Calcium is undisputedly important to strong and healthy bones. What is in dispute however is whether milk—traditionally touted as one of the top sources of calcium and a foundation of a healthy diet—really does a body good as the ad campaign asserts. A new study shows that milk is bad.
A study was published in the British Medical Journal that followed more than 100,000 people in Sweden over periods of 20 to 30 years. The study, from researchers at Sweden’s Uppsala University, found that the milk drinkers were more likely to die from heart disease and cancer, and the women in particular had a higher occurrence of hip and overall bone fractures.
The American Journal of Public Health notes a study stating that dairy consumption might actually increase the risk of fractures by 50 percent. Other studies have also shown that calcium isn’t necessarily as bone protective as we thought; multiple studies on calcium supplementation have not demonstrated benefit in reducing bone fracture risk. In fact, vitamin D appears to be more effective when it comes to reducing bone fracture risk.  Studies have also shown that dairy products might increase a male’s risk of developing prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. 
“We seem to be the only species of mammals that drink milk after infancy, and definitely the only species that drinks another species’ milk. Cow’s milk is not designed for human consumption. Human milk is very different in composition from cow’s milk or goat’s milk or any other mammal’s milk. Cow’s milk contains on average about three times the amount of protein than human milk does, which creates metabolic disturbances in humans that have detrimental bone health consequences, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.”  
The Huffington Post, from a study by David Ludwig, a Harvard professor and pediatrician, cites that one of the other issues with milk possibly doing us more harm than good is because of all the sugar in even the plain, non-fat versions.  In the paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Dr. Ludwig also points out that fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk compared to those that do, also noting that there are many other sources of calcium. 
Also, according to the Genetics Home Reference, approximately 65 percent of the world’s population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. If individuals who are lactose intolerant consume lactose-containing dairy products, they may experience unpleasant side effects including abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea and diarrhea.
Whether or not you’ll suffer from lactose intolerance is likely tied to your ethnic heritage. For example, it’s less prevalent in populations with a history of dependence on unfermented milk products. Lactose intolerance in adulthood is most prevalent in people of East Asian descent, affecting more than 90 percent of adults in some of these communities and also very common in people of West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek and Italian descent. Only about five percent of people of Northern European descent are lactose intolerant. 
So how to ensure your diet is rich in calcium without dairy? Try these: collard greens, broccoli, broccoli rabe, and kale plus white beans, sardines, dried figs, black-eyed peas and almonds.
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