Joseph Keon, PhD, has been a wellness consultant and nutrition and fitness expert for over twenty-five years. He is considered a leading authority on public health and has written three books, Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health, Whole Health: The Guide to Wellness of Body and Mind and The Truth About Breast Cancer: A Seven-Step Prevention Plan.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass, and this is It’s All About Food. Thank you for joining me today! Of all the shows I’ve ever done, I think this is probably the most important topic, the one we are going to talk about today. It’s something that means a lot to me.
We have a guest who has come out with a new book, and the book is called, Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth about Cow’s Milk and Your Health. Let me just tell you a little bit about the author, Joseph Keon. He’s a wellness consultant for more than 25 years, he holds a doctorate degree in nutrition, fitness expert certifications by both the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas and the American Council on Exercise. He’s been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers internationally, and has also appeared on local and national news broadcasts, including CBS evening news with Dan Rather and ABC news. He works closely with several environmental and public health organizations, and is the author of three other books: Whole Health: The Guide to Wellness of Body and Mind, The Truth About Breast Cancer: A Seven Step Prevention Plan, and the forthcoming Questions That Matter. Dr. Keon, thanks for joining us today.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Hi Caryn, thanks for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: I read your book, and I’m almost speechless. There’s just so many horrible things to say about cow’s milk, and we only have an hour to talk about it, and some of what is in your book is so heartbreaking.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: I know myself, I know many others for decades have been trying to share the information about cow’s milk, and I’m glad this book has come out. I’d really like to see it in all high school classrooms, I’d like to see it in all medical schools, it’s really so, so important. There are a lot of bad things going on in the world, but this is one of the top on my list. So, let’s just jump into this. Why did you decide to write this book?
Dr. Joseph Keon: Well, I wrote this because I wanted to solve what I call the calcium paradox. When I was writing the Truth About Breast Cancer, I was coming across research at the time, and becoming more and more aware of the fact that we had this really serious problem of bone disease and osteoporosis in this country. Yet, I was also discovering that we were one of the top consumers of dairy products and calcium worldwide, and I thought, how could this be? There’s got to be something else to this equation, and wanted to dip into it. As I learned more about it, the underlying theme really became, informed consent. That consumers, all of us, make choices every day, several times a day, about the foods we eat, but many of those choices are based upon a rich mythology that has been passed down over the years. Dairy foods, and the idea that they are healthy and they are essential for human health is perhaps the most serious, and oldest, nutritional myth that we have to address.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s really frightening because I know many, many educated upper-middle class women that are conscientiously eating their low-fat yogurt, and doing what they think is good for healthy breasts, to prevent breast cancer, and for strong bones, and what they are really doing is the opposite.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Yeah, all of us have been indoctrinated in a very successful advertising campaign that’s been going on more than 70 years in this country, and really few of us have escaped it. From a very young age we have been hearing the message that cow’s milk is important, not only important but essential to our health, and we’ve grown up with that. The advertisements, the print ads, the commercials, and of course all of the sources that many of us turn to, whether they be our athletic coaches or personal trainers or dieticians, physicians and pediatricians, have been indoctrinated in the same kind of thinking, so, well-intended as they may be, they are perpetuating that mythology.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s talk about some of the specifics, the things that cow’s milk can do to the human who consumes it. The chapter that got me the most was the one about children’s health, so if we could start there, I’d really like to do that.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Sure. The thing that I think is really striking when you look at the scientific studies, the whole body of literature around children’s health, and the consumption of cow’s milk and other dairy products, is that it is not shown to be successful in building bones or staving off osteoporosis bone fracture later in life. One of the more important recent studies was a pediatric study that was a meta-analysis. They looked at 58 previously published studies, and in a meta-analysis they are trying to see if they can distill elements or findings that didn’t come out in prior studies. They looked at clinical, longitudinal, retrospective, cross-sectional, many types of studies, and in the end they said, “The benefit that has been shown in here is so modest, we really don’t believe it’s something that has any significance in public health.” There was a follow up in the British Medical Journal—very similar, same kind of thing. Insignificant. When you think of all of the advertising, and all of the messaging we’ve been hearing for decade after decade of how important and how successful this is supposed to be for us in terms of building and maintaining bone health, these findings are quite startling. I think many of us just assume, because of the strident manner in which this message has been delivered over the years, that there must be this mountain of scientific evidence backing it up. But when you look closely at the research, it’s just stunning, because it’s not there. And it’s not just what’s done here in the United States in terms of research, we look around the world. You see a very consistent trend that the communities that consume the most dairy products happen to have the worst bones. They have the highest risk of bone fracture, and in the inverse it’s so as well. So the people who are consuming very little dairy or none at all are the ones who are most protected from bone fracture.
Caryn Hartglass: But where did the doctors get this information from?
Dr. Joseph Keon: They get it from their medical school education, which of course, when it comes to nutrition is very limited. It might be on average, 2½ or 3 hours of focused education around nutrition and its role in disease, and so, when they do get it, of course its information that’s just being passed down and repeated, it’s the same old myths. If a physician today, a pediatrician for instance, is going to deviate from that, they’re going to have to augment their education on their outside time, they’re going to have to really do the research, because they’re not going to be hearing this, they’re not going to be learning this in medical school. As they come out of medical school, of course they’re still as susceptible as they were before to the images and the advertisements that we all see. So, children, as you pointed out, this is a special area that we really have to look at because some of these exposures, whether it be to the contaminants, the environmental contaminants, or the IGF-1, the insulin-like growth factor, or some of the other abundant hormones that naturally occur in cow’s milk, could really be doing a grave disservice to the next generation because of early exposures in life.
Caryn Hartglass: Now this exposure can start when the child is in the womb?
Dr. Joseph Keon: Exactly. In utero. When you look at some of these contaminants, one that really, really I find to be particularly disturbing when it comes to children, and exposure in utero is perchlorate. Now this is commonly referred to as a rocket fuel, it’s an explosive propellant that’s used in booster rockets, it’s used in fireworks, and it’s used in the airbag restraint systems in cars. But it is also leaking, and has been for some years, into the Colorado River. Since that’s a primary source of irrigation water, it ends up in the farming irrigation system and it moves through the food chain, and eventually bio-accumulates in the dairy cow. When cattle make their milk, even humans, most mammals, if they make milk they mobilize fat stores to produce that milk. So, any kind of chemicals, any kind of contaminants that have been sequestered in the fat, where many of them go, because they are fat-friendly, or what we call lipophilic, are then released, and they’re expressed in the milk. So, a mother who doesn’t even know she’s pregnant, and is following her physician’s guidelines, and is consuming cheese and yogurt, and she’s making sure she’s drinking several glasses of milk a day, she very easily could be consuming perchlorate, because it is commonly found in milk pulled off supermarket shelves. She may, prior to her even knowing that she’s pregnant, cause changes, permanent changes, in her offspring. It’s because perchlorate interferes with the production and function of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is critical, in terms of it being maintained at just the right levels during critical gestation windows. One of those windows is, as I said, before most women would even know they are pregnant, and a surge in thyroid hormone, up or down, can create changes in the neurological development, essentially the brain development of the offspring. You may have learning disabilities, lowered IQ potential, but these are things that are not going to be able to be reversed at any time through the life of the child as they grow up. So, this is not something that’s being talked about, it’s not on the ingredient label on the carton of milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, “This may affect your unborn child.”
Dr. Joseph Keon: Precisely!
Caryn Hartglass: It’s not just perchlorate, but there are many, many toxins that are in our water supply and are in our air, dioxins and others, and they all concentrate in the food supply for the cattle, which concentrates in their milk, which people consume.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Right, and you mentioned a potent one, dioxin.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s one of my favorites.
Dr. Joseph Keon: I mean, being a potent carcinogen in itself, and it is second only to red meat. Dairy is the primary source by which Americans will be consuming dioxin in their diet.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, so that’s the baby in the womb. Then the baby is born, and the baby can still be affected by the dairy that the mother is consuming through her breast milk,
Dr. Joseph Keon: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: And this can lead to things like Type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Yes, exactly. We know that, well, there’s been a lot of attention devoted to this, we’re now talking about a hundred studies that have been published, and the relationship between early exposure to bovine proteins and the risk of Type 1 diabetes. It’s a very compelling subject, the research is very compelling. Is it definitive? No, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has formally acknowledged it, and essentially, in a nutshell, what we’re talking about is an autoimmune reaction, which is that the body’s immune system turns on itself. The theory is certain bovine proteins that are found in the milk are targeted, but there are cells, the islet cells that are insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, that resemble these proteins, and so they end up getting targeted as well. Over a period of time they can be destroyed, and the ability of the child to produce insulin is taken away for life. So you have a child that grows up either with insulin injections, or insulin pump therapy, which is something we would wish on no one.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, so, the Type 1 diabetes, I agree, we would wish it on no one, but at least there is a way for people with it to lead a somewhat normal life other than that they have to give themselves injection all the time, but then we move to autism. This is the part of the book that really was bringing me to tears, because the precious children that are growing up with their parents and going through all of the those simple joys as the baby ages, week-by-week, and starts learning things and saying sounds, and then all of a sudden starts to withdraw, and go to this unexplainable dark place and has all these fits and emotional issues, and it’s not necessary in most cases.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Yeah, there’s a lot of interesting research that suggests it may not be. The relationship between autism and milk is particularly interesting. I sat with a woman who wrote a wonderful book, Karyn Seroussi, Unraveling the Mystery of Autism, and that book is a documentation of how she reversed her child’s autism, and he’s a thriving teenage boy today. But just as you described, she talked about how suddenly, she says, “I lost my son. He no longer had eye contact with me, he no longer spoke to me, he would no longer engage with me.” Ultimately she found that withdrawing dairy was the answer, and eventually she also removed gluten from his diet, but the most powerful changes came about when she removed the dairy. He was infuriated by that, and it resulted in severe tantrums, and quite an interesting reaction to that elimination of the dairy, but that seemed to be the most important part of his recovery.
Caryn Hartglass: You talk about how there are addictive qualities in milk, and that’s part of the problem with withdrawing milk from children with autism, is because they want to consume a lot of it. It’s something that’s hurting them, but they’re addicted and they want more.
Dr. Joseph Keon: It’s really fascinating. The casein protein in cow’s milk is in some cases not properly broken down, and so when you have this partially digested protein, it results in smaller peptides, smaller chains of amino acids. In this state, some of these have opiate-like properties, so if someone has ever had the experience in a hospital setting of having morphine after a surgery, they know that it’s pain-numbing, and it also–
Caryn Hartglass: I hate it. I’ve had it, I hate it.
Dr. Joseph Keon: It’s very disturbing isn’t it?
Caryn Hartglass: You’re so disoriented.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Your whole sensory is altered on every level, and the prevailing theory here is, again, that something happens, there’s an original assault on the gut wall. It may be a virus, some have theorized that it may have something to do with some of the inoculations that are given to children, but, one thing is for certain: these proteins, these peptides are getting in. They’re crossing the gut wall, they’re getting into the bloodstream, they’re found there, and they have these opiate qualities. When you look at the ways that some children who are diagnosed with autism behave, you look at some of the patterning, it’s very similar to somebody who is having an experience like this, where they are affected, where their cell receptors on the brain are being affected by contact with these compounds. There’s been some research done with animals where they have actually been able to confirm that the receptor sites for opiates are taking up these peptides, and so there’s a strong belief that this is what’s happening with some of the children—not all, but maybe a subgroup of autistic children. The wonderful news is that if parents are willing to experiment with it, if they are willing to remove the dairy, and in some cases the gluten is required as well, there are wonderful, uplifting cases of children who are recovering, and parents who are really reclaiming their child that they thought they had lost forever.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, but you do have to do it early on.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Early on seems to be really critical, there seems to be a threshold beyond which intervention doesn’t have nearly as dramatic, or really no effect at all. You have to do it early on and you have to be vigilant. This is something Karen was telling me from her own experience of counseling a lot of parents who wanted to adopt the protocol, is that it takes some work. It takes typically changing everybody’s diet in the house, and really making a commitment. Some people find that challenging, but obviously well worthwhile.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. You go into quite a bit of detail about vaccines and how they affect the stomach and create almost this leaky gut system, and perhaps that’s linked or works with the dairy and causes all of these autism problems. I’m going to step out of the book a little and just ask you a question, I don’t know if you know the answer. Not too long ago, I forget who it was, but there seemed to be this study or research about vaccines, and the bottom line came out and said, “No, vaccines don’t cause autism.” They’ve done all these, a major review of the literature, and it was like, no, it doesn’t, sorry. I found it hard to believe, but I never read that report, but I didn’t like the result.
Dr. Joseph Keon: I think you may be referring to the CDC’s official position, where they looked at a number of studies and that was kind of the official position to respond to the claims that had been made against the vaccine fund. It’s a very interesting field to look at, because there are a lot of people, I’m sure you are aware, who are really targeting the mercury preservative, thimerosal, and that has, for the most part, been removed from the vaccine schedule. There are very few, some flu shots, I believe H1N1 still had a degree of mercury in it, but for the most part they have been voluntarily removing the preservative. So, it will be interesting over the next years to see what kind of changes, if any, occur. There are a lot of people who still maintain that there is some component of the way that these are prepared and delivered to the body that results in this negative response in some pre-disposed children, and I think that that position from the CDC was obviously not well received. There was something that was very interesting, something that followed that, and there was a case, I think this was, I think there’s an elaborate piece that can be found on Huffington Post, that documents the first time that the US Federal government has acknowledged vaccine- induced damage to a child, and is making an award to the parents of that child. I think this may have been a year ago that this case was heard, and it set a precedent, because this is really the first time.
Caryn Hartglass: Oops. The dominos are now going to start falling.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Yeah. Trying to weed out what exactly it is in these preparations that is having a negative effect is a challenge for sure, but one thing is for certain: There are parents all over the world whose stories are consistent across the board. They tell the same story about the reaction, about the screaming, the fits, the fevers, and then how their child changed dramatically afterwards. Whether they were diagnosed formally with autism or not, that there are things happening that we don’t understand after exposure to these products.
Caryn Hartglass: And milk does a lot of, not good to the body. Milk does not do a body good, and children, and teenagers, you talk a little bit about acne.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Yeah, I think that one of the things that perhaps may be contributing to a number of the problems we see in adolescents, teenagers, and then again surfacing in adulthood is that milk, you hear a lot of discussions about, or people will often say, “Oh, but I buy organic now, we only…”
Caryn Hartglass: Thanks for bringing that up.
Dr. Joseph Keon: And they’ll say, “And that’s hormone free,” and you should see the look on their face when I say, “Well, guess what? It’s not.” It’s always a shock for people to hear that there are almost 60 different hormones and growth factors in every glass of milk, no matter where you purchased it.
Caryn Hartglass: How does that baby calf grow to a large animal in a short amount of time?
Dr. Joseph Keon: Right!
Caryn Hartglass: Growth hormones, ladies and gentlemen!
Dr. Joseph Keon: It’s very, very powerful, and of course, we don’t need these hormones and growth factors. They were never intended for us, and then, later in life, when our body is naturally tapering back the production of certain hormones, whether it be estrogens or Insulin-like Growth Factor-1, which is at its peak during puberty, and then it starts to cut back, production is cut back. So if we’re consuming milk that has these growth factors, these hormones in it, we’re artificially increasing our own levels. One thing that also is unique about milk production in the United States is, a lot of cultures that use cow’s milk, they have a policy of not taking milk from the cows during pregnancy, and we have this policy of getting milk from the cows whenever we can.
Caryn Hartglass: And making her pregnant as often as possible.
Dr. Joseph Keon: As often as possible. What happens is, we end up getting milk from late-stage pregnant cows that has 33 times the amount of estrogen that it would have if we took it at the opposite end of the spectrum. We’re getting these elevated levels of estrogens, we’ve been breeding the dairy cows for many, many years, favoring those who produce the highest levels of IGF-1, why? Because they make more milk, so it’s more efficient to have a herd that is made up of high IGF-1 producing cows, but that ends up in the milk as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Dr. Keon, I’ve got a lot more questions, I want to talk about allergy, I want to talk about osteoporosis a bit more, I want to talk about all kinds of things, but we have to take a quick break, so stay with us and we’ll be right back.
Caryn Hartglass: Hi, I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’re listening to It’s All About Food, because it is all about food. I’m here with Joseph Keon, the author of Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth about Cows’ Milk and Your Health. Dr. Keon, thank you for being here, and we just have half a show left, and I know we’re not going to get to everything that is so vital in this book, but we are going to try and hit a lot of things. I do recommend people run out to their bookstore, or Amazon.com, or somewhere and pick up this book. It is so important, everything that’s in here. Can we talk about milk allergies versus lactose intolerance?
Dr. Joseph Keon: Sure, absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: That was something that I wasn’t really clear on.
Dr. Joseph Keon: It’s an important distinction to make because there’s some confusion there for a lot of people. Milk allergy really pertains to a reaction to the proteins. There are maybe some 30 different proteins in a glass of cow’s milk that one’s body could react to. The immune system detects it as foreign bodies that shouldn’t be circulating about, and sends out defense cells to attend to them, and as a consequence, you have reactions like inflammation, and swelling and edema, water accumulation in areas, any number of things. There are so many things that are being recognized over the last decades that can be attributed to allergy to various proteins in food. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is not an immune-regulated situation. What it is, is we typically, as we are weaned from the breast, we naturally start self-producing a digestive enzyme, lactase. Lactase breaks down the milk sugar, lactose. Without lactase, you have individuals who end up with real discomfort, bloating, gas indigestion, cramping. So, they are two different things. If somebody is told, say, by their physician, “You may be lactose intolerant, why don’t you try and reduce lactose product?” On the market there are a number of them, and they still have these symptoms, it’s probably because they are reacting to the proteins and it’s not the lactose.
Caryn Hartglass: So it’s important to know the difference, and sometimes the doctors don’t.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Many times the doctors don’t. There was a survey just a couple of weeks ago, where pediatricians were asked about their, how well they were informed about diagnosing allergy. They admitted they were poorly informed, and they didn’t think they had done so well. They asked if they thought their colleagues knew, and about 78% said they didn’t think their colleagues were well-equipped enough to effectively diagnose milk allergy.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s great, that’s your doctor ladies and gentlemen.
Dr. Joseph Keon: There are some, there are estimates from 7 to 15, depending on who you are consulting, percent of the population of the US that may be contending with some food allergy, and of course, one of the most common is allergy to milk.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. There are some really devastating things that are linked to milk—not proven, but we mentioned the Type 1 diabetes but also multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Joseph Keon: You see a very interesting, consistent rise in the risk of multiple sclerosis with cow’s milk consumption. In the populations where the most milk is being consumed, you see the highest incidence, and of course again, the inverse is so. As you say, this is not, the jury is still out on this, but the evidence that exists right now is disconcerting. Then, of course, you have breast and prostate cancer. I think the evidence on both breast and prostate cancer is very compelling. Over 20 studies now that directly show a relationship between milk consumption and prostate cancer in men. With breast cancer it’s not so clear in terms of milk consumption, but what they do note is that women who have the highest levels of IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor, have this elevated risk that could be anywhere from 3 to 5 times, or even 7 times in post-menopausal women, who have the highest IGF-1 levels compared to women with the lowest IGF-1 levels. How do we boost IGF-1? Well, we can boost IGF-1 levels by drinking a glass of milk. We can boost it by ten percent. Three glasses of milk in an adult, that’s in an adolescent, in an adult you can boost it by ten percent with three glasses of milk a day. We know that bovine growth hormone, the recombinant bovine growth hormone used in many dairy cattle boosts their IGF-1 even more, which ends up in the milk. So, IGF-1 has become a really hot topic. There’s a lot of focus on it because it’s a mitogenic compound, that means it encourages cell division, it’s anti-apoptopic , which means it prevents programmed cell death and the death of cells that are malignant, so it accelerates malignant cell growth, we don’t want that. This is the central theme in cancer, unregulated cell division. So, controlling IGF-1 levels is something we really want to do.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok so, milk we talked about. Strong connections to Type 1 diabetes, autism, breast and prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, a whole host—
Dr. Joseph Keon: Ovarian cancer.
Caryn Hartglass: Ovarian cancer, I had that. Just so many different ailments are linked to milk, and yet you mention bovine growth hormone. We have a surplus of milk, and yet we inject our cows with this growth hormone in order for them to make more milk. What’s going on?
Dr. Joseph Keon: It is the strangest thing, isn’t it? We have this, as you said, this surplus of milk, we have refrigerators that are industrial refrigerators that are filled with cheese and surplus dairy products.
Caryn Hartglass: And when we don’t sell the milk on the normal market, we shove it into the school system so the kids can have it!
Dr. Joseph Keon: Exactly. When the prices aren’t where the industry would like them, we slaughter off large numbers of these dairy herds, cut back in the population, cut back in milk production, but no matter what, this bovine growth hormone continues to be used. If one has ever had the opportunity to see the insert that comes with this product, for the dairy farmer who is going to apply it, or the veterinarian, it is one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. The list of symptoms and ailments and risks that are associated with its use in dairy cattle, it just goes on and on and on.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, not unlike the pharmaceutical drugs that we hear on commercials. It can do one good thing for you, and then you hear the list of 50 things that are the side effects.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Right, exactly. It’s a very strange thing that that was ever approved. There was something just two or three days ago, a representative from the dairy industry responded to somebody’s question about it online. It was a posting saying that bovine growth hormone helps the cow’s body do what it was supposed to do, better.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh yeah.
Dr. Joseph Keon: And I thought, “How is it that we think we can improve upon nature?”
Caryn Hartglass: But we know that’s not true. The cows have higher rates of infection, there’s more pus in the milk because of the bovine growth hormone.
Dr. Joseph Keon: So many of them develop mastitis infections of the udder that must be treated with antibiotics, so then you get more antibiotics in the milk, and of course we have this problem of antibiotic resistance that is just continuing to grow, and exposure to antibiotics through foods.
Caryn Hartglass: Some of their udders are just giant sized, if you ever see them, and it’s not an easy thing to see, because a lot of them are kept out of view from the public.
Dr. Joseph Keon: It can be obscene in some cases. Their ability to walk is restricted because of the size of the udder. It’s very disturbing.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s not going to feel very good to the cow, by the way.
Dr. Joseph Keon: I would imagine.
Caryn Hartglass: What about raw milk?
Dr. Joseph Keon: The raw milk movement is interesting. Of course, it’s constantly in the news it seems these days, these debates about which states will allow it to be sold and under what conditions, and the growing demand for the right to have access to raw milk. This is, to me, this falls back in the category of this debate between organic versus conventionally-produced dairy. Raw milk is still a product that’s species-specific, it was produced for the offspring of a cow. There are 5,400 different mammalian species on this planet, and every single one of them makes a milk that is nutritionally unique, and it meets the needs of that species. It wasn’t intended for another species, and so, whether it’s organic or conventional or raw, we’re still consuming the payload of proteins, foreign proteins, that weren’t intended for us. We’re still being exposed to nearly 60 hormones and growth factors, and we’re still going to be exposed to all these environmental toxins, pesticides, herbicides, dioxins, that are accumulating in animal flesh and ending up in either the milk or the flesh itself that one may eat. So, I come back and I ask the question, if we don’t need the milk of a cow, and clearly we don’t, if it doesn’t offer any benefit in terms of bone health, and the evidence is very clear that it does not guarantee us freedom from bone fracture, then I think we have to look at these risk factors, and say, Why are we exposing children to rocket fuel on their corn flakes? Why are we placing women at elevated risk for ovarian, and potentially breast cancer, and men for prostate cancer? Or MS? Or Crohn’s disease? There’s so many things that we could be elevating our risk for, and if there’s no benefit, then why are we doing that?
Caryn Hartglass: And those that might say, “But I like milk?” There’s so many wonderful products out on the market. There’s soy milk, and almond milk, and hemp milk, and wonderful frozen desserts made from coconut milk, and soy milk, and rice milk, and nut milks.
Dr. Joseph Keon: There’s so many, they’re just fabulous! I love to do these little taste tests, blind tasting, where people invariably believe they are consuming a conventionally-produced ice cream until I tell them, this is soy, or dairy, or made from cashews, I mean coconut milk. Really, they are really, really delicious. Back to something you just said, if people tell me they still love the taste and they just want to consume dairy, my response to them is: that’s ok, but now you’re informed. You have the information and you’re not under the false impression that this is essential, or it’s going to provide you with some special health benefit. So, if in the end, you choose to consume this, you’re doing so well-informed. And that’s the whole point of Whitewash.
Caryn Hartglass: So, when you’re sipping your milk or you’re chewing your cheese, and you say you can’t live without it, maybe you should think that if you’re a woman you might be harming your unborn child, giving them Type 1 diabetes or other problems. You might be increasing your risk significantly for breast cancer or prostate cancer, or ovarian cancer, arthritis. I had a friend who couldn’t run anymore, and I recommended he give up dairy, and now he’s jumping all over the place.
Dr. Joseph Keon: How fantastic!
Caryn Hartglass: His knees were very, very inflamed because of dairy products. It’s not going to be the same in every individual, but there’s just so much evidence about how bad cow’s milk is, and really nothing that says it’s a healthful product.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Right, and as you said, in some instances, one may not see the improvement that they are hoping for in terms of arthritis, but, boy, it’s an easy thing to try, isn’t it?
Caryn Hartglass: It doesn’t cost anything! How does the Dairy Council, how do the milk companies get away with the advertising that they have where they say, “Milk does a body good,” or “Milk builds strong bones,” all the things that they said?
Dr. Joseph Keon: They have for many, many decades gotten away with this, but in the last few decades there have been cases where various organizations have come forward and challenged these claims. They’ve enlisted the support of the Federal Trade Commission that monitors advertising claims of food products and such, so, the “Everybody Needs Milk” campaign we all remember, they had to modify that. The FTC required that that be changed, and evolved into, “Milk has something for everybody.”
Caryn Hartglass: Cancer, osteoporosis, bronchitis, sinusitis… something for everybody.
Dr. Joseph Keon: It really is. I was think about this this morning, I think that there are many people who work within dairy farming who believe that they’re doing a wonderful service by being in this business, by providing a product that they really believe is nutritious and wholesome and even essential for human health. I don’t believe that there’s a conspiracy of dairy farmers out there who see this as great way to get into business and make a whole lot of money, because many of them struggle. Their livelihood is highly unpredictable from one year to the next. But I think when it comes to the industry itself that represents the product, there is clearly an effort to falsely represent what options there are out there. You read some of these advertisements, and you would think that calcium exists in cow’s milk and that’s it!
Caryn Hartglass: And nowhere else.
Dr. Joseph Keon: And that all you have to do is drink it and there, poof! You’ve got strong bones. I put in Whitewash a table you may have seen, which just provides people with a window into the fact that there’s 70 different foods we can consume that are helpful sources of calcium and many other nutrients that our bones need. These are much wiser choices, because they’re free of so many other things we’ve been talking about today that can elevate our risk of illness.
Caryn Hartglass: Now when we go and get bone density tests, the numbers can be really frightening, where we’re diagnosed, especially small white women like myself, get diagnosed with osteopenia and osteoporosis. What is that? Are those real numbers? And are there things we should be doing about it if we’re not supposed to be drinking milk?
Dr. Joseph Keon: I don’t think that the current protocol for attempting to determine the risk of future fracture is really reliable. The standards by which the bone density, healthy or unhealthy bone density, is determined, is based upon a 30-year-old white woman.
Caryn Hartglass: Childbearing age.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Right. And so the standard deviations that are measured are suggesting that if you have lower than this ideal bone density, then you are at risk. We call low bone density osteopenia, and there are plenty of practitioners who would interpret that as a sign of osteoporosis on its way. And therefore, you should get on calcium supplements, and perhaps even one of these so-called bone building drugs. That’s the typical response to a lower than ideal. But what the scientific research really does show is these lower bone density readings are not accurate predictors of future bone fracture, they really aren’t. There are people who have lower bone density than the ideal all their life, and yet they do quite well. There are people who have greater bone density, and they suffer fractures, so it’s not something that we can say definitively, “This outcome predicts that.” I think in some cases it may unnecessarily get women in particular very upset, and nervous, and lead them to make choices that may not be the healthiest choices for them.
Caryn Hartglass: What about calcium supplements?
Dr. Joseph Keon: Really the calcium supplement research is the same way. You’ll find a study here and there that finds some improvement, some lowered risk, but when you look at the totality of the research, calcium supplements are not a guarantee of protection from bone fracture. The interesting thing is, again, you look around at the world population, the higher one’s intake of calcium is, the more likely that you’re going to see bone fracture down the road.
Caryn Hartglass: Can you repeat that?
Dr. Joseph Keon: The higher one’s intake of calcium, the more likely you’re going to see bone fracture somewhere down the road.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s so important, and nobody hears that. It is, it’s counterintuitive based on what we’ve grown up thinking, but it’s very interesting. For instance, the World Health Organization recommends a calcium intake of 500 milligrams a day to ward off bone disease, they think that’s sufficient. We know in this country—
Caryn Hartglass: Not in this country.
Dr. Joseph Keon: 1200 milligrams—
Caryn Hartglass: More is better!
Dr. Joseph Keon: Right, right. If 1200 is good insurance, I’ll take a couple calcium tablets as well. But interestingly enough, this calcium is not, in its excess, shown to create any real benefit long term. So, the things that we know that really are important are, it’s not that we’re failing to consume enough calcium, it’s that we’re failing to retain the calcium we consume. So perhaps the most important element in this relationship is the amount of protein that we consume. We covet protein in the US, and we consume protein-rich meals throughout the day, and as a consequence, we end up making our blood more acidic than it should be. Because our body wants to maintain a slightly alkaline state, and really needs to for survival, it buffers that acidity by pulling calcium out of the bones. Once that calcium has been utilized for that buffering purpose, it’s excreted, goes through the kidneys, and is excreted through the urine. And so, it’s lost. If we are in this chronic state of what we call acidosis, ongoing, day in, week in week out, year after year, we are essentially hemorrhaging calcium around the clock, and apparently that’s why it doesn’t make a difference when you consume 400, 600, 800, 1200, 2000 milligrams of calcium. If you’re always in a negative calcium balance, if you’re always losing the calcium you’re consuming, eventually your bones are not going to be able to hold up. So when people modify their protein intake, they don’t consume so much flesh food, they modify the amount of acid that’s being produced, their calcium needs are lower. That’s why, when we look around the world of protein intake, we see populations that consume less protein and consume more of their protein from plant sources, they really do have lower calcium needs.
Caryn Hartglass: And stronger bones!
Dr. Joseph Keon: And stronger bones. It’s not unusual to see women in their seventh, and even eighth decade, who are highly mobile, some of them still out doing physical labor in the yards or fields, and they don’t have milk mustaches, and they’re not on estrogen replacement therapy, and they haven’t seen the advertisements, and they’re doing quite well.
Caryn Hartglass: They have green mustaches.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Right! Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: The thing is, the body is really complicated, and it’s going to take many, many generations I’m sure, many lifetimes before we have a clue what’s really going on in the human body, it’s so complicated. But building bones, it doesn’t just take calcium! Bones are built of many different things, and we need a really balanced diet, lots of phytochemicals, and most of the nutrients are things that only come from plants. And we need vitamin D.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Precisely.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s a complicated mix, it’s not just calcium.
Dr. Joseph Keon: It really is, and I think again that advertising campaign has really done us a disservice because the preoccupation with calcium, again, has suggested to people that that’s all it takes, but it really doesn’t matter. You can deliver all the calcium you want to the bones, but in the absence of vitamin D and manganese and magnesium and B12, and many other micronutrients, you’re not going to be creating and maintaining bone integrity.
Caryn Hartglass: We need to bring Popeye the Sailor Man back and some of his friends that are—
Dr. Joseph Keon: Oh do we ever!
Caryn Hartglass: Eating spinach and other dark, leafy vegetables, and being cool about it, and showing how it makes you strong.
Dr. Joseph Keon: In addition to that, I was thinking we could bring back, or bring forward, some sort of figure, a gorilla figure, a cartoonish gorilla figure. I love to think about the gorillas that sit around, picking green leaves and eating these green leaves all day long. They’re enormously powerful creatures, and they have enormous bones, and we don’t find them riddled with osteoporosis. Of course, they’re not nursing off other gorillas or another species, and they do wonderfully well.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok so, we have a couple minutes, I just want to summarize. Whitewash, The Disturbing Truth about Cow’s Milk and Your Health by Joseph Keon. It’s a really great book, very informative, and there are so many things wrong with cow’s milk. If you like it, think about all the things that it’s doing to you, just in terms of weight loss. Milk has been touted as something to help weight loss, and we know that that’s not true either.
Dr. Joseph Keon: Not at all. A wonderful study, Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine looked at 12,000 kids in every state of this country, and they found without fail, the more milk they drank, the fatter they were. And even the low fat milk drinkers had a higher risk for weight gain, which suggests again, it’s probably the hormones and growth factors playing a role.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, well, there’s a lot we don’t know, but we do know that cow’s milk is not a healthy food. Thank you so much for writing this book, thank you for talking with me this hour. Dr. Joseph Keon, author of Whitewash, and anything you want to say in the last ten seconds?
Dr. Joseph Keon: Thank you very much Caryn, it was a real pleasure talking with you, and if anybody would like they can visit whitewashthebook.com, where they can read some blog entries and some shorter articles about some of the things we’ve talked about.
Caryn Hartglass: Great, whitewashthebook.com. Great. I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Have a delicious week!
Trascribed by Sarah Gumz, 1/29/2014