Grilled cheese… ice cream,…lasagna….macaroni and cheese . If these words leave you salivating, you are not alone. Many a night when I was in my teens and twenties, I spent the evening with Ben and Jerry. Kraft mac and cheese was my college go-to dinner. I now realize that these foods only made my PCOS worse.
I wish I knew then, what I am going to share with you now.
Here are 7 dangers of dairy for women with PCOS:
1. 75% -90% of all marketed milk and milk products are derived from pregnant cows
A cow is bred and produces no milk until she is post-partum with her first calf. She feeds her calf for about a month, and then she is put on the milking line. The cow is bred at her first heat, if possible (about 6 weeks post-partum) and milking continues during that 10-month pregnancy, until the cow is allowed to ‘‘dry’’ a few weeks before delivery. ‘‘Freshening,’’ the production of a new fresh milk supply post-partum, results from this cycle. This sequence results in milk that contains not only placenta-derived progesterone but also other dihydrotestosterone (DHT) precursors, including 5a-pregnanedione and 5a-androstanedione. These compounds are only a few enzymatic steps away from DHT.(1) During pregnancy female cows hormones like estrogen and progesterone go sky-high and these hormones are present in the milk. Some of the hormones found in cow’s milk are: estrdiol, estriol, progesterone, testosterone, 17-ketosteroids, corticosterone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), growth hormone (GH) prolactin, oxytocin and others.
2. Cows are given genetically engineered growth hormones to increase milk production
The typical cow produces milk for about 300 days after giving birth. In order to keep daily production levels high during this time the industry started giving cows bovine growth hormone BST also called rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). It is a genetically engineered growth hormone that is injected into cows to increase their milk production. Cows injected with BST have 2-10 times as much IGF-1 (compared to untreated cows. Canada and the European Union have banned its use.
3. Cows are given antibiotics
Because cows are producing quantities of milk nature never intended the result is often mastits or inflammation of the mammary glands which requires antibiotic to treat. Traces of these are often found in milk samples.
4. Most dairy is unnaturally high in Omega-6 fatty acids and low in Omega 3
Conventional dairy in the US comes from factory farms where cows are fed products not natural to their diet such as grain, corn and often GMO soy. Milk from these grain fed cows is high in Omega-6 fatty acids which most women with PCOS have too much of to begin with.
5. Conventional cows are often fed food that has been treated with chemicals.
Pesticides, fungicides and fumigants are often used in cows feed. The container trucks that deliver milk from farm to factory are disinfected with chemicals, the residue of which is found in the milk supply as well.
6. Dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) — a known cancer promoter.
A growth factor is a small protein that is essential for a growth process. IGF’s have a similar structure to insulin. They can trigger similar cellular division as insulin. IGF-1 stimulates the growth of both normal and cancerous cells. Excessive levels of IGF-a have been implicated in a number of cancers. One study suggests that ovarian cells of PCOS women have exaggerated potential for IGF-1 stimulated cell division as compared to ovarian cells of normal women. (2) So we may be more responsive to IGF-1 than other women.
Also, the milk sugar lactose is broken down in the body into another sugar, galactose. In turn, galactose is broken down futher by enzymes. According to a study by Daniel Cramer, M.D. and his colleagues at Harvard (3) when dairy product consumption exceeds the enzymes capacity to break down galactose, it can build up in the blood and may affect a woman’s ovaries. Some women have particularly low levels of these enzymes, and when they consume dairy products of a regular basis, their risk of ovarian cancer can be triple that of other women.
7. You may be lactose intolerant
The majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase – the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugar in milk — sometime between the ages of two and five. In fact, for most mammals, the normal condition is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned. About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance. As many as 25% of Caucasians and an estimated 75-90% of blacks, Asians, and Native Americans are lactose intolerant.(4)
When I realized that dairy was aggravating my PCOS I was worried about calcium. What would happen to my bones if I wasn’t eating dairy?