Let’s admit it; we have a love affair with the stuff. Cheese between bread, cheese with meat, cheese paired with wine, cheese on top of salads, cheese melted into stuff, cheese flavoured snacks, cheese stuffed into the crusts of four-cheese pizzas. It’s everywhere.
Cheese! Are You Actually Addicted?
As pleasurable as some may find it, so are many other foods which we are far less fanatical about… so what’s different?
The answer here is a little thing called Casomorphin; aka protein fragments from the milk protein, Casein. Casein breaks down during digestion where the peptide, Casomorphin is formed and begins to release histamine into the body, which is why so many people are intolerant or allergic to dairy products.
Casomorphin is an opiate and operates no differently here to anywhere else you would find the stuff – with repeated consumption, a dependency can form as a state of euphoria is produced each time the protein is ingested and abruptly breaking consumption habits can even lead to withdrawal symptoms. During the cheese-making process, the water from the milk gets removed leaving behind a concentrated amount of fat and casein, meaning the opiate levels are much higher in cheese products when compared to other dairy items like milk or yogurt.
But, so-what if it’s addictive – why does that matter? People are addicted to chocolate too – and it doesn’t mean cheese is the same as heroin, right?
Of course it doesn’t. No one has ever had a family intervention to talk about their problem with cheese. So whilst it’s not necessarily the addictiveness which is the problem, it is worth knowing whether cheese itself is harmful.
Firstly let’s think about why there is an addictive element to cheese and other dairy produce. Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says “It appears that the opiates from mother’s milk produce a calming effect on the infant and, in fact, may be responsible for a good measure of the mother-infant bond.” “Psychological bonds always have a physical underpinning. Like it or not, mother’s milk has a drug-like effect on the baby’s brain that ensures that the baby will bond with Mom and continue to nurse and get the nutrients all babies need.
Like heroin or codeine, Casomorphins slow intestinal movements and have a decided antidiarrheal effect. The opiate effect may be why adults often find that cheese can be constipating, just as opiate painkillers are.”
Taking this back to grass roots, when we are talking about dairy, we are talking about the maternal secretions of a mammal lactating to feed their infant – or more specifically, a female cow producing the nutrients to grow a 65lb calf into a 400lb adolescent cow – an odd choice of beverage for fully grown human-beings.
As alluded to before, the addictiveness of cheese/dairy isn’t necessarily the issue here.. the problem lies within a protein called IGF1, or Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 and is triggered in the body when we consume lactose – (the sugar found in the animal protein), saturated fat and the animal protein itself (e.g., Casein).
High levels of IGF1 in the body during adulthood has been strongly linked to various types of cancers. And what is IGF1? Well, it’s pretty much what it says on the tin – a growth factor – it helps you grow as a child, however, creates unfortunate issues during adulthood. When you no longer need to grow your body, the IGF1 instead triggers the growth and migration of cancer cells.
Interestingly the most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted by ex-dairy farmer, Dr. T Colin Campbell, shows findings through multiple studies that casein is a chemical carcinogen and should be avoided – much like dioxin also found in animal-based foods.
Looking at some population studies, we can see that men who drink milk have a 68% higher risk of prostate cancer compared to those who don’t, and a staggering 320% increased risk if they consume it during stages of adolescence. Yeah… we’re not just talking cheese any more people, but I hope you see the connection.
The National Institute of Health also recognizes Estrogen to be a carcinogen, meaning that excess levels of this hormone can be harmful and in certain cases lead to the development of breast cancer among both men and women – interestingly this study on dairy milk states that “the daily intake of total investigated estrogens through milk is 372ng, which is dramatically more than currently recognized”.
Heal aside though, it is worth considering that there are many other reasons why people are opting to go dairy free. For example:
DID YOU KNOW?
(DAIRY FACTS 101)
1. COW’S MILK CONTAINS PUS, BLOOD AND POOP
The dairy industry reassures us that this is not harmful as the pasteurizing process cooks the pus… but it’s still in there.
2. THE DAIRY INDUSTRY FUNDS THE VEAL INDUSTRY
Dairy cows are artificially inseminated so that she can produce milk. Upon or a couple of days proceeding the birth, the calf is then taken away from its mother to maximize profits, and if female, will be fed formula to substitute the naturally occurring milk (which we keep for humans) then raised to be part of the next generation of dairy cows.
If the calf is born male, however, he is seen as a byproduct and sold to the veal industry for early slaughter. This process isn’t just limited to factory farms, and without the surplus of calfs from the dairy industry, the veal industry would cease to exist.
3. DAIRY COWS DIE EARLY
The natural lifespan of a cow can range between 18-25 years, however the majority of dairy cows will die prematurely at 4-5 years either from exhaustion or early slaughter for beef. Check out our Enviro Facts page or watching Cowspiracy to learn about the damaging affects animal agriculture is having on our planet
4. DAIRY IS LINKED WITH BONE DEFICIENCIES
Dr. Michael Greger MD explains that “hip fracture rates are highest in populations with the greatest milk consumption” and results after a 20 year study on 100,000 men and women showed that “milk drinking women had higher rates of death, more heart disease and significantly more cancer for each glass of milk. Three glasses per day was associated with nearly twice the risk of death and they had significantly more risk of hip fractures too”
“Men in a separate study also had a higher rate of death with high milk consumption” – all things considered, plant protein is preferable to animal protein for a variety of reasons (tends to have less methionine, is less IGF1 promoting, etc).