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D.C. Mayor Gets a Crash Course in Good Medicine

Singers, skaters, dancers, actors, and other celebrities are probably not our best health advisors, but that hasn't stopped dozens of them from appearing in slick milk-mustache ads promoting dairy as nature's good-for-what-ails-you beverage.

In April, Washington Mayor Anthony Williams announced he would join the list of stars taking part in milk-mustache advertisements and would declare May 11 "Drink Your Chocolate Milk Day" in the District of Columbia. The problem is, milk has enough saturated fat to aggravate D.C.'s obesity epidemic, and 16 research studies show dairy consumption increases the risk of prostate cancer, for which D.C. has one of the highest rates in the world.

On May 2, PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., director of preventive medicine Milton Mills, M.D., and other PCRM staff members held a press conference to present the "Case against Dairy." They pointed out that 70 percent of African Americans, who make up the majority of D.C. residents, are lactose intolerant. "Milk is harmful enough," said PCRM nutrition director Amy Lanou, Ph.D., "but Mayor Williams was planning to push chocolate milk, which has as much fat, calories, and sugar as typical sodas, and is among the types of food implicated in America's weight problems."

And—the mayor changed his mind. He reported he will not appear in a milk-mustache ad and also reversed his plan to declare May 11 "Drink Your Chocolate Milk Day."

PCRM filed a petition last year with the Federal Trade Commission charging the milk-mustache campaign with deceptive health claims, which are still under investigation. Mayor Williams and others who pledge to protect the public interest should rely on solid science when deciding which causes to support, not on those in the business of selling products and making profits. PCRM is now contacting mayors in other U.S. cities.

The Case against Dairy


  • Sixteen studies now link dairy consumption with prostate cancer.
  • The milk sugar lactose breaks down in the body to galactose and glucose. According to Harvard researchers, when galactose production exceeds the body's capacity to eliminate it, toxicity to the ovaries can occur, increasing the risk of ovarian cancer and infertility.
  • Milk consumption may also raise the risk for breast cancer by elevating levels of insulin-like growth factor I, a compound that is believed to be nature's way to fuel rapid growth in calves.


  • Population studies show a strong correlation between the consumption of dairy products and the incidence of insulin-dependent, or Type 1, diabetes. Milk proteins appear to spark an auto-immune reaction believed to destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.


  • The Harvard Nurses' Health Study, which followed more than 75,000 women for 12 years, showed no protective effect of increased milk consumption on fracture risk. An Australian study found the same results.

Heart Disease

  • Diets high in saturated animal fats can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, our number-one killer. Milk, cheese, butter, ice cream, sour cream, and yogurt are major contributors of fat and cholesterol in the typical American diet.


  • Bovine growth hormone is commonly used in dairy cows to increase milk production. As a result, cows develop mastitis, or inflammation of the mammary glands, which requires treatment with antibiotics. Traces of these drugs and hormones, as well as pesticides, are frequent contaminants of dairy products.

Vitamin D Toxicity

  • Milk does not provide a reliable source of vitamin D. Some samplings have shown milk to contain as much as 500 times the recommended level, while other batches contain none at all. A vitamin D excess can be toxic to the body.

Effect on Infants

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants below one year of age not be given whole cow's milk as they would run the risk of iron deficiency, colic, food allergies, and chronic constipation. Evidence continues to mount against the case for dairy products in any body, young or old.


Autumn 2001 (Volume X, Number 4)
 Autumn 2001
Volume X
Number 4

Good Medicine

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