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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE May 10, 2001

D.C. Mayor Decides Against Milk-Mustache Promotion

Physicians Group Thanks Mayor for Changing His Mind

WASHINGTON—D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams has decided against appearing in a milk-mustache ad after hearing concerns about the health risks of dairy raised by representatives of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The mayor has also reversed his plan to declare May 11 "Drink Chocolate Milk Day." The mayor was scheduled to don a milk-mustache during a promotion at the National Zoo on Friday evening.

"We commend the mayor for declining to promote dairy," says PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. "Like a lot of Americans, the mayor just hadn’t heard that milk really isn’t the health food the dairy industry says it is. But after we presented his medical advisors with years of research studies showing that dairy causes a multitude of health problems, the mayor changed his mind. By saying no to special interests, Mayor Williams is saying yes to good science."

After hearing about the mayor’s plans to promote chocolate milk in a dairy industry marketing campaign three weeks ago, PCRM launched an initiative to educate the mayor about the risks of dairy products. Two PCRM doctors and three nutritionists held a news conference outside the mayor’s office on May 2 to discuss the links between cow’s milk and prostate cancer, anemia, ovarian cancer, allergies, juvenile-onset diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and breast cancer.

PCRM doctors also noted that a great many adults and older children, particularly people of color, are lactose intolerant and unable to drink milk. The speakers also explained that the chocolate milk the mayor was planning to endorse has just as much sugar as soda but, unlike soda, cow’s milk is also high in fat, especially the saturated fat that is implicated in heart disease. Even 2 percent milk contains 5 grams of fat per serving. After the news conference, the PCRM doctors delivered a comprehensive "Case Against Dairy" to the mayor’s office.

PCRM led an effort in 1999 which included a successful lawsuit to incorporate non-dairy products into federal food guidelines. The campaign was supported by the Congressional Black Caucus; the NAACP; Martin Luther King, III; Jesse Jackson, Jr.; the National Hispanic Medical Association; and former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, M.D.

PCRM also filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission last year charging the milk-mustache campaign with deceptive health claims. That petition is currently under investigation.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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