommended I drink 4 glasses of milk, when I told her I wasn’t going to do that because I don’t like milk, other then in coffee, or dairy in general, only then did she inform me that I can get all the nutrients I needed from other sources. Also, all of the pamphlets she gave me about healthy eating pushed milk as the only source of calcium, very few of them mentioned soy or vegetables.

  • Penny

    For those of you using the Asian populations as proof that those of European decent don’t need milk, need to realize the Asian and European populations split off a very long time ago. This means there are differences.

    Simply saying that European dencendents don’t need milk because Asian’s ignores the fundamental differences between two populations that have been in radically different locations living on very different diets for a long time. It does not prove that European decedents don’t need milk.

    I agree people don’t need as much milk as the milk producers would have you believe, and the addition of hormones into the US milk supply (hormones are not added to Canadian milk) is also a huge problem. Simply stating that no one needs milk is very naive and simplistic.

    The film maker was clearly only interested in proving that she was right and everyone is against her instead of presenting an informative documentary on the pros and cons of dairy.

  • deBrice

    Strangely, the problem is only american. And allergy are so common in the USA (almost 50% of my american friends are allergic to something). Europe eats a lot of dairy and has no problem with it, very few people are lactose intolerant over there (truly never meet any lactose intolerant people in France in 30 years). This movie doesn’t seems to be very objective to me. 

    To me, most of our health issues are linked to our stress, and it’s known that americans work too much and don’t work out enough (even just walking) to expel all this accumulated stress.

    • Jpglackin

      Europe eats a lot of dairy. The US consumes a massive amount of dairy. Have you ever been to Italy? You couldn’t find a pizza with half as much cheese as an American pizza even if you ordered it triple cheese. 

    • Sandra Homemaker

      Dairy products available in America are very different from dairy products in Europe. Most of the dairy cows in Europe are raised out on pasture eating their natural diet of grass. Dairy products sold in grocery stores in America comes from cows held in feed lots with cement floors and are fed grains and industrial waste.

    • CarbonaNotGlue

      Hypochondria is rampant and contagious in the USA. Eg the new-with-this-generation “gluten intolerance” .. snort .. humans do not evolve that fast.

  • lance

    If milk doesn’t bother you,then drink up. Buy organic and you will be safe from grain fed,hormone cows. Its that simple.

    • Sandra Homemaker

      Unless it says “grass-fed”, organic milk is still from grain fed cows. They are just fed organic corn and/or soy.

  • Jpglackin

    One final comment on this is really more a statement about my own personal experience. I grew up on and around farms, drank lots of milk every day, could eat my weight in ice cream, and even owned an ice cream store at one time. I went vegetarian and refused to give up dairy, as I loved dairy of all kinds. 

    However, years ago, 14 to be exact, I was training for the Stockholm Marathon and I was in exceptional shape. I ran anywhere from 8 to 20 miles a day, 6 days a week. I was a machine. The problem was that I had a congestion that I could not shake. I went to doctor after doctor and specialist after specialist and nobody could figure out what was wrong with me. It was frustrating. I finally was lamenting my issue on a web board and Dr. Ruth Heidrich (, a 6 time Ironman Triathalon finisher at over 60 years old, happened to be monitoring the board. She asked me to tell her what I ate that day. I explained that I had a little yogurt, a little this, a little that, some cheese on this, and little more of that, and she responded and told me that my issue was simple, “Lose the dairy. You are lactose intolerant.” WHAT?!! That’s impossible. I have been eating dairy my whole life and there’s never been problem. How could I be having a problem now?!! As she explained it is that I was a Ferrari, when I used to be a Chevy. Putting low quality gas in a Chevy is largely undetectable. Put low quality gas in a Ferrari and it will barely run. I cut out the dairy, begrudgingly, and my issue went away almost instantly. I have never looked back. 

    When you are a Chevy and you consume “bad fuel” you don’t really notice. “i am a little gassy today” or “I have a sour stomach” or “My acid reflux is acting up” or “My doctor says that my bad breath is just stomach acidity” or “My migraines are caused by stress” or a host of other issues all of which your doctor is more than willing to write you a prescription to treat, but is largely incapable of curing. 

    Think of it this way, when you put your hand in a flame, it burns your hand and you pull it away. If you continue you put it in the flame, the flesh will burn away. The pain is your body telling you to STOP putting your hand in the flame. When you ingest something your body doesn’t like, it reacts to it. Sometimes it can be overt, like vomiting, and other times it can be subtle like gas or migraines. If you continue to ingest something that your body does not like, eventually disease will form, just like as if you kept your hand in the flame. The issue is, most people are in such bad shape and so out of touch with their body’s healthy condition, they are more of a Yugo than a Chevy, and they can’t notice the warning signs or they just ignore them.  

  • Not a health nut

    I appreciate your final thoughts on this issue.  Milk processing and cattle treatment need further investigation.  It seems that giving cows synthetic drugs to make them continue to produce mass quantities of milk has a much more direct connection to early puberty, etc.  As with all claims of causing cancer and other ailments, nothing is good for you in excess.  Remember when apples were all over the news as the newest carcinogenic??  All in moderation, and a balanced diet where your nutrients come from more than one source (e.g., milk AND green leafy vegetables for vitamin C and calcium) will always be ideal.  Keep the “science experiments” out of the food chain, and we’d all be amazed at how much healthier we get as a population.

  • Austin Danger Wiegand

    Most people just won’t change their diet unless something obviously causes an issue.
    Why is it more acceptable to drink cows milk than human milk? Cow milk is specifically formulated for baby cows, just like human milk is specifically formulated for baby humans.
    But I drink tap water out of a glass jar so I bet most people think I’m crazy for just that.

  • FrugalArugula

    Many years ago I wrote a bs college research paper on [insert drug], its affects, addictiveness and use around the world. I found it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find a single US sourced paper that was not laden with propaganda about how it was the worst thing in the world and would ruin anyone who did it once. Blah, blah, blah, war on drugs.

    However, I found a plethora of European and Australian sources that stated otherwise and offered many other viewpoints. I’m not saying I agree. I’m just saying that at least they existed.

    My point, is that milk is one of the most heavily marketed products in the United States  and that it’s a *deeply* guarded product in American consumption, on the federal level. An attack on the concept of not drinking milk because it could be bad for you is like an attack on the US military servicemen or some such. So reliable data on this… I dunno. I have a hard time believing that it will come from the US. 

    They’re already going crazy about the raw milk. I firmly believe the only reason raw milk is a problem, is there’s no way to torture the animal to get a high yield and get a safe consumable product at the same time. God forbid a farmer sell milk on their own.

  • Sahni

    workout is the key to almost all physical and mental problems!

  • Sahni

    WORKOUT – is the key to almost all physical and mental problems!

  • H Sahni

    Eat away everything in moderation and WORKOUT – is the key to almost all physical and mental problems! 

    • Mepfit04

      Everything in moderation is what is giving a lot of our society physical and mental problems.

  • Thedecadeofshe

    Has Fooducate done a review of The China Study and if not, could they?  I have not read the book, but as a nutrition professional, have heard that it’s an interesting piece of epidemiology that raises several hypothesis that merit follow up in prospective studies.  Without the follow up, we should all be skeptical of epi data.  These types of epi studies have not always led us down the right path.  Remember when everyone was excited about antioxidant vitamins because of epi studies showing lower risk of cancer and heart disease in people consuming higher intakes of these vitamins?  Then randomized, controlled trials showed that beta-carotene and vitamin E actually resulted in increased risk of death in at-risk subjects.   Red meat is in a similar category.  Epi studies always link red meat with increased risk of coronary heart disease.  But randomized controlled trials that feed people beef at levels that exceed national averages for intake show that beef does not increase cholesterol, blood pressure, or indices of inflammation, all established risk factors for coronary heart disease.  (Preliminary results suggest that processed red meats may be culprit, and not unprocessed beef) 

    I personally don’t drink milk and neither do two of my three kids.  I agree with many of the comments that while it’s a good source of nutrients, you can get the same nutrients from other sources.  But I’m looking at PubMed for randomized, controlled, peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate unfavorable effects of milk on health outcomes and with the exception of a handful of papers, I’m not seeing much.  Lots of stuff available on the internet that is not peer-reviewed or written by scientists, but I wouldn’t call that evidence against milk. 

    • Jim Cooper

      There have been a number of serious criticisms of The China Study. Here’s one and links to others:

      • Thedecadeofshe

        Thanks Jim.  Interesting that the Campbell is a trained animal scientist, not an epidemiologist.  

        • Thedecadeofshe

          Whoops, didn’t mean to call him “the Campbell”.  

          • Dr. W

            You would be surprised, there are far more animal scientists and veterinarians working in the food/nutrition related fields than most people realize. I am one of them.

          • Jpglackin

            With all of the antibiotics, genetic engineering, and hormone use, I would bet that it is a lot more scientists and veterinarians than farmers. It’s really rather sad, actually. 

  • SuperMom101

    Can’t wait to see the movie.

    Ten years ago when I was treated for a hormone receptive tumor at the age of 38 I gave up all dairy products after reading Jane Plant’s book: Your Life in Your Hands, Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer and have never looked back.

    Here’s a terrific article on why today’s milk (and dairy products) may not be nature’s perfect food (and she’s not even talking about the artificial growth hormone administered to cow’s:

    Every time I read a study about why we need vitamin D from dairy or calcium from dairy or…it takes me only three clicks to tie it to the dairy industry.

    So, for me…I’ve been dairy free for over 10 years.

    Best health always,