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Living in Fear of Breast Cancer

Nearly every women worries about getting breast cancer.  And with good reason. We all know someone who's fought this disease and lost.

In the United States, about 40,000 women die from breast cancer each year.

But many more - around 240,000 - are diagnosed with this condition. And, after hearing this dreaded news, they undergo disfiguring surgery, often followed by chemotherapy and radiation, which zaps their strength and makes their hair fall out.

Given the prevalence of breast cancer, and the side effects caused by mainstream medical treatment, you'd think every effort would be made to educate the public on one critical issue. Milk may not be good for us. We may be drinking it by the gallon in an effort to protect our bones. But what's it doing to our breasts?

 A handful of researchers are uncovering a disturbing link between milk and the development of breast tumors. Although this connection hasn't been scientifically proven through rigorous controlled studies, the evidence, nonetheless, is mounting.

It's enough to make us think twice about the yogurt we put into our "healthy" breakfast smoothies.

Chinese Women Rarely Get Breast Cancer

The possible link between milk and cancer has barely been explored. Some claim this is because the powerful dairy lobby prevents such questions from being raised, and that the public is fed the party line that we all need milk.

Women in China, however, do not eat dairy products if they adhere to traditional Chinese cuisine, which would include rice, vegetables, soy products and a little bit of meat or fish. The disease is rarely seen in this population. It's so rare, in fact, that it's considered an anomaly. The rural Chinese call it "rich womens' disease" because that's primarily who it affects. Only women with enough money to eat a Western diet are plagued with breast tumors, according to Dr. Jane Plante, PhD., who has battled the disease herself.

Dr. Plante, who lives in Great Britain, has worked hard to spread the word that milk consumption may be a trigger for cancer. After her fourth episode of breast cancer, her disease returned for a fifth time. Her time here appeared very short, until she gave up milk. Then, a large tumor on her neck began to shrink. Eventually, the malignancy was reabsorbed into her body, and she has remained disease free for 20 years.

She was able to make this fortunate connection between diet and disease because she and her husband had worked with Chinese people. At one business event, she had noticed that the Chinese visitors wouldn't touch the milk-rich desserts set out for them.

Kaiser Permanente Study on Milk and Breast Cancer

A large body of research known as the China Study seems to back up Dr. Plante's hypothesis. This was conducted by a professor from Cornell University, and his son, who is a medical doctor. The two scientists studied the health habits of people from all over China, and reached a number of conclusions. Among them was that the number of cases of breast cancer in Chinese women was just a fraction of what is seen in the West. The father-son team believed this is party due to the fact that the average diet doesn't include milk.

Additional studies of US-based populations seem to reach the same conclusion. A large sampling of patients with breast cancer was conducted by Kaiser Permanente medical group. Women who included dairy in their diets were shown to die from the disease more frequently than woman who didn't drink milk or eat cheese.

Dairy was also shown to conclusively raise the risk of two types of cancers - breast and prostate - in yet another body of research that appeared, in 2009, in the medical journal Dermato-Endocrinology.

 Dr. Andrew Weil, in his online advice, takes a more moderate stance, and says it's too soon to say there's absolute proof that milk can induce breast cancer. But he believes those who drink milk should choose a brand labeled organic.

The Added Issue of Bovine Growth Hormones

Many commercially raised dairy cows are given bovine growth hormones to increase their milk production. This may give us even more reason to avoid milk, if the authors of the study that ran in Dermato-Endocrinology are correct.

Their concern was that dairy products create a spike in the body's level of Insulin-like Growth Factor-1. Although IGF-1 is needed by the body, it's also known that too much of this naturally occuring protein may cause health problems, including cancer. Milk from cows given bovine growth hormones may contain even more of this protein than regular milk.