The milk of any species was designed for one purpose only to feed its young. Humans are the only creatures on earth that drink the milk designed for another species, and we continue to do so all our adult lives, never weaning ourselves off it.
The enzymes we need to break down and digest milk are renin and lactase. By the age of four, many of us lose the ability to digest lactose because we can no longer synthesize the digestive enzyme lactose. This lactose intolerance results in diarrhea, flatulence and stomach cramps. Some 90 per cent of adult Asian and black people, and 20 per cent of Caucasian children, are lactose intolerant.
The level of the protein casein in cows' milk is 300 times higher than in human breast milk, which is predominantly made up of the protein lactalbumin, which is easily digestible by babies. Nature has designed the milk of each animal species specifically to meet the needs of its young. Casein is intended to be broken down by the four stomach digestive system of baby cows. In human stomachs, it coagulates and forms large, tough, dense, difficult to digest curds. When the protein of another animal is introduced into the body, it may cause an allergic reaction (Journal of Allergy, 41: 226, 1968), the most common symptoms of which are chronic runny nose, persistent sore throat, hoarseness, bronchitis and recurrent ear infections. The mucus membranes lining the joints and lungs can become swollen or inflamed, contributing to rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Some babies are so sensitive that they can react badly to the cows' milk that their breast feeding mother ingests. In one study, breast fed babies were found to react to foods eaten by their mother, mainly cows' milk and eggs, and once the mother stopped eating these, the baby's symptoms cleared up (David Freed, ed, Health Hazards of Milk, Baslliere Tindall 1984). Cows' milk can also clog the arteries of young children and babies. A pathologist in Derbyshire, England, noted that out of 16 cot deaths, the only baby with normal arteries was the one who was breast fed (reference, as above).
One of the most outspoken opponents of dairy products, US Dr William A Ellis says: "Over my 42 years of practice, I've performed more than 25,000 blood tests for my patients. These tests show conclusively, in my opinion, that adults who use milk products do not absorb nutrients as well as adults who don't. Of course, poor absorption, in turn, means chronic fatigue" (Healthview Newsletter, Virginia, spring 1978).
Milk actively blocks absorption of iron from other sources. Breast fed babies have a much higher rate of iron absorption than those fed cows' milk formulae, even if those formulae are fortified with iron (John Robbins, Diet for a New America, Stillpoint Publishing, New Hampshire, USA, 1987).
Milk is touted as a great natural source of calcium, and we are told to eat plenty of calcium to prevent osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones. In fact, eating dairy products can increase the rate at which calcium is lost from the body and so hasten osteoporosis. As well as being high in calcium, dairy products are also high protein foods. If we have too much protein in the diet from milk products or any other source, such as meat, fish or eggs, the body has to get rid of the excess. To do this, the kidneys must lose calcium as they cleanse the blood of excess waste, a process known as protein induced hypercalciuria (J Nutr, 1981; iii: 553; Trans NY Acad Sci, 1974; 36: 333; Am J Clin Nutr, 1974; 27: 916).
People in the United States and Scandinavian countries consume more dairy products than anywhere else in the world, yet they have the highest rates of osteoporosis (Clin Ortho Related Res, 1980; 152: 35). This fact emphasizes the threat of excessive protein in the diet and suggets that dairy products offer no protection against osteoporosis, probably due to the high protein content of milk (Am J Clin Nutr, 1985; 41: 254).
The body's ability to absorb and utilize calcium depends on the amount of phosphorus in the diet (R Hur, Food Reform: Our Urgent Need, Heidelberg Press 1975). The higher the calcium/phosphorus ratio, the less bone loss takes place and the stronger the skeleton, provided the intake of protein is not excessive. The foods which contain higher calcium/phosphorus ratios are fruit and vegetables. Nor is low fat milk any better. It contains one per cent butter fat and a full complement of allergy inciting milk protein.
To the list of problems naturally inherent in human consumption of milk designed for baby cows, we can add a whole host of "unnatural" ones. Cows' milk contains the accumulated pesticides that have been sprayed on the grain fed to cattle, and the female hormones given to cows to increase milk production and body fat. Some milk has also been shown to contain trace metals and radioactivity at levels higher than those permissible in drinking water (Health Hazards in Milk, reference as above). Some 20 per cent of milk producing cows in America are infected with leukemia viruses which, because milk is pooled when collected, infects the whole milk supply.
These cancer inducing viruses are resistant to being killed by pasteurization and have been recovered from supermarket supplies (Medical World News, 16 May 1969). Can it be a coincidence that the highest rates or leukemia are found in children aged three to 13 who consume the most milk products, and dairy farmers who, as a profession, have the highest rate of leukemia of any occupational group?