Reader Beth writes in:
So, I just got my copy of Cordain's latest newsletter, and he has a longish piece on the problems with dairy, which intros with dairy's "high insulinemic response, recombinant bovine growth hormone, casein protein, or lactose intolerance" and then goes on at length about dairy, betacellulin, and increased stimulation of the EGF receptor which is linked to cancer. Given that Cordain is back-pedaling on saturated fats, it's certainly within the realm of possibility that he's not gotten this one right. But I know others who are down on dairy too. Certainly has me (a lay person) slightly concerned, though I'm still including good dairy from pastured cows when I can get it. Anyone have any comments on this question about dairy as it relates to cancer risk?
If I have a problem with Cordain's methodology, it's that he seems to decide that something should be bad, then marshalls everything he can find to prove it so. This is just what he did with saturated fat, with all those theoretical calculations based on wild game assays to prove that paleo man could not have eaten very much of it.
His "paleolithic principle" differs from mine in that he seems to start with "not available in the paleo period = bad" and then looks for harder science to support it. My method looks first at medical evidence and metabolism, then looks for which (not necessarily all) neolithic agents are likely to account for the diseases of civilization.
If you follow my methodology it is hard to get as excited about cheese and butter as wheat corn oil and fructose. I am not saying his concerns are baseless, it's just I would trust Dr. Cordain more if he had more things he was not so sure about. His certainty that dairy is harmful just sounds too much like his former certainty about saturated fat.
Later on I'll deal with some of those specific claims, some of which seem a bit overwrought.
I am not totally sure about Dairy. I have admitted this from the get-go.
My prejudice is that it is an order of magnitude less dangerous (I am not talking about lactose intolerance which is trivial - just avoid milk) than my three horsemen of Gluten, Fructose and Linoleic acid.
I think if we as health bloggers are honest about our uncertainty, then when we pound our shoe on the podium about things like gluten grains, we have more credibility. You see us reserve our most emphatic pronouncements for what we feel are the biggest threats. This is more robust and truly more scientific than hewing to some unified field theorem of diet that may be more elegant and attractive and sell better as a "system", but in the long run may lead us astray or morph into something like the government food pyramid.
Dairy and it's alleged dangers is high on my list of future blog topics.
For now I'll say it makes little sense to totally avoid dairy protein for it's insulinogenic sins if you still have even a trace of carbohydrate in your diet, and if you are that concerned you can stick to butter, cream and small amounts of cheese and be avoiding 90% of what Cordain is afraid of .