Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are popular, but are they healthy? Many people eat dairy products because they like the taste; others consume these foods because they think dairy can help them develop strong bones and reduce their risk of osteoporosis, which is a condition in which the bones become soft and porous. But what many consumers don’t know is that dairy can have negative health effects on the human body.
Negative Health Effects of Dairy Consumption
One systematic review and meta-analysis of 32 studies found a link between higher intake of dairy products and prostate cancer. The scientists concluded their study by saying that the increased risk of prostate cancer was probably not due to the fat and calcium in dairy products, but rather the result of other components in the dairy products. Another study shows that the main protein in dairy products, casein, can promote the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Early reproductive development in children
The results of another study suggest hormones in dairy foods may contribute to the development of breast, prostate and endometrial cancer. Dairy cattle receive injections of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production. Research shows that commercial cow’s milk contains large amounts of the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone, which could affect sexual maturation of pre-pubescent children.
Weaker bones and osteoporosis
The results of one study suggests that the more dairy a person consumes, the higher his or her risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures. The researchers in that study performed a systemic review and meta-analysis, which means the scientists reviewed and analyzed the results of several studies to reach a conclusion. In most cases – but not all cases – the studies showed an association between dairy consumption and higher rates of thinning bones and hip fractures. The authors of the meta-analysis concluded their study by saying that an increased intake of dairy is not associated with stronger bones and fewer hip fractures.
Another study of 96,000 people, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that the more milk that males consumed as teenagers, the more broken bones they experienced as adults.
Alzheimer’s disease and death
Research also shows that consuming high-fat dairy products as part of a Western diet, which also includes meats and sweets, increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses. Another study that followed more than 2,200 people in New York for four years found that people who stuck with a Mediterranean diet, which includes whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and olive oil, had a 40 percent lower risk of dementia than did those who ate meat and dairy products. A long-term Swedish study of more than 61,000 women and 45,000 men found a potential link between higher milk consumption and mortality.