Cow’s milk and cow’s milk derivatives are such devastating, health destroying products it’s hard to know where to begin in terms of explaining their contribution to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases. In this post I’ll attempt to convey the magnitude of the sickness, suffering, and disease to which I believe dairy is a primary contributor and often a cause. Milk and milk products derived from other dairy animals (goats, sheep etc.) are marginally less damaging but should still be avoided if you are trying to recover from or prevent a chronic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.
In the past I always had a desire to avoid milk products but I could never manage it in practice. I knew they were causing problems for me and I tried to mitigate the effects by shifting to goat’s milk, and then ultimately to raw goat’s milk from which I also made kefir. I stayed at that level for a few years while I was concentrating on other aspects of my diet and investigating various supplements and herbal remedies etc., however in recent years I came to thoroughly understand the dangers of and the damage caused by consuming milk and milk derived products, and I took all forms of dairy out of my diet.
The science is clear and overwhelming in terms of the disease-promoting and often disease-causing effects of dairy and my personal experience supports this. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis as I do or if you have any other chronic disease, I would urge you to consider removing all forms of dairy products from your diet. They provide no essential or effective nutritional benefit for human beings, their production causes massive suffering to the animals involved, the unsustainable and inefficient use of water and feed in order to produce the milk has a devastating effect on our environment and climate, and I believe that milk and other dairy products are one of the greatest contributors to disease and ill-health on the planet.
Milk and milk derived products can cause the excessive production of mucus leading to a constantly stuffy nose, they can cause or contribute to sinus problems, they cause acne and other allergic skin problems, they cause or contribute to the development of diabetes (both type I and type II), they promote the development of cancer and heart disease, they contribute to brain diseases and the causation of strokes, and so much more.
We have been constantly and consistently brainwashed by the dairy industry, the medical profession, schools, and peer pressure into believing that milk is good for us and that we need it for its calcium content in order to have strong bones. Nothing could be further from the truth, milk is definitely not good for us and it contributes to osteoporosis (excess calcium consumption depletes vitamin D levels) and a host of other hormonal and age-related diseases. It’s said that around two thirds of the world’s population is unable to digest milk largely due to lactose intolerance, therefore in my opinion the promotion of milk is not only unethical because of the harm it causes to all humans but also because two thirds of humans (I feel it’s discriminatory) are directly unable to digest it in the first place, not to mention the horrific suffering of countless millions of animals.
To my knowledge based on my own research, milk and milk derived products (especially cheese and butter i.e. saturated fat) are one of the greatest contributors to weight gain and obesity, and weight has a direct impact on the severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. In fact, being overweight (on a standard UK (SUK) or American (SAD) diet) or obese has a direct impact on the severity of most chronic diseases. Arthritis is bad enough already without putting excessive weight or strain on joints, muscles, tendons and cartilage. Probably the most damaging internal effect of dairy is on the circulatory system and the heart, and being overweight puts additional stress on these too.
It will take me another year or two to recover from my own current rheumatoid arthritis situation which I’ve discussed in some of my other posts. However, giving up milk and milk derived products greatly improved my general health, cured my asthma and my hayfever, improved my circulation and substantially reduced the visible inflammation in my knees and my feet. Later, when I also removed processed oils and fats from my diet, my health improved further; for example the spider veins which were visible above my top lip have now disappeared, this is an indication of improved circulation.
Milk is perfectly designed to promote the rapid growth of baby cows, baby sheep and baby goats (these being the most common sources of our dairy products), far far more rapidly than human breast milk contributes to the overall growth of a baby human being. It’s not surprising then, that the increased density of protein and fat along with the hormonal load that makes up the milk from these animals, has such a detrimental effect on human babies, children, teens and adults in terms of contributing to overweight, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Humans are designed to develop much more slowly than these animals and the less dense nutrient profile of human breast milk reflects this.
Milk and milk derived products have some direct causative effects on rheumatoid arthritis (particularly the casein protein in relation to molecular mimicry) but because of their negative impact on overall health and the creation of other chronic diseases, the removal of dairy from the diet also contributes to the health of the immune system and the detoxification organs such as the skin, liver, and kidneys. I’m going to provide a substantial amount of support for my comments above and break it down into sections showing the specific detrimental effects of different components of milk and milk derived products.
Dairy’s Contribution To Rheumatoid Arthritis and Other Chronic Diseases
A very recent study by the University of Central Florida shows a link between a bacteria found in milk (and meat) and the development of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s actually a mycoplasma called MAP and that’s interesting because for many decades now it’s been known that long-term treatment with a low-dose of doxycycline (and similar) antibiotic can cause remission in many rheumatoid arthritis patients. The treatment is called The Antibiotic Protocol and in theory it was designed to attack mycoplasma. Here is the link to the university’s recent article: Study Finds Bacteria in Milk Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis, with a short extract below.
“The bacteria can be spread to humans through the consumption of infected milk…”
A great summary of many of the detrimental and disease-causing effects of milk and milk products can be found in the following article written by Dr. Joe Tatta: Got Joint Pain? Why Dairy Makes Me Hurt. He also provides a useful list of ‘foods’ containing hidden sources of dairy.
I’ve included the following article because like me Dreena Burton is trying to highlight the disadvantages and dangers of consuming dairy products. She provides a list of compelling reasons to avoid dairy products: Reasons to Stop Eating Dairy, please also take a look at the valuable reader’s comments below her article :-)
Here is another excellent article from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine detailing common food triggers for rheumatoid arthritis where dairy is listed as a major contributor: Foods and Arthritis key extract below.
“Avoid Major Arthritis Triggers
1. Dairy products*
4. Wheat, oats, rye
6. Citrus fruits
*All dairy products should be avoided: skim or whole cow’s milk, goat’s milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
**All meats should be avoided: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, etc.”
Also, please note the study references at the end of the article.
Molecular Mimicry in Rheumatoid Arthritis Triggered by Cow’s Milk
Here is an article by Dr John McDougall MD from Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center demonstrating the role of diet in both the causation and alleviation of rheumatoid arthritis: Diet: Only Hope for Arthritis. The whole article is extremely informative and valuable but there’s a paragraph about halfway through the article under ‘molecular mimicry’ which is of particular interest in relation to milk protein and rheumatoid arthritis, extract (including study reference) below.
“Molecular mimicry in rheumatoid arthritis has been identified with cow’s milk. One analysis showed that the amino acid residues 141-157 of bovine albumin were essentially the same as the amino acids found in human collagen in the joints (Clin Chim Acta 203:153, 1991). The antibodies synthesized to attack the foreign cow’s milk proteins, end up attacking the joint tissues because of shared sequences of amino acids between the cartilage and the milk proteins, that the antibody is directed to attack.”
Milk Proteins Triggering Joint Inflammation Via Leaky Gut
It’s clear to me based on my own experience and all of my research that leaky gut is a definite contributor (and often a cause) to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Once gut integrity is compromised a number of substances can enter into the bloodstream which are not supposed to be there and are therefore recognised by the immune system as foreign invaders. For example; fragments of milk proteins, bacterial endotoxins, egg proteins, wheat proteins, chicken proteins and viral fragments.
Here’s a link to an article written by Dr Michael Klapper MD, discussing the role of diet in autoimmune diseases: Diet, Arthritis, & Autoimmune Diseases. Again, the whole article is extremely valuable and well worth reading, however I want to highlight part of a section about a third of the way down the article titled: “The Most Likely Culprits”, extract below.
“Almost any protein or other food substance can set off adverse reactions in the joints; however, in my clinical experience, the foods most likely to trigger joint inflammation are (in order):
1. Milk proteins (especially casein and lactalbumin) in dairy products – including whey, buttermilk solids, skim milk solids, “calcium caseinate,” “sodium caseinate,” all milk-derived cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, chocolate, etc. …”
Development of IgE Antibodies When Challenged With Milk and Cheese:
In the following case study a patient whose rheumatoid arthritis had failed to respond to most of the conventional treatments, obtained considerable improvement in her symptoms when dairy produce was removed from the diet. Milk and cheese prompted the development of IgE antibodies, extract below.
“…challenge with milk and cheese resulted in a pronounced increase in synovitis and changes in immune complexes, IgE antibodies, and heat-damaged red cell clearance rates. Exclusion of dairy produce from the diet produced a considerable improvement in her previously aggressive disease. …”
This interesting case study can be viewed here: Rheumatoid arthritis and food: a case study.
The Role of Milk Proteins and Peptides in Autoimmune Diseases
Genes may play a role in people’s susceptibility to chronic diseases but whether those genes are expressed can depend to a very large extent on a person’s diet and lifestyle along with other environmental factors. I’ll provide a link below to an excellent paper which discusses many of these environmental factors in relation to causing or triggering autoimmune diseases. I’ll also provide an extract highlighting the specific role of milk proteins and peptides in this regard. For me, food has by far the greatest impact on health and the cause and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and most other chronic diseases. This excellent paper discusses milk, wheat and many other environmental triggers such as infections, chemicals and drugs etc. It’s well worth a read :-)
The paper can be found here: A Potential Link between Environmental Triggers and Autoimmunity. There’s an important section about halfway down the paper titled: “The Role of Milk and Wheat Components in Autoimmune Diseases” discussing how cross-reactivity with certain milk proteins can lead to the development of autoimmunity. The following extract provides a quick summary.
“In relation to dietary proteins it has been well established that different proteins and peptides in milk and wheat are involved in autoimmune diseases [90–93]. Milk contains more than 400 different proteins, most of which have over 150 amino acids (AA). AA that mimic collagen may induce RA, while those that mimic neural cell antigens may induce multiple sclerosis or other neuroimmune disorders.”
Dairy Products – Disease-Promoting and Life-Shortening
For me there is overwhelming evidence (supported by epidemiological studies, clinical experiences, interventional studies and reliable anecdotal evidence etc.) demonstrating that milk and milk derived products are detrimental to health and are particularly pathogenic in the development of autoimmune and other chronic diseases. This has been known for perhaps a hundred years yet people continue to suffer from the disastrous effects of ingesting milk and milk products (especially cheese and butter). As a lifetime sufferer from rheumatoid arthritis I find it heartbreaking that milk products are still used and promoted in schools and hospitals, and are still recommended by the majority of doctors and other medical professionals.
Cow’s Milk and Autism
Milk and milk derived products (especially cheese) contain both casomorphins and actual morphine! If you research the link between milk and autism you can find thousands of anecdotal reports but there are also a fair amount of scientific studies indicating and sometimes demonstrating a link between the two.
Here is a video by Dr Michael Greger MD discussing the link between autism and cow’s milk: Autism & Casein from Cow’s Milk. Extract regarding morphine below.
“There are “[t]wo types of opioids [that] have been found in milk.” One is the “casomorphins in view of their morphine-like activity and their origin.” They are breakdown products, fragments of the milk protein casein. What’s the other one? The other opioid is the actual opiate: morphine. There appears to be actual morphine in milk.”
Cow’s Milk and Prostate Cancer
There’s a lot of research indicating a link between cow’s milk and prostate cancer and the research has been evolving over time. The causal factors that have been investigated include bovine estrogens, IGF-I, vitamin D depletion caused by excessive ingestion of dairy calcium, the high fat and cholesterol content, the sodium content, and a lack of fibre (in relation to its impact on the gut micro-biome i.e. our immune system). The strong hormonal link is investigated in this video by Dr Michael Greger: Prostate Cancer & Organic Milk vs. Almond Milk. A more thorough discussion of the potential link between dairy and prostate cancer can be found in this well researched article by Dr Neal Barnard: Milk Consumption and Prostate Cancer. The clearest and most convincing demonstration of the link between dairy and prostate cancer is given in this video by Dr Michael Klaper (it starts at: 12: 26): Dairy Products Strongly Linked to Prostate Cancer.
Dairy Products Linked to Premature Puberty, Man Boobs and Multiple Cancers
Multiple hormones in cow’s milk (especially estrogen) are believed to cause premature puberty, the development of man boobs, and the growth of breast, ovarian, prostate and other cancers. Here again in the following video, Dr Michael Klaper offers a very convincing summary based on his own 40+ years of medical practice and research: Does Dairy Really Cause Cancer?
The World Health Organisation has classified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen and one of the reasons for that classification is that processed meats increase IGF-I levels in humans. The fact that milk and milk products also increase the level of IGF-I in humans suggests to me that dairy should also be classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, and I’m not alone in this thought; this issue is explained extremely well by the following researcher (Mic the vegan) in this video complete with references: WHO…Dairy Causes Cancer Too. Dairy’s general cancer promoting effect is discussed in the following article by Dr John McDougall particularly in the section titled: “The Dairy Connection” about a third of the way through the article: Saving Yourself from Cancer.
Cow’s Milk Can Cause Chronic Constipation and Allergic Skin Diseases in Childhood
There’s no doubt in my mind that dairy milk and milk derived products are the main cause of acne in teenagers (although trans-fats, saturated fats and high fructose corn syrup are probably major contributors), however milk can also cause serious allergic skin diseases in babies and young children. I’ve always believed that dairy is a major cause of constipation and its associated issues throughout a person’s life, however here is a very concerning explanation of how cow’s milk can cause serious and chronic constipation in very young children. The information is presented by Dr Michael Greger MD: Childhood Constipation & Cow’s Milk.
Dairy – Poor Nutrient Profile and High in Toxins and Pathogens
Cow’s milk naturally contains a range of disease promoting (and possibly causing) bovine hormones including estrogen. It also contains; artificially added hormones, pus (putrid white blood cells), bacterial fragments, faeces, environmental toxins, cholesterol, blood, saturated fat and trans-fats and many more delicious ingredients :-) milk is hardly as pure as advertised! Dr Michael Greger MD demonstrates this much better than I can in the following video: The Disturbing Truth About Dairy! Also, to help to understand just how, many of these undesirable components enter the milk, you may want to watch the following video by Erin Janus but only if you have a strong stomach as the video is quite graphic: Dairy Is Scary! The industry explained in 5 minutes. Although the motivation behind the video is primarily an ethical one (which I fully support) it does provide a valuable insight into the production of the white baby calf growth fluid and the source of its stomach churning (no pun intended) contents.
In my opinion the lies and misinformation constantly disseminated by the dairy industry and its supporters, concerning the valuable nutrient profile and ‘health benefits’ of cow’s milk and its derivatives, is dangerous and life threatening (consider the link between dairy consumption and ovarian cancer). The most common of these lies is in relation to the calcium content of milk and how essential it is for bone health. In fact it appears based on research that milk contributes to osteoporosis, and in epidemiological studies countries that consume the most milk have the highest fracture rates. As far as I can remember the absorption rate of calcium from milk is around 30% however the absorption rate from broccoli is around 60% :-) many other dark leafy greens have similarly higher absorption rates of calcium compared to milk.
There are hundreds of excellent plant-based sources of calcium and other essential minerals. One of the most nutritionally qualified experts in the world in this regard is Brenda Davis, RD. In the following article she discusses the benefits of obtaining calcium from plant-based sources and also the relative absorption rates compared to dairy, it’s also a very interesting article in terms of general health: Calcium Rich Foods. For a quick summary of some of the more unsavoury ingredients in cow’s milk along with a brief description of its nutrient profile, the following short article is worth a read: What’s in milk?
Reports and Articles Linking Dairy to Arthritis and Other Chronic Diseases
There’s a lot more science linking dairy to rheumatoid arthritis and many other chronic diseases, however, real stories from people who’ve experienced problems with dairy may be more effective at demonstrating the benefits of removing dairy from the diet.
First of all I’d like to include a recent (February 2018) news item from the IrishCentral website. The statistics in the news article come from Ireland’s National Dairy Council which states that: “…41% of Irish women and 30% of Irish men are now avoiding or limiting their dairy consumption.” The article can be found here: 41% of Irish women are avoiding cow’s milk. It appears that millennials in Ireland are health-conscious and wary of the detrimental and disease promoting effects of dairy, and are turning to healthier plant-based alternatives :-)
The following post contains reports from a few people including doctors who’ve obtained amazing benefits by removing dairy from the diet in terms of improving rheumatoid arthritis: The Cure For Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The next story I want to mention is written by a cardiologist Dr Monika Aggarwal, MD, FACC who cured her rheumatoid arthritis by removing dairy from her diet and adopting a plant-based lifestyle: How My Rheumatoid Arthritis (and A Plant-Based Diet) Made Me A Better Cardiologist.
Here is another inspiring story written by athlete Jon Hinds, although brief it does demonstrate yet again the improvement (and often cure) in RA that can be gained in many cases by the removal of dairy (and meat products) from the diet: How I Overcame Crippling Arthritis and Returned To Elite-Level Fitness.
In the following article by Alisa Fleming she discusses her experience of the link between dairy and chronic fatigue, bloating, joint pain and inflammation etc. It’s a very interesting article and well worth a read but it’s also worth reading people’s comments at the end of the article: Dairy-Free = Pain-Free (for me).
The next article is a combined testimonial from both doctor and patient; Dr John McDougall MD and Juliea Baker. It’s of particular importance because it discusses the detrimental effects of dairy on children including three cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis cured by removing cow’s milk. The article can be found here: McDougall Diet Cures 18 Year-old’s Rheumatoid Arthritis and I’ve provided a couple of extracts below.
“In some cases, like with Juliea, milk-induced autoimmune diseases damage their kidneys and joints .
They can become crippled, hospitalized, and sometimes they die because experts teach us that cow’s milk and other animal foods are good for us.”
“There are also three reports of JRA cured by stopping cow’s milk in the published scientific literature. One report was of a 14-year-old girl who had been so sick with JRA that she was hospitalized nine times over the previous six years. Her diet had been primarily based on dairy products…”
I cured my own long-standing asthma 100% by removing dairy and adopting a whole food plant-based diet, however, my symptoms had improved dramatically much earlier on when I’d reduced my dairy intake and adopted a largely plant-based vegetarian diet. The following author; Sid Garza-Hillman, also cured his asthma by removing dairy products from his diet and moving to a whole food plant-based lifestyle. He’s been asthma free since 1992. Here is his story: How Ditching Dairy Cured My Asthma.
The following testimonial by Jenny Sugar demonstrates many of the benefits that can be obtained by removing dairy from the diet, including weight reduction and an increase in energy: 6 Things That Happened When I Gave Up Dairy.
Here is a very compelling video testimonial reporting dairy as a cause of cystic acne. This is a condition that the majority of doctors around the world say has no link to a person’s diet :-) yet I’ve personally read dozens of scientific investigations and reports confirming the link between dairy and acne. There are some very interesting comments below the video which are well worth a read: My Cure to Cystic Acne and The Dangers of Dairy.
Finally I’d like to include the following amateur video testimonial, the quality isn’t great but it’s such a genuine and courageous testimonial that I couldn’t leave it out. The chap had severe psoriasis/eczema and by eliminating dairy he brought it under control, demonstrated huge improvements, and is well on the way to a complete recovery: Psoriasis Eczema Video Stop Eating Dairy.
Okay, I could go on adding testimonials and reports about the detrimental and destructive effects of dairy ad infinitum but I would instead encourage you to do your own searches relating to your own particular chronic disease and I’m sure you’ll find many papers, reports and testimonials linking it to cow’s milk and other dairy products.
Dairy is so deeply embedded in our cultures and lifestyles that it has become invisible to criticism and blame; it’s the emperor’s new clothes, the elephant in the room, the devil in the detail, but that’s changing and awareness of its devastating effects on health is increasing.
I’m acutely aware that there are tens of (possibly hundreds of) millions of people in the world; mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and their friends, neighbours and colleagues that are suffering from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and the list goes on; yet they are largely unaware of the role that milk and milk products has played in their suffering. It’s hard to imagine the pain felt by these people and the intense suffering of those close to them – I wonder if government officials, dairy lobbyists and dairy industry leaders have any concept of the part that they play in this worldwide suffering in return for profits. The same applies to the producers and marketers of junk foods, alcohol, cigarettes, processed meats and other disease-causing animal products, processed oils and fats, ineffective and often dangerous supplements, and hundreds of other health depleting so-called ‘foods’.
In summary, I can find no genuine benefits from consuming dairy, only misinformation and hype. On the other hand there is an almost unlimited amount of scientific reports and trials, clinical experience and genuine personal testimonials demonstrating the harm that milk and milk products can cause, particularly in relation to rheumatoid arthritis. I’m also certain that dairy played a huge role in the development of my own rheumatoid arthritis and the damage to my gut and immune system. If you have rheumatoid arthritis or any other chronic disease I would urge you to try eliminating dairy from your diet for a trial period, perhaps one month, and see if your symptoms improve.
“Milk and Splash” combined images are public domain