EAST TEXAS– Drink more milk, eat more butter, and you may lower your chances for getting certain types of cancers, according to a dairy specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
Moreover, the milk from cows that graze East Texas pastures may contain more anti-carcinogens — compounds that prevent cancer — than the milk produced in other regions of the country, says Max Sudweeks, who is based at the Texas A&M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Overton.
The health advantage from consuming dairy products isn’t just idle speculation, Sudweeks says.
“There’s mounting data from both mouse studies and of human populations to show that milk and milk fat may lower the chances of breast, prostate and other cancers,” he says.
Sudweeks cites a critical review recently published in the American Journal for Nutritional Sciences. The review summarized more than 70 scientific studies done in the United States and other countries.
The review noted that several studies have shown clearly less tumor development of mice fed butter than those fed margarines made of polyunsaturated (vegetable) oils.
Mice studies weren’t the only ones that indicated cow’s milk and dairy fat lowered the risk of cancer. Another study found that mother’s milk from women of the Hare Krishna religious sect contained twice as much conjugated linoleic acid as that of Australian mothers. The Hare Krishna sect’s diet is high in butter and ghee (milk fat). Conjugated linoleic acid is a biological compound associated with the prevention of tumors, particularly tumors of the colon.
In India, where buffalo ghee is a common component of the indigenous population’s diet, age-adjusted breast cancer rates are one- third of that of Western women.
According to the review, the primary health advantage from dairy products results from the dairy cow’s ability to extract anti- carcinogenic agents such as beta-carotene and beta-ionone from its feed and transfer them to milk. Though some of these anti- carcinogenic agents come from ration components such as cottonseed meal, the more significant ones, such as beta-carotene, come from consumption of live forages — pastures.
“East Texas is known for its pastures. Because of our region’s mild winters, grazing animals spend a proportionately greater time on pasture here,” Sudweeks says.
Sudweeks notes that if grazing live pasture makes for more healthful milk, then East Texas’ long grazing period should mean milk produced here should be some of the most healthful in the world.