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19 Feb

Ask HCC’s Nutrition Expert


Are Dairy Products Bad For Your Health?

This month's question is...

I'm not sure if you're familiar with Dr. Fuhrman. He considers himself a nutritarian. It's basically a vegan type of diet. Anyway, he's been doing a lot of writing that dairy products are not good for human consumption. Among the reasons are that he thinks it can contribute to chronic disease and cancer because of the heightened IGF-1 hormone. What are your thoughts on dairy products? Should they be avoided in your opinion? I do have Greek Yogurt almost daily.

—Question submitted by Richard Hubbard, Webmaster



Insulin-like growth factor 1 or IGF-1, is a critically important hormone produced in humans and all mammals. IGF-1 promotes cell growth and division, which is important for normal growth and development. Studies have shown that eating animal protein does increase IGF-1 in humans. The question is, are increased levels of IGF-1 in the body harmful to health? Research has shown links between high levels of IGF-1 and certain types of cancer, but also low levels of IGF-1 and Alzheimers, dementia and heart disease. Dairy products do contain animal proteins so would increase IGF-1 levels in body. More interestingly, dairy cows in USA are injected with Bovine Growth Hormone to increase their production of milk, but this also increases their levels of IGF-1. As a result, dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt will contain even higher levels of IGF-1. Organic dairy come from cows that are not treated with Bovine Growth Hormone and therefore would be lower in IFG-1. What we know at this time is that eating animal proteins does increase the amount of IGF-1 in our body. But what we don’t know at this time is whether increased IGF-1 has any negative effects on health. If you are concerned about this issue, consider buying organic yogurt which contains lower amounts of IGF-1 than conventional yogurt. If you can find grass fed organic yogurt that would be even healthier, as grass fed yogurt contains a heart healthy fatty acid profile.

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