America’s Health Problem
Why is American Milk Banned in Europe?
* American dairy milk is genetically-modified unless it’s labeled “NO rBGH”
* Genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in milk increases cancer risks.
American dairy farmers inject rBGH to dairy cows to increase milk production.
European nations and Canada have banned rBGH to protect citizens from IGF-1 hazards.
Monsanto Co., the manufacturer of rBGH, has influenced U. S. product safety laws permitting the sale of unlabeled rBGH milk. (Monsanto would lose billions of dollars if rBGH were banned in America.)
Q. Is there any milk not contaminated with rBGH and IGF-1?
A. Yes. Milk that is clearly labeled “NO rBGH” is free of rBGH and does not contain excess levels of IGF-1.
Q. What about cheeses?
A. American-made cheeses are contaminated with rBGH and excess levels of IGF-1 unless they’re labeled “NO rBGH”. Imported European cheeses are safe since Europe has banned rBGH.
IGF-1 and Milk: Q&A
Q. What is IGF-1?
A. Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)is a normal growth factor. Excess levels have been increasingly linked by modern research to human cancer development and growth.
Q. How does IGF-1 get into milk?
A. In 1994, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). According to rBGH manufacturers, injections of rBGH causes cows to produce up to 20 percent more milk. The growth hormone also stimulates the liver to increase IGF-1 levels in the milk of those cows. Recently, Eli Lilly & Co., a manufacturer of rBGH, reported a ten-fold increase in IGF-1 levels in milk of cows receiving the hormone. IGF-1 is the same in humans and cows, and is not destroyed by pasteurization. In fact, the pasteurization process actually increases IGF-1 levels in milk.
Q. How does rBGH milk containing IGF-1, affect, humans?
A. After the rBGH milk is consumed, IGF-1 is not destroyed by human digestion. Instead, IGF-1 is readily absorbed across the intestinal wall. Additional research has shown that it can be absorbed into the bloodstream where it can effect other hormones.
Q. Is IGF-1 likely to increase the risk of specific kinds of cancer?
A. It is highly likely that IGF-1 promotes transformation of normal breast cells to breast cancers. In addition, IGF-1 maintains the malignancy of human breast cancer cells, including their invasiveness and ability to spread to distant organs. (Increased levels of IGF-1 have similarly been associated with colon and prostate cancers.) The prenatal and infant breast is particularly susceptible to hormonal influences. Such imprinting by IGF-1 may increase future breast cancer risks, and may also increase the sensitivity of the breast to subsequent unrelated risks such as mammography and the carcinogenic and estrogen-like effects of pesticide residues in food, particularly in pre-menopausal women.
Q. Are cows adversely affected by elevated IGF-1 levels?
A. Cows injected with rBGH show heavy localization of IGF-1 in breast (udder) epithelial cells. This does not occur in untreated cows. Cows are also affected in other ways by rBGH, through increased rates of mastitis, an udder infection. Industry data show up to an 80 percent incidence of mastitis in hormone-treated cattle, resulting in the contamination of milk with significant levels of pus. Mastitis requires the use of antibiotics to treat, which leaves residues to pass on through the milk for human consumption.
Q. What does the FDA say about IGF-1?
A. The FDA has trivialized evidence for increased levels in rBGH milk and insist that any such increases in IGF-1 are not dangerous, and do not pose a health risk. However, a 1990 study by Monsanto, the leading maker of rBGH, explicitly revealed statistically significant evidence of growth promoting effects. Feeding relatively low doses of IGF-1 to mature rats for only two weeks resulted in statistically significant and biologically highly significant systemic effects: increased body weight; increased liver weight; increased bone length; and decreased epiphyseal width. The FDA has failed to investigate the effects of long-term feeding of IGF-1 and treated milk on growth. Furthermore, the FDA has been hostile to the labeling of rBGH milk. The agency has prohibited dairy producers and retailers from labeling their milk as “hormone-free,” The FDA states that such labeling could be “false or misleading” under federal law. Monsanto is suing several milk producers for using the label.
Q. What have other scientists said about IGF-1?
A. Concerns about increased levels of IGF-1 in milk from cows treated with rBGH are not new. In 1990, the National Institutes of Health Consensus panel on rBGH expressed concerns about adverse health effects of IGF-1 in rBGH milk, calling for further study on health impacts, particularly infants. In 1991, the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated:” Further studies will be required to determine whether the ingestion of higher than normal concentrations of bovine insulin-like growth factor is safe for children, adolescents and adults.” Unfortunately, these studies were never done,
HERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO:
1. Do not buy milk from cows treated with rBGH. Unless the milk-label states “NO rBGH”, you can assume the milk is contaminated. rBGH has become so widely used by dairy farmers. Most health food stores sell rBGH-free milk.
2. Contact your local supermarket and find out if they have a policy regarding rBGH and milk. Make clear that you would like rBGH-free milk.
3. Write to the FDA and express your concern that they are restricting the labeling of rBGH-free milk.
Epstein, S. S. Potential public health hazards of biosynthetic milk
hormones. International Journal of Health Services, 20:73-84, 1990.
Epstein, S. S. Unlabeled milk from cows treated with biosynthetic
growth hormones: A case of regulatory abdication. International Journal of Health Services, 26(1):173-185, 1996.
Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman
Cancer Prevention Coalition
2121 West Taylor Street, M/C 922
Chicago, IL 60612