There have been many questions on the subject of feeding young children cow’s milk long past the age when they would normally stop drinking their own mother’s breast milk. Not surprisingly, a study was released this past week linking cow’s milk to early menstruation in young girls. Drinking fairly large quantities of the beverage over long periods increases the chance for girls to reach menstruation at a younger age than they would normally.
This is not all that remarkable if you consider that it is an unnatural act to drink a substance that is designed for an altogether different species. The bovine (cattle) genus is poles apart from the human being. Calves have exceptionally different developmental patterns than humans; they grow to an enormous size and in a very short period of time.
Many people have also questioned the routine of giving additional bovine growth hormones to dairy cattle. This practice has led a number of parents to purchase more costly, organic milk for their children. However, it seems that any kind of cow’s milk has an impact on the physical development of young girls.
Low fiber and monounsaturated fatty acid intake, high calcium, animal protein and animal fat intake each have been associated with a lower age at menarche…
Additionally, IGF-I, a naturally occurring growth hormone common to both bovines and humans, is associated with accelerated development rates for puberty and height. Both drinking cow’s milk and eating meat from animals are known to advance the circulating amounts of IGF-I throughout the system. Therefore, not only is drinking cow’s milk a drawback, combining it with a meaty diet only exacerbates the problem.
Apparently this is not the first study to link dairy products to early onset menstruation in young girls:
Other studies had suggested that greater intake of [cow’s] milk or [cow’s] milk-related nutrients such as calcium, protein, or fat contributed to earlier menarche…
Women born outside of the United States reach menstruation later, according to the research. The good news is that it is possible to avoid this occurrence wherever you reside. One vegan parent had this to say about her teenage daughter:
My daughter (vegan since age 5) got her period at age 14.5 instead of 12 like most of her friends. She loves soy foods, soy milk, etc. So it appears that phytoestrogens [found in soy products] have not had a negative effect.
We can all choose to feed ourselves and our loved ones a nutritious diet that is healthy, compassionate and causes the least harm to nature. For information on healthier sources of calcium and suggestions for changing over to a plant-based diet see:
© Jill Powers and The Feel Good Vegan 2011
For more information see: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0014685
Photo courtesy of Microsoft