Got milk? Got rBGH?

Pink, pink, pink! Pink everywhere. I was watching NFL football yesterday and most (if not all the players) were wearing some kind of pink article of clothing. Bandanas, sneakers, armbands, wristbands, and ribbons all worn in support of breast cancer awareness. Apparently the money from purchasing these products goes to breast cancer research, which sounds wonderful if it were true. It seems to me that October’s pink proliferation is more about marketing than women’s health. From perfumes (Promise me) that contain harmful chemicals to soup cans laced with BPA (bisphenol A-which has been associated with increasing the risk of breast cancer). National pink campaigns focus too much on buying stuff instead of examining the possible causes of breast cancer —including the food you eat and drink (milk being one of them).

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. About 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer throughout their lifetime. Reducing the risk of breast cancer requires understanding and eliminating its causes, and prevention through education. Breast Cancer Action, an organization dedicated to promoting the truth in the breast cancer epidemic launched a project known as think before you pink and a campaign called Milking Cancer.

The Milking Cancer Campaign is focused on getting Eli Lilly (a pharmaceutical company) to stop making and marketing rBGH. For those of you who do not know, rBGH is a synthetic, genetically engineered growth hormone that is injected in cows to boost their milk production.  rBGH is the largest selling dairy animal drug in America. It was developed by Monsanto and marketed as “Posilac.”  It has been linked to breast cancer and other health problems such as prostate, colon, and other cancers. The use of rBGH also increases the need for antibiotics in cows, which can lead to increased antibiotic resistance in humans. rBGH has been used, without labeling, in the United States since its approval in 1993, making it difficult for consumers to make informed purchases.  The US is the only developed nation to permit humans to drink milk from cows given artificial growth hormone. Posilac was banned from use in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all European Union countries (currently numbering 27), by 2000 or earlier.

IGF-1(Insulin-like Growth Factor) in rBGH is common in non-organic milk and increases your risk for breast cancer by promoting conversion of normal breast tissue cells into cancerous ones. Non-organic dairy farms frequently have rBGH-injected cows that suffer at least 16 different adverse health conditions, including very high rates of mastitis that contaminate milk with pus and antibiotics. Read more about milk and breast cancer here.

Are you drinking rBGH milk? Are your kids? You very well may be drinking rBGH milk, or eating rBGH cheese or yogurt, as no labeling is required. This is despite the fact that surveys show that more than 80 percent of Americans want it labeled.

Want to avoid rBGH? Buy organic.

Moo and thank you.   dr. lisa.