Friday, October 29, 2004

Why I'm not a lefty Greeny and that bad, bad cow milk

I am not a vegetarian. If I have a problem with meat-eating it's the conditions in which the animals are housed, grown and killed. I don't find eating other animals morally reprehensible. If I'm walking somewhere in the Tanzanian bush and a lion eats me, well, good for him, tough luck for me. That's the way it is, some eat, some get eaten. Same with furs. I don't object to using animal products per se. I use leather and have boots that have fur. But it's from animals whose hide was obtained as a by-product, as it were. It's rather a way of putting everything to good use, of not wasting any part of the animal. I do object if the animals are bred simply for that purpose. If they are kept in very small cages for all their lives [this is why I eat almost only fish and free-ranging poultry]. If they are electrocuted as a means to keep as much of the fur unblemished as possible. And just so you know, bullfighting is cowardly. Those bull have the best of lives, mind you. They get to spend years on an open field with loads of trees and grass and fresh air and all the roaming they could wish for. It's the end of their lives that is so degrading. Oh, and so is fox-hunting, so you don't accuse me of being Brit-blind. And hunters in Portugal, even those who actually eat what they kill, have an abysmal tendency to drop their hunting dogs to starve by the side of the road. Said dogs then form packs (the ones who survive that is) and kill sheep. And the wolves are blamed. Wolves will kill only what they can eat. They do not maul as many sheep as they can sink their teeth into. There haven't been any wolves in Serra da Estrela, for instance, in over 25 years. But they get blamed so the farmers can collect a State compensation. A wolf in captivity here lives maybe 10 years. In the wild, where there are hardly any left, 2-3 (locals kill them AND not enough natural prey. We have a rehab centre, I volunteered there, some other post) And finally, I'm NOT a greeny. Groups like Greenpeace? Too hypocritical for me, too badly dressed, too drama-queeny, too media-crazed, too taxonomically-discriminating. I have yet to see them trying to stop a ship or chain themselves to some high bridge to save a newt.

Here we go.

Milk has a
sugar, lactose, that can't be broken down by most adult humans. Many people are intolerant to it. The problem with intolerance is that it's not the same as an allergy. An allergic reaction is much more obvious. Intolerance may mean you have a perpetually irritated bowel and don't know it because it's been like this all your life, why should you think there's anything wrong with it if it's all you've ever known. Permanent inflammation opens a very wide door to [colon] cancer.

Milk also has some proteins that can't be broken down into amino acids and initiate a response from the immune system. Believe you me, it's no fun when your own body turns against you. It's a bloody pain at best. Dairy products induce extra mucus production and burden the immune, digestive and respiratory systems. Many professional athlets and singers stay off dairy for this reason. So, cow milk is mucous-producing and acid-forming. Asthma, allergies, ear infections in small children, arthritis, sinusitis, colic, acne and others. Incidentally, osteoporosis also, isn’t that ironic.

Galactose, derived from the break-down of lactose. The lack of enzymes to break it down (as in 10% of American women) seems to be connected to ovarian cancer.

Pesticides are also a very big problem nowadways. They concentrate in mammalian milk (in a study in the US, they found breast milk contamination in women in 46 states).

Bovine growth hormone - The FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin in 1994 (= bovine growth hormone, BGH). This is a genetically-engineered hormone that increases milk production in cows. The milk has high levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) - and it stimulates cancer cells’ growth. Recently it’s been found there’s a very steep increase in the risk of breast and prostate cancer in women and men with the highest IGF-1 levels. BGH is banned in both Canada and Europe (doesn’t mean it’s not being used still, our government urged beef consumption when it was already known beyond doubt in the high spheres that we had BSE (mad cow) in the country; and did not have AIDS-infected blood lots destroyed. They were later given to hemophiliacs who are now very dead. The ones responsible for the decision walk freely.). Cows treated with BGH contract mastitis very easily (udder inflammation, v painful) and are subsequently treated with antibiotics and sulfamides. Trace amounts can be found in their milk, along with bacteria and pus. Some of these antibiotics even in such small amounts can cause allergic reactions.

The calcium fallacy. We all need calcium, true (we also need phosphorous, magnesium and Vitamin D to absorb it but that's often not mentioned). However, we need calcium that the body can actually use. Let me give you an example. I recently found a cereal brand that made a big deal on the box about it being enriched with iron. I checked the label. Hemoglobin is a pigment made of blood and iron that picks up oxygen and delivers it to the red blood cells, which in turn carry it around the body. This is the catch: ferrous iron (Fe2+) is the one that binds the oxygen. Ferric iron (Fe3+), oxidised, doesn't. Hemoglobin carrying this iron instead of the Fe2+ is a clinical condition called methemoglobinemia. Want to venture a guess as to which iron was present in the cereal? I find it downright criminal. Incidentally, premenopausal women and men who donate blood more than once a year seem to be at lower risk for heart attacks and cancer. GO DONATE SOME, go on. You'll live longer - and someone else will too thanks to your blood. Back to calcium. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1988 reported that calcium excretion and bone loss increase in proportion to the amount of animal protein ingested. There is a lot of Ca in green leafy vegetables, algae, carrots. I will post a table on Ca contents soon here so keep an eye on this post.

My parents, incidentally, were big milk guzzlers. They stopped drinking it and cut down cheese consumption. They now eat and drink non-genetically modified soy milk and yoghurts and my mother says she’d not have believed the difference it has made to her digestive tract. She thought she was fine. My father still eats too much cheese but I'm ready for some drastic measures; he'll not appreciate my cancer cell pictures in my pathology atlas. If that's what it takes, that's what I'll do. They are turning 70 in February and I intend to have them around for at least 2 more decades, if it kills them.

I love Haagen-Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake. I ADORE cheese. I still eat them and will go on eating them but now it's an informed decision. I have cancer cases in both sides of the family, parents and grandparents. I intend to make it hard for the little bastard to get me, so I eat less of it. I'm working on my smoking too - and just so you know, I hardly drink any coke anymore. Tea, tea, tea and more tea. Whenever I sneeze (and I do sneeze more when I eat dairy products) you can hear the chlorophyll choir singing. I SWEAR.

We have been sold this idea of milk as the ultimate child, tooth and bone saviour. Most people are not aware of the implications and possible consequences of dairy consumption. Ponder this: we are THE ONLY SPECIES that consumes milk as ADULTS, a product specifically designed for the needs of the young. We are weaned from our own species’ milk and then move on to another species’ - one that has 4 gastric compartments with harbour things like special bacteria for cellulose breakdown (because they are herbivores), and ruminates its food!

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At 29/10/04 16:27, Blogger Noorster said...

SO scary! I drink & eat huge amounts of dairy.

At 29/10/04 18:26, Blogger d.x. said...

"phallacy?" i hope you mean fallacy... because the other one would be too freudian.

anyway, you'll be glad to know i stopped drinking milk several years ago. this is a very important post you've written. *applause*

At 29/10/04 21:14, Blogger The Lioness said...

I have a mind to give you a good spanking a la Oliver Twist, you brat! :DDD I did mean fallacy, I refuse to think about the possible penile implications of it.

At 29/10/04 21:17, Blogger The Lioness said...

Do you know, this actually reminded me of one time when i wrote an essay for school and instead "point of view" kept writing "point of you". It was quite embarrassing, especially the teacher's note on the margin ("It's point of VIEW. Come see me after class if there's any doubt in your mind." Smug bastard.)

At 6/11/04 00:39, Blogger M said...

you are right on about milk being sold as this magical drink that makes people strong and tall and will save children from broken bones ever. there was a great article on several years ago about this myth. ever notice that nearly no one in Asia drinks much milk, since most of them are lactose intolerant? yet rates of osteoporosis are lower in these countries, where folks don't drink milk. this doesn't prove anything conclusively, but it doesn't really support the argument that only milk and calcium will save you from becoming a brittle-boned sack of skin.

At 17/2/06 21:56, Anonymous Manuela said...

Sobbing... just.... sobbing.

Please no.... not cheese... I can't give up cheese... waaaaaahhhhh!


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