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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Essays

Dr. Jerry Vlasak is currently engaged in the practice of Trauma Surgery at a Level II Trauma Center. He is board certified in surgery, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. A graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, Dr. Vlasak attended medical school in Houston where he chose a career in surgery. He served a six-year residency at Harbor- UCLA Medical Center in the Los Angeles area before establishing a private practice. Dr. Vlasak has also held a full-time teaching position at a Yale-affiliated hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut.

He has also been a regular advisor to and spokesperson for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a group of some 5000 doctors and 100,000 non-physicians who promote healthy living through preventative medicine.

Dr. Vlasak and his wife Pamelyn Ferdin, a childhood actress of some renown, now reside in Southern California.

Not Milk!

Jerry Vlasak, MD, FACS

Scientific Advisor, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Dairy products, including cheese, yogurt, and anything else made from the milk of a female cow, when consumed by humans, present a real and quantifiable health-risk, and include increased incidence of osteoporosis, breast and prostate cancer, heart and cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease and diabetes. Throw in increased antibiotic resistance, hormone derangements, food poisoning and possibly mad-cow disease, and it should be clear cow's milk has no place in our diets.

Despite a $180 million-a-year ad campaign, USDA support, and a powerful lobby, the dairy industry has been unable to stop the downward turn in milk sales and a growing concern about the risks of milk consumption. Although per capita milk consumption has fallen 25% since 1970, Americans continue to consume unhealthy amounts of dairy products as the federal government continues to promote dairy consumption. Jerry Vlasak

But what are the facts about dairy?

Cow's milk contains three main nutrients: sugar or lactose; fat; and cholesterol, which are high in unhealthy calories and contribute to atherosclerosis. These nutrients are great for getting a baby cow to gain some 400 pounds in its first year of life. They are deadly for humans when consumed on a regular basis. There is absolutely no reason for humans, of any age, to drink cow's milk, just like we don't need dog's milk, or rat's milk, or giraffe's milk.

Milk for Children
Many people still think children need to drink cow's milk to build healthy bones. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As the late Benjamin Spock, M.D., wrote in his best-selling Baby and Child Care book, cow's milk is not necessary for children and, in fact, causes health problems in many, including asthma and ear infections. He also wrote, "I no longer recommend dairy products after the age of two years. Green leafy vegetables, beans, and fortified orange juice are healthful calcium sources, and plant-based diets help keep calcium in the bones and may actually reduce calcium loss via the kidneys."

The World Health Organization has consistently recommended 400-500 milligrams of calcium per day, and that is probably a reasonable amount, even though our own FDA recommends 1300 milligrams per day for kids. But the most important thing is not how much calcium kids take in. What matters is how much they keep in their bones. More on this later.

Seventy-five percent of the world's population is actually lactose intolerant, proving that not being able to digest lactose, the sugar in milk products, is actually the norm.

In our National School Lunch Program, milk is the only beverage that must be offered to children, each and every day. This is despite widespread knowledge that 70% of blacks, 80% of Asians and 50% of Hispanics have a genetic intolerance to lactose, while only 15% of Caucasians do. This represents racism in its most blatant form on behalf of the US Government against its own citizens, and PCRM is suing the federal government to stop this practice.

People need calcium, not only for building bones but also for managing day-to-day cellular activities like contracting muscles, maintaining the nervous system and absorbing vitamin B-12. Milk does indeed pack a fairly high dose of calcium: 300 milligrams in an eight-ounce glass. Less well known is that dairy products cause calcium to be lost through the kidneys into the urine, making it useless to the body. Fortunately, calcium is found in many other foods, including tofu, turnip greens, black-eyed peas and bok choy, and a diet rich in vegetables and fruits help the body to retain calcium. That's what really counts.

Osteoporosis is a disease that leads to a million and a half bone fractures a year, at a cost of $14 billion in health care and lost wages. Most people have been led to believe that osteoporosis comes from consuming too little calcium. In reality, exercise is far more important, as well as the amount of calcium actually retained (not consumed). Other nutrients like vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc help build bones, too. Smoking and immoderate alcohol consumption can weaken bones, and genetic predisposition can play a key role in bone health.

Proving cow's milk consumption is not a component in the prevention of weak bones, Harvard's large and continuing Nurses' Health Study has observed about 78,000 nurses over 12 years, asking them about their lifelong milk consumption, monitoring their diets and keeping track of their bone fractures. Contrary to expectations, this study confirmed that women who drank two or more glasses of milk a day had a "modest but significantly increased risk of hip and forearm fracture compared with those who drank less milk.

If one looks at intakes of calcium around the world, one will find the higher the intakes, the higher the osteoporosis rates.Dairy products don't protect against osteoporosis.

Cancer and Other Diseases
Sixteen studies now link milk-drinking to prostate cancer. Milk also encourages iron deficiency by interfering with iron absorption. It may be a trigger for Type 1 diabetes. And studies have also indicated that dairy products may contribute to constipation, breast cancer, and heart disease. As you can see, there are plenty of risks with milk and no clear benefits.

What Else is in Milk?
A recent study in the Wall Street Journal says 38% of milk samples in 10 cities were contaminated with sulfa drugs or other antibiotics. You may be horrified to learn that the USDA allows milk to contain from one to one and a half million white blood cells (that's pus) per millilitre. Bovine Growth Hormone is present in most milk produced in the U.S., and there have been no long-term studies on this hormone's effect on humans. The prions responsible for Mad Cow Disease have also been isolated from cow's milk.

As you can see, humans have no need to consume cow's milk or dairy products, and these can be and are harmful to our health. In addition, dairy cows suffer horribly in confinement, are continuously impregnated to keep their milk production high, and their babies are taken away and raised as veal. Do yourself and the animals a favor, and stop drinking milk!

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