Dairy is Good for You
In your recent articles, "How Safe Is Your Milk?" and "Simple Swaps for Safer Dairy," you've given women a set of mistaken reasons to avoid dairy products at a time when all Americans, and women and children in particular do not meet their daily requirements for calcium, potassium and Vitamin D, plentifully supplied by milk and other dairy foods. You've also fallen into the journalistic trap of connecting a particular food --in this case, dairy--to a particular disease --cancer--when medical researchers, epidemiologists and even food scientists like me will not agree to this particular cause and effect relationship. Let's take a look at some additional science-based information. The recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize the importance of three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods as a core part of a healthy diet. The Dietary Guidelines also say that milk and milk products supply three of the four nutrients of concern (calcium, vitamin D and potassium) in the diets of Americans, as well as many other important nutrients. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S Government Printing Office, December 2010.)
All milk (cow, goat, sheep, camel, human etc.), as well as all animal and plant foods, naturally contain very small amounts of hormones. Your suggestion that readers consume sheep or goat's milk is also restrictive in that these pasteurized products are not commonly found in retail grocery store cases.
You state that, "Galactose may set in motion processes that stimulate the growth of ovarian cells and follicles, adding to the lifetime stress on the ovaries." You correctly state that this is a theory, and, in fact, there is no scientific evidence to indicate that consumption of lactose promotes cancer. However, based on this theory, you recommend consumption of lactose-free milk. Lactose-free milk is produced by adding lactase to milk. Lactase is an enzyme that converts lactose into its constituent sugars (glucose and galactose). Consequently, lactose-free milk contains the same level of galactose as regular milk, it is just no longer linked to a molecule of glucose. Consumption of lactose-free milk will not decrease consumption of galactose. If a person is lactose intolerant, they simply lack the enzyme, lactase, and when they consume regular milk, the lactose is metabolized in their large intestine and they experience intestinal
discomfort. Lactose-free milk provides these consumers the opportunity to consume milk without having digestive issues. And lactose intolerance doesn't mean avoiding dairy altogether. It's important for people with lactose intolerance to find a way to meet their recommended intake of calcium and milk's other essential nutrients. In addition to lactose-free milk, fermented dairy products such as regular or reduced-fat Cheddar cheese are nutrient dense, contain very little lactose (<.20%) and can be readily consumed by people that are lactose intolerant.
Some dairy farmers choose to use recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) as a tool to help cows produce more milk more resourcefully. Studies show that milk from cows treated with the supplemental hormone rbST is the same wholesome product that we have enjoyed for years. The use of recombinant bovine somatotropin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993 based on an exhaustive review of scientific studies. (Bovine somatotropin. NIH Technol. Assess Statement Online 1990 Dec 5-7; (7):16.)