Doctor’s Tip: Got milk? The case against dairy

Dr. Greg Feinsinger
Doctor's Tip
Dr. Greg Feinsinger

Dairy includes milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. They are low on the list of what people in the longest-lived societies eat, but are high on standard American diet (S.A.D.) — which Dr. Joel Fuhrman jokingly says was designed by ISIS.

Following are some concerns associated with eating dairy products:

  • SATURATED FAT: All dairy products contain saturated fat, which raises LDL (bad cholesterol) and which also inflames the endothelium that lines our arteries — both of which increase risk of heart attacks and strokes. Saturated fat also contributes to obesity, insulin resistance (prediabetes), type 2 diabetes, and early death.
  • PROSTATE CANCER is linked to milk and cheese intake in men, thought to be due to IGF1 (insulin growth factor 1), which is necessary for growth of baby cows — but which in adult men causes prostate cancer cells to replicate.
  • BREAST AND ENDOMETRIAL CANCER: Milk cows are impregnated annually to increase milk production. Pregnancy causes estrogen levels to go up in the cows, and some gets into their milk. In his book “Your Body in Balance, the New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health,” Dr. Neal Barnard say these excess estrogen levels result in higher risk of endometrial and postmenopausal breast cancer.
  • OTHER HORMONE-RELATED CONDITIONS such as acne, infertility, and premature puberty are also associated with estrogens in cows’ milk.
  • TOXINS: Cows store pesticides and other environmental toxins in their meat and fat, and some of these harmful substances end up in their milk. People who eat dairy get 5.5 times the toxin load compared to people who stick to the bottom of the food chain by eating only plants. Parkinson’s Disease is thought to be caused by neurotoxins, and it is estimated that for every glass of milk you drink a day over long periods of time the risk of Parkinson’s increases by 17%.
  • HYPERTENSION: Dr. Frank Sacks showed in the 1970s that milk intake raises blood pressure, irrespective of weight gain.
  • KIDNEY STONES: Dairy and other animal products cause acidic urine, resulting in more kidney stones.
  • SODIUM IN CHEESE: Cheese has a hypertension-causing high sodium content. Salt is addictive, as is the casein protein in cheese. People wanting to switch to a plant-based diet often have more difficulty giving up cheese than anything else.
  • GHEE AND HEART DISEASE: Ghee is butter that has been processed by boiling and is often used in Indian cooking. It causes oxidation of cholesterol, and oxidized cholesterol is especially harmful to arteries. Ghee is thought to be the reason that India has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS of eating animal products are huge compared to eating only plants.
  • ANIMAL RIGHTS issues associated with eating dairy include separation of calves from mothers soon after birth, dehorning, forced impregnation, intensive milk production in confined spaces,  and ultimately being slaughtered.

What to do? It’s easy to replace cows’ milk with unsweetened plant-based milk such as soy (yes, organic soy is good for you), almond, or oat. Kite Hill is a brand of yogurt (only get plain, because flavored has too much sugar) and sour cream available at City Market. Miyoko’s is another plant-based brand, available at Natural Grocers and Whole Foods.

Butter can be replaced by non-dairy spreads such as Earth Balance, which, however, are not oil-free. Fake cheese is better for your health and that of the planet compared to real cheese, although it’s not ideal due to added substances such as sodium.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email

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