Milk

Here is a speech I gave in 2007 for Jeffery Matthews’ Voice and Speech class on the myth of milk’s health properties.

Milk: Don’t Fool Me Twice

“Just as pure as the water you drink… and practically untouched by human hands.”

This advertisement, printed in the 1934 New York State Journal of Medicine was used to promote cigarettes despite the fact that the first strong connection between lung cancer and smoking had been made more than 20 years prior. Now this may not surprise some of you. Some of you may know that for the majority of the 20th century big tobacco was able to keep doubt in the minds of citizens and even doctors over the potency of their drug.

Sadly, today, there is still information being dictated to us through the money of big corporations. Most notably, information on milk. Contrary to popular belief, milk is not good for you. That you may be hearing this for the first time is simply a testament to the marvelous propaganda program out of the American Dairy Industry. However, there are tasty alternatives that you can pour on your bowl of Wheaties and that help keep you strong, healthy, and best of all safe.

In order to begin to understand the problems associated with milk consumption we must first break through the most well known yet most covered up claims by the dairy industry. Let’s begin with their claim that milk is good for the bones and prevents osteoporosis. This claim is not just false but actually the opposite of the truth.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “The recommendation to drink three glasses of low-fat milk or eat three servings of other dairy products per day to prevent osteoporosis is [a] step in the wrong direction.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition goes even further to say that “the results of several studies suggest positive associations” between “dairy consumption” and “bone fractures.” One of these studies, by the American Journal of Public Health looked at 78,000 women over a twelve-year period. They found that those who got the most dairy calcium suffered more fractures than those who got little or none.

Unfortunately, bone fractures are not the only health issues shown to be caused by dairy intake. According to the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “dairy products… are associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer.” This is because milk increases concentration of a protein called Insulin-like Growth Factor-1, or IGF-1. This protein is strongly linked to cancer risk in general as well; as the European Journal of Cancer reports, “IGF-1 plays a major role in human breast cancer cell growth.”

Other diseases whose symptoms are exacerbated by milk include Autism and Parkinson’s, both of which are agitated by high levels of milk’s protein casein.

So, how did we get here? How did we let misleading milk advertisements affect public policy and our lifestyles? Well, as I have already mentioned, money has played a huge role. And the dairy industry has a lot of it.

Big Dairy’s big money’s big influence is most prevalent in two categories: research and politics.

If any of you have looked up articles on this subject you may be asking “but what about all of those studies that support the Dairy Industry’s claims”? The thing is, most of those studies were paid for by members of the Dairy Industry. This is a problem because, according to a 2007 article in the Public Library of Science, research by the milk industry is four to eight times more likely to support their previous advertising claims than research funded elsewhere. In addition, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that many studies by the dairy industry have led to inconclusive results “because of poor design.”

But research can only go so far without a few friends in Washington. Disappointingly, millions of dollars have been used there, too, for the sole purpose of convincing politicians to read only certain skewed studies. On November 13th of last year this money was used to convince Congress to pass the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which states that any action – including non-physical and non-violent action – that hinders profits for animal enterprises (like the dairy industry) is now considered Terrorism and is a federal crime. So basically, it makes me a rogue freedom fighter for giving this speech – after all, if I convince all of you to stop drinking milk, I can now be labeled a terrorist by the government of the United States. While the ACLU did get Congress to add an amendment that probably protects me, the Milk Lobby’s influence is obvious and far-reaching after only a short look into the many bills they’ve influenced.

The good news, is that there are substitutions for milk. There are ways to prevent Osteoporosis and get our needed calcium without drinking milk. In fact, according to the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, exercise earlier in life is the most important contributing factor to bone density later in life. More so than any diet. For calcium, fortified Orange Juice as well as soy milk contain the same amount of calcium as milk while hummus, broccoli, and even almonds all have good amounts of calcium. Here’s some more good news: according to the American Heart Association calcium is absorbed and retained more from plant-based sources than dairy sources.

There are many, many things that money can do. Money can dictate what is right but it cannot make it right. Money can deny the truth from being revealed but it cannot deny the truth. Therefore, today, I am not asking you all to be activists, I am not asking you to join me in a crusade to take down the dairy industry. We would fail. Instead, I am telling you, what is right, I am telling you, the truth; in hopes to help you be a little more suspicious the next time you see a got milk ad. In hopes that you may choose soy milk the next time you go to Starbucks, in hopes that you will help yourself and those around you live healthier lives by abstaining at least partially from milk.

Is 2% milk better than whole milk? Sure. Is skim milk better than 2%? You bet. But as long as you drink milk, as long as you take in IGF-1 and Casein and all those other harmful ingredients, you are allowing money to dictate the truth and not asking yourself what truly is the healthy solution. Hopefully, the next time you’re sitting on the metro and you see an ad that says: “Milk – just as pure as the water you drink and practically untouched by human hands” you may chuckle to yourself, remember this speech, and be happy that you have not allowed advertising to dictate your health.