Dairy cows - Jo-Anne McArthur

Why Dairy is Scary! 5 Shocking Facts about the Dairy Industry

Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animal Media

Long gone are the days of dairy being advertised as a nutritious food that should be incorporated into your diet everyday, even multiple times a day. For years, the Canadian Food Guide, doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists have recommended milk and other dairy products such as cheese to be a part of the daily diet.

For decades, dairy was one of the four recommended major food groups, making up 25% of what was taught to be the "ideal" diet. The health claims in favour of dairy often included improved bone health, growth, as well as being the best way for the body to get calcium, an essential mineral. Dairy products are often recommended to people of all ages including pregnant women, toddlers and seniors. The most commonly consumed dairy products include cow's milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and other forms of dairy derivatives that are found in processed foods such as chips, chocolate, pastries, crackers, and others.

Right now in Canada, we are facing a chronic disease epidemic with 1 in 3 people estimated to develop at least one chronic disease in their lifetime, with poor nutrition being one of the leading causes. The importance of nutrition and its influence on our health is no longer deniable.

5 Shocking Facts About the Dairy Industry

  1. Increases Bone Fracture Risk and Mortality Rate
    As we focused more attention on nutrition, we began to unearth the inconsistencies of dairy health claims. A study published in 2014 by The British Journal of Medicine found high dairy consumption was related to higher mortality and increased bone fracture risk. Numerous other studies also showed similar findings that not only did dairy milk fail to improve the risk of bone fracture, but it actually increased the risk! Meanwhile, we are being taught as children to drink milk to help with bone growth and for adults to help with bone strength.
  1. Increases Cancer Risk
    Multiple research studies show that consuming dairy products can raise our risks of many types of cancers, such as prostate cancer. A study from Asia  found men who consumed high amounts of dairy had a 13% increased risk of prostate cancer compared to men who consumed low amounts (Qin et al., 2007). In a later study by the American Journal of Epidemiology, it found consumption of dairy in early life led to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer later in life by 3.2 fold (Torfadottir et al., 2012).

    A study by The British Journal of Cancer on lactose intolerance subjects showed lower cancer rates for lung, breast and ovarian cancers in subjects who didn't consume dairy. Recently published from the International Journal of Epidemiology is a study that found dairy milk can increase breast cancer risk by 50%. Meat and dairy consumers were also found to have significantly higher risk of lymphoma

  1. Increases Infertility 
    Dairy is known to contain steroid hormones. After all, all dairy products are derived from breastmilk from a cow who has recently given birth. Modern genetically altered cows can now even lactate throughout most of pregnancy. Found in cow's milk are steroid hormones such as growth hormones and estrogens and this study found men and children who consumed cow's milk absorbed estrogen which suppressed gonadotropin secretion, leading to a decrease in testosterone secretion. They concluded dairy consumption in children can affect their sexual maturation. Dairy also affects our other hormones and can worsen thyroid disease.
  1. Worsens Many Health Conditions
    Dairy is a known offender to allergies and skin conditions such as eczema and acne. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2015 found that eating dairy foods increased low-grade inflammation. A study published by the Journal of Rheumatology found subjects with osteoarthritis (OA) who ate more dairy products were more likely to need hip replacement surgery.

    Dairy can also worsen digestive issues such as gas and bloating even in those without lactose intolerance. Many people are found to be allergic to dairy or have delayed hypersensitivity responses to animal milks. Dairy milk can worsen colic and gas in babies being breastfed by mothers who consume milk products and is related to recurrent ear infections.

  1. Dairy Milk is Full of Contaminants
    Dairy milk is not just laden with hormones, antibiotics, and bacteria. Many contaminants often find their way into milk indirectly as pesticide residues that are often found on feedstuffs/fodder such as DDT, lindane, dieldrin, etc., or as veterinary drug residues such as antimicrobials, growth promoters, and hormones. Some of these compounds being lipid soluble will be stored in fat tissue and secreted into the milk fat which then goes into dairy products for human consumption. Contaminants may also enter milk directly as a consequence of hygienic or industrial practices (e.g., detergents and sanitizers/disinfectants), or as adulterants as in the case of melamine. There are also milkborne pathogens that are responsible for continuous outbreaks of diseases affecting millions of people a year.  These include infections caused from Listeria monocytogenes, Brucellosis, Salmonella, Campylobacter spp, Corynebacterium diptheriae, Streptococcus pyrogenes, Escherichia coli, and Coxiella burnetii, Mycobacterium, and Yersinia enterocolitica. These pathogens infect hundreds of millions of people a year which is why raw milk is illegal in many parts of the world and only pasteurized milk products are allowed for sale in many countries. Even with pasteurization, many organisms can still find their way into milk products, posing the risk of deadly infections to humans.

Dairy Lobbyists Making False Claims

The dairy lobbying industry has been vastly successful in spreading false health claims by using aggressive propaganda tactics. Through their strong political and economical influence, they have influenced the Canadian Food Guide for decades. Our previous food guides were never based on sound nutritional research, but instead from industry-guided interests; misguiding millions of Canadians on how we should be eating. What's even more concerning are the millions of people who are led to believe that dairy is healthy and necessary, when it actually does more harm than good.

Dairy Industries Are Losing Ground

The current Canadian food guide published in 2019 was a complete overhaul from previous versions, finally basing its recommendations on real unbiased research despite vicious lobbying from the dairy industry against its publication. Not only is the dairy food group completely removed, it recommends people to consume more plant-based products such as soy milk, beans, and legumes, and it encourages Canadians to reduce animal product consumption and to choose plant-based alternatives instead. For the first time in decades, dairy, eggs and meat are no longer recommended as daily staple foods!

Almond milk

Even though the research is strong and clear in regards to the detrimental health effects of dairy on our health as well as the environment and animals, there's still a lot of misconceptions surrounding dairy. To fight a losing battle as more consumers choose plant-based milk products, dairy industries are fighting back using propaganda tactics, spreading false advertisement and claims to confuse its consumers. In February 2019, lobby groups put ads across the country claiming Canadian dairy contains no growth hormones. They were quickly forced to remove these ads as the claims were found to be "incomplete and inaccurate."

With the vast amount of information now being available, dairy industries can no longer hide the truth. Plant-based milk industries are flourishing as consumers learn more about the scary facts of dairy milk and many are choosing almond milk, soy, cashew, oat, coconut and pea protein milks. Just oat milk sales alone spiked by 686% in 2019!

Many meat company giants are starting to invest heavily in plant-based protein products such as Tyson, Smithfield, Maple Foods and Nestlé. There are also companies that only create plant-based animal protein options such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. The need for dairy is rapidly diminishing as new, healthy, options are emerging on the market. You can now easily find plant-based alternatives for cheeses, milks, yogurt, ice-cream, sour cream and others. Not only are these replacements tasty, they are much healthier alternatives than dairy products. It's only going to be a matter of time before drinking another animal's milk will become archaic and even barbaric.

If you need further convincing, check out the "Dairy is Scary" YouTube video.

If you're ready to try a vegan diet devoid of all animal products and live compassionately, check out Challenge 22 for a vegan experience. If you want to do even more, you can consider joining one of our Save chapters and learn how you can make a difference for animals, climate and health.

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Author: Animal Save Movement