Milk: It Does a Body Good -- or Does It?
WebMD News Archive
Several studies of a possible type 1 diabetes/milk link have
been published and the results are ambiguous Hillary Wright, RD, MEd,
nutritionist for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston, tells WebMD.
"I have two brothers with type 1 diabetes and so I am interested in this
area. I have never seen firm evidence to suggest that cow's milk promotes
However, a negative for milk is "the reports in some cancer
prevention and cancer survivor literature that milk -- because of bovine growth
hormones taken by cows -- can increase the risk of cancer or cancer recurrence.
Many times oncologists will recommend that patients be taken off dairy products
because of this fear," says Wright.
She says that she advises patients to carefully consider the
options before removing dairy products. "I ask them, 'Ok, how are you going
to replace this? What will be your other sources of calcium? Of vitamin D? Of
protein?'" She says that a better approach is to use only "organic,
hormone-free milk. You can find this readily available in supermarkets and
Although Turner and the PCRM question milk consumption at any
age, most groups support milk drinking by children younger than two, says Kava.
"The brain is growing so fast at that time, that whole milk is really
At the University of Vermont in Burlington, Rachel Johnson,
PhD, RD, professor of nutrition and associate dean for research, has been
studying calcium intake by children. Johnson tells WebMD that her work has
convinced her that in order for children to meet the recommended daily
requirement of calcium, "they need to drink milk."
She says she was sold on this idea when "we did a study of
where teenagers consumed their noontime meals. We found that in terms of diet
quality, those who ate the school lunch meal instead of bringing a bag lunch or
eating elsewhere had higher calcium intake then the other children." She
says that the "drink of choice with a school lunch is milk."
She then conducted a national study of children aged 5 to 17
and discovered "that a mother's milk consumption is a good predictor of
both the amount and type of milk a child consumes." She says that if the
mother regularly drinks milk, "chances are the child will be a milk
drinker." And if the mother's milk choice is skim, the child is likely to
pick skim as well, she says.