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Vegetarianism in the News

December 1, 2001 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Professor Exposes Osteoporosis Hoax

"Dairy products shouldn't occupy the prominent place that they do in the USDA Food Pyramid, nor should they be the centerpiece of the national strategy to prevent osteoporosis, " writes Walter C. Willett, M.D. in his new book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy (Simon and Schuster, 2001).

Dr. Willett, Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, joins others in pointing out that milk is not a necessity in the diet of Americans.

Too much calcium may be harmful for both men and women. Studies have shown a link between high calcium intake and prostate cancer in men and ovarian cancer in women. Aside from cancer, other reasons to avoid milk are lactose intolerance, saturated fat, and extra calories.

Willett reveals statistics that show that only a quarter of the world adult population can fully digest milk. In the United States approximately 50 million adults have lost the ability to make an enzyme called lactase that breaks down lactose (milk sugar). This group includes half of the Hispanics, 75% of African Americans, and 90% of Asian Americans. For these ethnic groups drinking milk results in such discomforts as nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and bloating.

The saturated fat and extra calories in dairy products contribute to obesity and heart disease. They also have been linked to prostate and ovarian cancer.

Dr. Willett also points out that studies have shown that a high protein diet causes acids in the bloodstream. Calcium drawn from the bones is used to neutralize these acids. The more protein consumed, the more calcium is excreted from the body.

Through the efforts of the National Dairy Council and its allies, dairy products have been promoted as the main line of defense against osteoporosis. Yet, statistical studies have revealed that those nations with the highest dairy consumption also have the highest rates of osteoporosis in their populations.

What can people do to reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis? Here are three recommendations made by Dr. Willett:

  • Be as physically active as possible and engage in a variety of activities to keep your bones healthy and your muscles strong.
  • Get enough vitamin K by eating at least one serving of green leafy vegetables a day (dark green lettuce, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and kale).
  • Take a standard RDA-level multivitamin that contains vitamin D.

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