A top question from readers and in my office is about dairy and cancer. Does dairy cause cancer? Can I still eat dairy or drink milk when I’ve been diagnosed with cancer? And what about cheese and cancer or yogurt and cancer?
If you’ve been confused about dairy and cancer, I’m here to reassure you. It’s not as complicated as you might think!
When it comes to cancer research. It’s really clear that there are only a few things that have been shown, again and again, study after study, to cause an increased risk of cancer risk, and in some cases an increased risk of cancer coming back or dying from cancer.
The things that increase these risk factors are (and I promise, this ultimately answers your question about milk and cancer):
- High blood sugar levels
- High Levels of Saturated Fat in the Diet
- Eating Processed Meats
Dairy might also be linked to:
- Food Sensitivities
- Insulin resistance
Dairy and Proteins
One of the things that’s been looked at in research of dairy and cancer is the protein Casein. In both mouse and cell culture staude, the protein casein, has been shown to increase tumor growth.
Casein has also been reviewed in long term population studies. It’s been shown in population studies, that when casein intake is low, cancer incidence is also low. And when casein intake is high, cancer incidence was also high. This is highlighted in depth in the book “The China Study” written by T. Colin Campbell.
The problem with these longitudinal studies is that the casein intake was low in times of famine and in times of more fasting. So the question becomes…was cancer risk lower because of fasting and famine? Which then puts cell replication at a lower rate? Or was the cancer rate lower strictly because of the casein protein being low in the diet, and reduced dairy intake?
In population studies, it’s often challenging to make clear decisions on what the ONE contributing factor would be to cancer risk.
Hormones, Dairy, and Cancer
Another risk factor in terms of cancer growth that happens with drinking dairy, if hormone changes and exposure. In modern farming, dairy is made, utilizing the reverse bovine growth hormone. By injecting cows with growth hormone, you can increase the amount of milk an individual cow can make. This reverse bovine growth hormone (rBGH) has been directly linked to increasing insulin like growth factor (IGF). Insulin-like growth factor has been linked to increase tumor growth.
So does that mean dairy causes cancer? Does that mean dairy is the main culprit of tumor growth? And what does that mean for dairy in your diet?
What I walk away from the cancer research with is a couple of main points.
1.Avoid Reverse Bovine Growth Hormone.
You want to make sure that if you are drinking dairy, that it is free of reverse bovine growth hormone, and that the cows have not been treated with reverse bovine growth hormone. This will be reducing your risk of spiking IGF. And that is one of many factors that could potentially create cancer growth.
2.Avoid Saturated Fat
You want to keep your diet, low in saturated fat. Now that doesn’t mean a low fat diet. That means a low saturated fat diet. And one of our main culprits of saturated fats in an Americanized modern diet is cheese. But, many other diary products are high in saturated fats too. Check your labels, and make sure you are getting less than 30% of your daily calories from saturated fat.
3.Reduce Casein in Your Diet
Things like goat milk and sheep’s milk are lower in casein protein. So, this can be a good alternative to cow’s milk if you aren’t ready to give up animal based dairy products.
So, leaning more towards goat, and sheep. And one of my favorite protein powders has goat sheep and cows protein in it. Also, camel’s milk could be a good alternative. Even though camel milk still has casein, it’s a different type of casein than cow’s milk and tends to be less inflammatory than cow’s milk.
Casein is low in dairy products that are low in protein. So, butter and heavy cream are naturally low in casein. But please, refer back to tip #2…keep your diet low in saturated fats.
Dairy Free Alternatives
If you’re still concerned about dairy and cancer, you can always lean towards dairy free alternatives. When you are looking at dairy free alternatives, you want to make sure that they are low in additives and that they are truly a healthier alternative to what you’re currently eating. Some dairy free alternatives can include cashew milk, coconut milk, oat milk, and almond milk.
There’s a lot of cashew and coconut products on the market that are delicious! Some cashew ice cream, cashew based yogurts coconut milk based yogurts may be something you want to be on the lookout for while grocery shopping. Keep your eyes peeled for the sugar content though! These alternatives can be high in sugar, binders and thickeners that help make these products. feel and taste more like milk. Read your labels and stay on the path of the cancer proof diet roadmap path.
What would it mean for you to stop being afraid of food and start loving your plate again?
After hearing so many people confused by diet, I wanted to help you get out of fear + confusion, and back to loving food. That why I created this super easy to understand, easy, one-page road map. You can download it by clicking the “download now” button below.