Milk, Hormones and Cancer

Hormones play a role in a number of cancers, particularly testicular, breast and prostate. Breast cancer risk increases with fewer pregnancies, early puberty and late menopause, probably due to increased exposure to estrogens. Prostate cancer is rare in eunuchs, suggesting that testosterone production by the testes is a risk factor. This argument is buttressed by the fact that prostate cancer can be triggered in rats by administering testosterone and that removal of the testes has been shown to be an option for the treatment of this cancer. Because these hormone-related cancers appear to be increasing, there has been a great deal of interest in so-called environmental estrogens, compounds that can mimic estrogen activity.

Most of the focus has been on synthetic chemicals found in pesticides, plastics and sunscreens that have estrogenic effects, with some activists suggesting that these are responsible for our “epidemic of cancer.” The fact is that there is no such epidemic, although there is some evidence that the hormone related cancers have increased somewhat. And that may be due to increased environmental hormone exposure, but not necessarily from synthetic chemicals. Natural estrogens are up to 100,000 times more potent than the synthetics that have estrogen mimicking properties. Where are these potent natural estrogens? You can find them in milk.

If we are looking for a hormone-cancer connection, why not look at dairy products? They make a very significant contribution to our hormone intake and epidemiological studies suggest a link with some cancers. In men aged 20 to 39 milk and cheese consumption correlate strongly with the incidence of testicular cancer. In countries where dairy is rarely consumed, Algeria being an example, testicular cancer is rare, while in Denmark and Switzerland, where cheese is eaten in abundance, testicular cancer rates are high. In Japan, prostate cancer was almost non-existent fifty years ago, but has risen in incidence since, paralleling an increase in dairy consumption. Still the rate is only one tenth that in North America where interestingly we consume a lot more dairy products.

Is a connection to dairy scientifically plausible? After all, dairy consumption is not a new idea. Why hasn’t a connection between it and cancer been noted before? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the milk we’re drinking today is different than that in the past. It has a higher level of hormones. This has absolutely nothing to do with bovine growth hormone which is being used in the States but not in Canada to increase milk production. That’s an irrelevant factor. But what is not irrelevant is that today cows are milked for about 300 days a year, and much of that time the cows are pregnant. Estrogen sulphate, the main estrogen in milk, is about thirty times as abundant in milk from pregnant cows than in milk from non-pregnant ones. And the amount of estrogen increases during the later stages of pregnancy. Progesterone also increases.

A comparison of “modern milk” with milk in Mongolia, where cows are traditionally milked only five months of the year, and only during early pregnancy, reveals that the Mongolian milk has a lower hormone content. North American skim milk, though, is an exception. It has as low a hormone content as Mongolian milk since estrogen resides in fat. Another disturbing facet of the dairy-cancer connection is that rats fed milk develop more tumours than those fed water. None of this of course proves that dairy products are a factor in cancer but further investigation is warranted. In any case, you don’t have to go to Mongolia for your low-hormone milk, you can just drink skim milk.

One Response to “Milk, Hormones and Cancer”

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    Renin and lactase are enzymes necessary to break down and digest milk. They are all but gone by the age of 3 in most us. There is an element in all milk known as casein. There is 300 time more casein in cow’s milk than in human’s milk. That’s for the development of huge bones. Casein coagulates in the stomach and forms large, tough, dense, difficult-to-digest curds that are adapted to the four-stomach digestive apparatus of a cow. Once inside human digestive system, this thick mass of goo puts a tremendous burden on the body to somehow get rid of it. In other words, a huge amount of energy must be spent in dealing with it. Unfortunately some of this gooey substance hardens and adheres to the lining of the intestines and prevents the absorption of nutrients into the body. Also the by-products of milk digestion leave a great deal of toxic mucus in the body. It’s very acidic, and some of it is stored in the body until it can be dealt with at a later time. Dairy products cause more weight gain instead of weight loss. Casein, by the way, is the base of one of the strongest glues used in woodworking.

    Proteins are delicate necklaces, composed of different colored beads called amino acids, which occupy assigned places in a string that is the protein. When digestive acids and enzymes break down proteins, the amino acids are used as building blocks for the body’s new proteins. When an intact protein is delivered from one part of the body to another, it conveys an unbroken and uninterrupted message. Milk from one mammalian species to its young is the perfectly designed mechanism that delivers lactoferrins and immunoglobulins to that happily receptive infant. Nature’s way is to produce many more proteins than are required. The wisdom of this mechanism takes into account mass destruction. Enough protein messengers survive to exert their intended effects.

    In homogenized milk, an excess of proteins survive digestion. Simple proteins rarely survive digestion in a balanced world. When milk is homogenized, it passes through a fine filter at pressures equal to 4,000 psi, and in so doing, the fat globules (liposomes) are made smaller (micronized) by a factor of ten times or more. These fat molecules become evenly dispersed within the liquid milk.

    Milk is a hormonal delivery system. With homogenization, milk becomes a very powerful and efficient way of bypassing normal digestive processes and delivering steroid and protein hormones to the human body (both the cow’s natural hormones and the ones they were injected with to produce more milk). Through homogenization, fat molecules in milk become smaller and become “capsules” for substances that bypass digestion. Proteins that would normally be digested in the stomach or gut are not broken down, and are absorbed into the bloodstream.

    The homogenization process breaks up an enzyme in milk (xanthine oxidase), which in its altered (smaller) state can enter the bloodstream and react against arterial walls causing the body to protect the area with a layer of cholesterol. These micronized fat globules are much “sharper” than their larger forebearers, and serve to abrade arterial lumen (the innermost linings of these blood vessels). Such chronic irritation triggers a protective mechanism whereby the body plates out cholesterol onto the lumen to protect it from the constant irritation produced by the micronized fat globules. The end result is atherosclerotic plaquing.

    Combined with two other phenomena of our culture – high level consumption of hydrogenized vegetable oils (another source of this intra-lumen plaque) plus the onslaught of refined sugars and flours (which trigger high level bursts of another potent intra-luminal irritant known as insulin) – this unavoidable side-effect of drinking homogenized milk produces the rapid acceleration of cardiovascular disease now routinely seen in young people.

    In theory, proteins are easily broken down by digestive processes. In reality, homogenization insures their survival so that they enter the bloodstream and deliver their messages. Often, the body reacts to foreign proteins by producing histamines, then mucus. And since cow’s milk proteins can resemble a human protein, they can become triggers for autoimmune diseases. Diabetes and multiple sclerosis are two such examples. The rarest of nature’s quirks results after humans consume homogenized cow’s milk. Nature has the best sense of humor, and always finds a way to add exclamation marks to man’s best-punctuated sentences. One milk hormone, the most powerful growth factor in a cow’s body, is identical to the most powerful growth factor in the human body. Hormones make cells grow, and don’t differentiate between normal cells and cancerous cells. We’re not designed to intake hormones; we make all the ones we need.

    Some doctors who believe that milk proteins cannot possibly survive digestion. They are wrong. The Connecticut cardiologists Oster & Ross discovered that Bovine Xanthene Oxidase (BXO) survived long enough to compromise every one of three hundred heart attack victims over a five-year period. Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) had not been discovered when Oster and Ross made their magnificent observations and conclusions. Bovine Xanthene Oxidase did not set the scientific community on fire. Too many syllables for headline writers. Insulin-like growth factor presents the same problem. Cancer has just two syllables. IGF-I has been identified as the key factor in the growth of every human cancer.

    Homogenized milk, with its added hormones, is rocket fuel for cancer. One day, hopefully, the world will recognize that cow’s milk was never intended for human consumption. We can get all the calcium we need from a healthy, balanced plant-based diet. What we don’t need is all the degenerative disease that dairy products contribute to.

    And if you think that raw, un-pasteurized, un-homogenized milk is a wholesome food, think about this: Even raw un-pasturized cow milk was never a healthful food for humans. It’s only a proper food for baby cows, and even they quit drinking it when they mature. Humans are the only species that “sucks the teats” of other species. Humans’ best food for the first 2 to 4 years is human milk, and after that, even human milk is not proper human food. Plus, the calcium in milk is not well absorbed due to the lack of magnesium, and even when raw, it still contributes to osteoporosis. And even the naturally occurring hormones in milk from cow’s not treated with Bovine Growth Hormone still contribute to cancers.

    Prostate cancer is the fourth most common malignancy among men worldwide and its incidence and mortality have been associated with milk and other dairy product consumption according to the international and interregional correlational studies. Also high intakes of lactose and dairy products, particularly milk, are associated with an increased risk of serous ovarian cancer.

    IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor 1 is an important hormone that is produced in the liver and body tissues. It is a polypeptide and consists of 70 amino acids linked together. All mammals produce IGF-1 molecules very similar in structure and human and bovine IGF-1 are completely identical. IGF-1 acquired its name because it has insulin-like activity in fat (adipose) tissue and has a structure that is very similar to that of proinsulin. The body’s production of IGF-1 is regulated by the human growth hormone and peaks at puberty. IGF-1 production declines with age and is only about half the adult value at the age of 70 years. IGF-1 is a very powerful hormone that has profound effects even though its concentration in the blood serum is only about 200 ng/mL or 0.2 millionth of a gram per mL.

    IGF-1 is known to stimulate the growth of both normal and cancerous cells. In 1990 researchers at Stanford University reported that IGF-1 promotes the growth of prostate cells. This was followed by the discovery that IGF-1 accelerates the growth of breast cancer cells. In 1995 researchers at the National Institutes of Health reported that IGF-1 plays a central role in the progression of many childhood cancers and in the growth of tumours in breast cancer, small cell lung cancer, melanoma, and cancers of the pancreas and prostate. In September 1997 an international team of researchers reported the first epidemiological evidence that high IGF-1 concentrations are closely linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Other researchers provided evidence of IGF-1′s link to breast and colon cancers.

    Bovine growth hormone was first synthesized in the early 1980s using genetic engineering techniques (recombinant DNA biotechnology). Small-scale industry-sponsored trials showed that it was effective in increasing milk yields by an average of 14 per cent if injected into cows every two weeks. In 1985 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States approved the sale of milk from cows treated with rBGH (also known as BST) in large-scale veterinary trials and in 1993 approved commercial sale of milk from rBGH-injected cows. At the same time the FDA prohibited the special labeling of the milk so as to make it impossible for the consumer to decide whether or not to purchase it.

    Concerns about the safety of milk from BST-treated cows were raised as early as 1988 by scientists in both England and the United States. One of the main concerns is the high levels of IGF-1 found in milk from treated cows; estimates vary from twice as high to 10 times higher than in normal cow’s milk. There is also concern that the IGF-1 found in treated milk is much more potent than that found in regular milk because it seems to be bound less firmly to its accompanying proteins. Consultants paid by Monsanto, the major manufacturer of rBGH, vigorously attacked the concerns. In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August 1990 the consultants claimed that BST-milk was entirely safe for human consumption. They pointed out that BST-milk contains no more IGF-1 than does human breast milk – a somewhat curious argument as very few grown-ups continue to drink mother’s milk throughout their adult life. They also claimed that IGF-1 would be completely broken down by digestive enzymes and therefore would have no biological activity in humans. Other researchers disagree with this claim and have warned that IGF-1 may not be totally digested and that some of it could indeed make its way into the colon and cross the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. This is of special concern in the case of very young infants and people who lack digestive enzymes or suffer from protein-related allergies.

    Researchers at the FDA reported in 1990 that IGF-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization and that pasteurization actually increases its concentration in BST-milk. They also confirmed that undigested protein could indeed cross the intestinal wall in humans and cited tests which showed that oral ingestion of IGF-1 produced a significant increase in the growth of a group of male rats – a finding dismissed earlier by the Monsanto scientists. The most important aspect of these experiments is that they show that IGF-1 can indeed enter the blood stream from the intestines – at least in rats.

    Unfortunately, essentially all the scientific data used by the FDA in the approval process was provided by the manufacturers of rBGH and much of it has since been questioned by independent scientists. The effect of IGF-1 in rBGH-milk on human health has never actually been tested and in March 1991 researchers at the National Institutes of Health admitted that it was not known whether IGF-1 in milk from treated cows could have a local effect on the esophagus, stomach or intestines.

    Whether IGF-1 in milk is digested and broken down into its constituent amino acids or whether it enters the intestine intact is a crucial factor. No human studies have been done on this, but recent research has shown that a very similar hormone, Epidermal Growth Factor, is protected against digestion when ingested in the presence of casein, a main component of milk. Thus there is a distinct possibility that IGF-1 in milk could also avoid digestion and make its way into the intestine where it could promote colon cancer. It is also conceivable that it could cross the intestinal wall in sufficient amounts to increase the blood level of IGF-1 significantly and thereby increase the risk of breast and prostate cancers.

    Despite assurances from the FDA and industry-paid consultants there are now just too many serious questions surrounding the use of milk from cows treated with synthetic growth hormone to allow its continued sale. Bovine growth hormone is banned in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The European Union has maintained its moratorium on the use of rBGH and milk products from BST-treated cows are not sold in countries within the Union. Canada has also so far resisted pressure from the United States and the biotechnology lobby to approve the use of rBGH commercially. In light of the serious concerns about the safety of human consumption of milk from BST-treated cows consumers must maintain their vigilance to ensure that European and Canadian governments continue to resist the pressure to approve rBGH and that the FDA in the United States moves immediately to ban rBGH-milk or at least allow its labeling so that consumers can protect themselves against the very real cancer risks posed by IGF-1.

    A new study out of Harvard University showing that pasteurized milk product from factory farms is linked to causing hormone-dependent cancers. It turns out that the concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) model of raising cows on factory farms churns out milk with dangerously high levels of estrone sulfate, an estrogen compound linked to testicular, prostate, and breast cancers.

    Milk from modern dairy farms is identified as the culprit , since large-scale confinement operations where cows are milked 300 days of the year, including while they are pregnant. Compared to raw milk from Mongolia and rural China, which is extracted only during the first six months after cows have already given birth, pasteurized factory milk was found to contain up to 33 times more estrone sulfate.

    Evaluating data from all over the world, a clear link is identified between consumption of such high-hormone milk, and high rates of hormone-dependent cancers. Contrary to what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the conventional milk lobby would have you believe, processed milk from factory farms is not a health product, and is directly implicated in causing cancer.

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