Osteoporosis: Many renowned researchers doubt the dairy industry's and the US government's high calcium recommendations. They are saying that keeping strong bones depends more on preventing calcium loss than on increasing calcium intake. Maybe we get too much calcium and too much protein. Could too much milk actually cause osteoporosis?
Calcium and Osteoporosis
Got milk and...
By Rob McLean
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine writes, "It is a common myth that people should increase their calcium intake. Mostly, they are encouraged to take supplements and to drink more milk. But milk may not 'do a body good.' The highest rates of osteoporosis are in the industrialized Western nations~the biggest consumers of milk."
Take African Bantu women for example. They average only 350 mg calcium per day. They also average the birth of nine children each whom they breast feed for two years. Yet they never suffer from calcium deficiency. Osteoporosis is almost nonexistent, even in women over 65 years of age.
That's what the dairy industry and public health officials would have us believe. Yet a growing number of researchers are doubting the recommendation that Americans should drink the quart of milk a day, or its equivalent, endorsed by public health officials.
Dairy ads are rampant in the United States. We've all seen advertisements such
as "Milk, it does a body good."
Why don't many Americans know about this relationship between calcium, protein, and bone loss? What is the secret about osteoporosis?
|Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at
Cornell University, opines, "Our national nutrition policies are corrupted by
the influence of the dairy industry."
The Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine writes, "It is a common myth that people should increase their
calcium intake. Mostly, they are encouraged to take supplements and to drink more milk.
But milk may not 'do a body good.' The highest rates of osteoporosis are in the
industrialized Western nations~the biggest consumers of milk."
|Emily Yoffe writing for the August 3rd, 1999 edition
of Slate, joshed "Just two years ago the National Academy of Sciences increased
its daily recommendation for calcium by 50 percent for older Americans. Another upward
revision and we will all have to be attached to udders with an IV."
On a more serious note Yoffe continued, "Strange, then, that most of the world's people, who rarely if ever drink milk and who get just a small percentage of the calcium we are told is vital, have not devolved into boneless heaps of protoplasm. Even stranger, in many of these dairy-avoiding countries, people get through life with far fewer of the age-related hip fractures that plague Americans. This paradox has led a small number of researchers to become dairy doubters, questioning the wisdom of the calcium recommendations of the public health establishment."
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and many renowned researchers such as Dean Ornish, T. Colin Campbell, and Mark Hegsted doubt these calcium recommendations. They are saying that keeping strong bones depends more on preventing calcium loss than on increasing calcium intake.
Dr. Campbell is one of those doubters. In his study of 6,500 rural Chinese, Campbell found that most Chinese consume no dairy products, obtaining their calcium from vegetables. Strangely enough, from the Western point of view, osteoporosis is uncommon in China even though the people there consume only half the amount of calcium Americans consume.
Research into world dietary patterns show that places where people devour large amounts of calcium (United States and northern Europe) are also countries where people devour large amounts of animal protein. These areas of the world also endure the world's highest rate of fractures from osteoporosis, the disease characterized by weak, porous bones.
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