Part of the problem is that the milk you bring home from the grocery store comes from modern dairy farms, where milk is mass-produced 300 days of the year. For much of that time, these dairy cows are pregnant. The hormones contained in the cow’s milk increase as her pregnancy progresses.
The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our grandparents and great grandparents were drinking. Before the advent of mass-produced milk, cows were milked for human consumption approximately five months a year, and certainly not when cows were in their later stages of pregnancy, therefore minimizing the amount of estrogen in the milk consumed.
It is thought that cow’s milk accounts for 60-80% of the estrogens consumed (WOW!), further contributing this idea that we live in an “estrogen dominant” society. For comparison’s sake, it is thought that a dairy cow in the later stages of pregnancy excretes as much as 33 times as much estrogen (in the form of estrone sulfate) than its non-pregnant counterpart.
The link between heightened cancer risk and dietary estrogen was examined in 42 countries. Curiously, the rates of testicular cancer among men aged 30 to 39 are higher is places such as Switzerland and Denmark, where cheese is a national food, and lowest in Algeria and other countries where dairy is not widely consumed.
What can you do?
Of course there are not going to be any radical changes in the dairy industry and this of course is not the only factor that needs to be considered when examining the pros and cons of dairy consumption as we often think “milk does a body good”.
However, if you are consuming cow’s milk to get your daily dose of calcium, perhaps this is a reason to explore other sources – green leafy vegetables, carrots, and other tasty dairy substitutes (goat, almond, rice or soy milk).
Also, you can help yourself reduce your dietary estrogen consumption by swapping your homogenous milk (containing 3.25% fat) and even 2% milk for 1% milk or skim milk (as hormones reside in milk fat).
If you have great dairy alternatives you use, please let us know! We look forward to hearing your thoughts and recommendations!