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Milk shake-up

Milk shake-up

Dr. Wright has said it before and a new study from the University of Liverpool warrants him saying it again: “Milk is for baby cows, not for baby humans” — or adult humans, for that matter. Milk has already been linked to numerous health concerns including prostate problems and (ironically) bone fractures. Now this recent research adds yet another item to the growing list of reasons to stay away from dairy: It may contain bacteria that can cause Crohn’s disease.

For those of you who may not be familiar with it, Crohn’s disease involves chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that typically leads to frequent bouts of pain and diarrhea. It has typically been regarded as an autoimmune disease, but this new study suggests there may be another factor at work.

The researchers found that a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis, which causes a wasting disease in cattle called Johne’s disease, can make its way into humans via milk and dairy products. Once inside the body, the Mycobacteria release a molecule that prevents white blood cells from killing E. coli bacteria. Previous research has shown that people suffering from Crohn’s disease have higher-than-normal levels of E.coli in their bodies.

The next phase of the research will focus on whether or not antibiotics may be able to help treat cases of Crohn’s disease linked to Mycobacterium. But the jury is likely to remain out for quite awhile regarding whether the benefits of high-dose antibiotic therapy would outweigh the risks.

In the meantime, if you haven’t given up milk and dairy yet, it’s high time you at least consider it. There are plenty of other options to choose from these days. There’s rice or almond milk for your morning coffee. And if you just can’t do without cheese, there are soy versions that come in almost every variety (just indulge in them sparingly, as Dr. Wright recommends, since the long-term effects of soy still aren’t known).

“How bacteria in cows’ milk may cause Chron’s disease,” Science Daily (, 12/10/08