February 4, 2022

We have been told since the beginning of time about all the health benefits of milk and related products, especially how they are good for your bones. But let us break the bubble because there is a whole different side to this story. The dairy products you have been consuming all this time have negative effects as much as positive ones.

Here are 13 negatives of consuming milk and all the other dairy products.

1. Milk protein and diabetes

Beta casein A1, a protein present in milk, is directly linked to causing Type 1 Diabetes. Research reveals that the risk develops due to exposure to milk early in life 2.

2. Toxins and Contaminants

Certain compounds may find their way into milk indirectly through dairy animals as residues of pesticides (DDT, lindane, dieldrin, etc.) on feeds/fodder. Several of these compounds get stored in the milk fat and are secreted with it. Contaminants may also enter milk directly as a consequence of hygienic or industrial practices (e.g., detergents and sanitisers/disinfectants), or as adulterants as in the case of melamine (often found in plastics and food contact materials and can harm the kidneys and urinary tract) 3.

It is very common for milk to contain residues of pharmacologically active substances (PAS), which have undesirable effects on the quality and technological properties of dairy products and also, more importantly, on your health. Apart from the ones mentioned above, hormones like estrogen are injected into the animals to increase the yield. While some amount of estrogen is also present in the cow’s body which can lead to its further passage into the human body. Externally elevated estrogen administration is known to have negative impacts on human reproductive health and is linked to causing cancers. 

3. Dairy and Insulin resistance

Insulin is the only hormone in our bodies that helps in lowering blood sugar levels. The casein present in all the dairy products poses a threat to Insulin resistance, meaning our bodies resist insulin, thus leading to high blood sugar levels. 

4. Cancer

Consumption of dairy products has been linked with a lot of different cancers. Studies have found positive cases of prostate cancer and colorectal cancer in men consuming milk daily. 

A large study done on women found that those who consumed the highest amounts of cheddar cream cheeses had a higher risk for breast cancer 6. Dairy intake can also lead to the development of ovarian cancer. The reason is believed to be the conversion of milk sugar (lactose) to galactose, a sugar that may be toxic for the ovarian cells 7.

5. Addictive substances

 Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, designed to measure a person’s dependence on substances, scientists found that cheese is particularly potent because it contains casomorphins (Casein derived Morphine-like substance)- the substance, which is present in all dairy products, can trigger the brain’s opioid receptors which are linked to addiction. 

It has also been found that Casomorphins can destroy pancreatic beta cells, cells that are responsible for making Insulin. This destruction can lead to Type-1 Diabetes. Also, they have the potential to kill your body’s immune cells, subsequently causing autoimmune disorders 8.

6. Lactose Intolerance

In a recent article published in The Times, 60% of the Indian population was found to be lactose intolerant without even realizing the same. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest milk sugar called lactose. Nursing children make enzymes that break down lactose, but as we grow up, many of us lose this capacity. As a result, lactose is not absorbed but remains in the intestine where it causes symptoms which include upset stomach, diarrhoea and gas.

7. Allergies 

Cow’s milk is among the first foods introduced into an infant and accordingly is one of the first and most common causes of food allergy in early childhood. Various respiratory (wheezing, coughing, asthma) and gastrointestinal (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea) discomforts and rashes on the skin are some of the symptoms that have been observed 9.

Contaminated milk can cause allergic reactions or indirect problems through bacterial resistance to clinical treatments. Cow’s milk contains 30 different proteins, of which Casein constitutes 80% share. The allergic reactions upon milk consumption are thought to be because of this milk protein, termed as cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) 10.

 8. Effects on infant and child health

Cow Milk (CM) allergy impacts infant and child health. Besides, Colic is an additional concern with milk consumption probably due to either Casein allergy or Lactose intolerance. Colic is a process in which an infant has inconsolable outbursts of crying for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week and for longer than three weeks. Possible treatment options include restriction of any form of milk or dairy product consumption by the breastfeeding mother as the allergens can be passed on from breast milk to the baby and further aggravate the problem.

9. Not-at-all-healthy-bones

To assume that weak and brittle bones are due to calcium deficiency is like assuming that infection is due to penicillin deficiency. These impotent bones are not due to calcium deficiency but rather due to the excretion of too much of what you already have. This breakdown of calcium is due to the overconsumption of proteins. Dairy products, as we all know, contain good amounts of proteins and excess protein tends to leach out calcium, to buffer the renal acid load caused by proteins 11.

Also, it has been found in an ample number of studies that milk compounds like beta-casein and D-galactose can negatively impact bone health due to their capability of causing inflammation 12. Also in another study, it was concluded that several other nutrients such as Vitamin D, Vitamin, K along with Calcium play an important role in the cascade of strengthening the bones.

10. Dairy and skin problems

Dairy products, especially milk allergy, can manifest as Eczema along with other symptoms. Psoriasis is a condition in which there are dry, itchy, scaly patches on the skin and is thought to be caused by immune system problems and infections. Dairy products can be triggers for such skin problems because of their capability in causing inflammation and infections.

11. Dairy products and infections

Developing countries like India face greater challenges as a result of incorrect processing or storage of dairy products. Being rich in protein, dairy products represent a transmission hazard for a large number of pathogens and can be responsible for outbreaks of infections like brucellosis, listeriosis, tuberculosis, etc 14.

12. Harmful for Adults

Besides humans, no other organism drinks milk beyond it's natural age of weaning or drinks the milk of another species. Any type of milk whether it is A1 or A2, pure and farm-fresh or organic, does not suit the nutritional needs of humans, so it’s no wonder that consuming it and its derivatives causes us so many problems.


Manali Chindarkar
Research Associate

Manali has a Master's in Nutrition and Dietetics with a specialisation in Nutrigenomics. She's into all things tracking. Her determination to solve problems makes her an approachable nutritionist and an integral part of iTHRIVE's research team.

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