163924 Last update: 2023-08-11
Myths Concerning Osteoporosis

Dairy products cause problems to many people such as allergies (IgE and IgG) to the main proteins of animal milk and/or due to lactose intolerance, but also because of their richness in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. However we have long been told that the daily consumption of dairy products is essential to the development and maintenance of bone mass to avoid osteoporosis later on in life.

So is this a myth or a reality? Let’s start by examining the prevalence of osteoporosis in some countries where consumption of dairy products is no more than an anecdote, for example in Asia. When one examines Asia we in fact find very few signs of osteoporosis among the inhabitants. This finding of course raises several questions. Furthermore, now let us look at countries with a high consumption of dairy products, as in North-West Europe and North America, and compare the frequency of osteoporosis among their inhabitants. Well it is well known that there is a high level of osteoporosis in those countries! Troublesome isn’t?

Someone has to explain to me why these simple epidemiological findings go so totally against the long held “doctrine of osteoporosis”. Secondly, we should look at the following study from America which raises further issues about the dairy industry. When you read further you will quickly understand why!

I believe it is a remarkable study from a statistical point of view because it concerns 77,761 nurses followed over 12 years. That’s a million patient years; now that’s what I call a study.  I think this should reassure us as to the validity of the statistical data from this particular study.

The authors of this article, published in 1997 in the American Journal of Public Health, identified two groups: the nurses who consumed animal milks (defined as those drinking at least two glasses of milk daily) on one side, versus the nurses  who didn’t drink any milk (defined as those drinking a maximum of one glass daily) on the other. All we need to do next is compare the relative incidence of hip fractures together with forearm fractures in both groups.

Should we be surprised that we found 45% more hip fractures in the group of milk drinkers? These milk drinkers had less relative risk of forearm fracture but still 5% more than non-milk drinkers. In short the myth that “milk is essential to strong bones” is not supported for one second by the objective analysis of the facts and data, period!

The question remains why the abundant calcium in animal milks isn’t beneficial to many individuals. One possibility is that multiple problems of allergies and intolerance cause so much damage to the intestinal mucosa that the absorption of calcium is compromised. This would affect not only the calcium from dairy products, but also from other food sources: green vegetables, seeds, nuts, and mineral water. This remains a hypothesis but a seductive one. Have you ever seen a cow eating yoghourt? No, all its calcium comes from grass and only grass!

Far from me to forbid dairy products to everybody, but only to those who react negatively to them – with allergies or intolerances – who should no longer be subject to bitter criticism threatening to see their bones fall into dust as soon as they stop consuming them. The reign of this long held belief that dairy products are good for us is not acceptable any more. Patients judiciously refraining from dairy products don’t see their bone mass falling but on the contrary, as long as they are well advised as to the alternatives….and there are many.

Beside the already mentioned foods, one must consider the vegetable milks enriched with calcium, along with whole sardines that include soft bones. Let’s insist on the best of the best: sunflower seeds! For more information you can consult my internet site: www.gmouton.com: list of milks, list of waters, list of calcium; conference on the intestinal mucosa (5d - G.I. ECOLOGY 2 – MUCOSA, slides towards the end).

And finally, let’s now stop demanding that our school children obligatorily consume “three servings of dairy products per day”!

By changing nothing, we hang to what we understand, even if it is the bars of our own jail.
- John le Carré, The Russia House 1989

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