Dairy, Fast-Growing Kids, and Cancer

Scientific studies have consistently repeated the observation that most common cancers are associated with stimulated growth in childhood, especially growth fueled by a diet heavy in growth-promoting animal products. This protein- and fat-rich diet is enabling today's children to exceed the height predicted by their parental genetics. But children who mature early and grow taller than expected by parental height have been shown to be at higher risk of breast, prostate, colorectal, leukemic, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.1

Animal models have displayed this phenomenon for decades.2 We now have the data to conclude that the same is true for humans. Growth can be equated with aging; slower growth leads to slower aging and longer life. We used to think rapid growth in our children was a beneficial phenomenon. "Drink your milk. It will help you grow big and strong," parents parroted to their children. Over the years, however, scientists have noted that animals that grow faster and mature quicker, die younger. Now we find that drinking "growth promoting" cow's milk in early childhood may have negative effects. Humans are designed to be raised on human milk in the first few years of life, not cow's milk. Human milk makes for slower growth. Cow's milk is specially designed for baby cows, and it supplies the nutrients to facilitate the rapid growth natural to cows.

Epedimiological studies consistently show low death rates from breast and prostate cancer where dairy consumption is very low.3 In areas of the world where breast-feeding is routinely continued past the second birthday, the intake of cow's milk is exceedingly low. It is likely that this combination of more breast milk and a much later introduction of cow's milk explains the results of these studies linking very low intake of dairy to lower incidence of breast and prostate cancer.

This passage is from the chapter entitled "Understanding the Causes of Cancer and Other Illnesses" from Joel Fuhrman M.D.'s new book Disease-Proof Your Child.

1 Okasha M. Gunnell D., Holly J et al. Childhood growth and adult cancer. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab 2002;16(2):225-41. Must A, Lipman RD, Childhood energy intake and cancer mortality in adulthood. Nutr Rev 1999;57(1)21-4. Wang DY, De Stavola BL, Allen DS, et al. Breast cancer is positively associated with height. Breast Cancer Res Treat 1997;43(2):123-8. Barker DJ, Winter PD, Osmond C, et al. Weight gain in infancy and cancer of the ovary. Lancet 1995;345(8957): 1087-8. Albanes D, Jones DY, Schatzkin A, et al. Adult stature and risk of cancer. Cancer Res 1988;48:1658-62. Chute CG, Willett WC, Colditz GA, et al. A prospective study of body mass, height, and smoking on the risk of colorectal cancer in women. Cancer Causes Contr 1991;2:117-24.

2 Kristal BS, Yu BP. Aging and its modulation by dietary restriction. In: Yu BP, ed. Modulation of aging processes by dietary restriction. London: CRC Press, 1994:1-36.

3 Stocks P. Breast cancer anomalies. Br J Cancer 1970;24:633-643, Outwater JL, Nicholson A, Barnard N. Dairy products and breast cancer: the IGF-1, estrogen and bGH hypothesis. Medical Hypotheses 1997;48:453-461.

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