Ethical Investing

rBGH (Posilac) -- Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer

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Recent research is beginning to confirm that dairy foods produced with Monsanto's genetically-engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) may speed the growth of human breast and prostate cancers. Because of the extreme dangers from regular ingestion of such dairy foods, the Cancer Prevention Coaltion and a research scientist issued a press release earlier this year detailing the risks. The dangers should have been obvious many years ago when much of this information was presented to Monsanto. Instead, they chose to ignore it and force their rBGH-dairy on the general population -- unlabelled.

Dairy products from cows injected with Monsanto's rBGH have three frightening differences:

  1. Large Increases in the Hormone IGF-1

    rBGH-dairy induces a 70% to 1000% increase in the levels of the hormone, IGF-1. IGF-1 in dairy foods is not destroyed by digestion because it is protected by casein and by dairy's buffering effect. At least some of this IGF-1 is absorbed into the body. IGF-1 stimulates the proliferation of cancer cells. Two recent studies showed that increased levels of IGF-1 in humans predict increased rates in breast cancer and prostate cancer.

      "A recent article (Cancer Research, 55:2463-2469, June 1995) from Renato Baserga's laboratory in Philadelphia has shown clearly that IGF-1 is required for the establishment and maintenance of tumors. The mechanism for this is that IGF-1 protects the cells from apoptosis (programmed cell death). IGF accelerates tumor growth and appears to affect the aggressiveness of tumors. As the IGF-1 level is decreased, cell death can take place. We are talking about IGF-1 levels of 10 nanogram per m1, i.e., 0.00001 milligram per ml."

      "My concern is that increases in such minute levels could readily enter the blood stream of individuals drinking milk from BST [rBGH] treated cows. As an individual ages, indolent tumor cells do appear in various organs (breast, ovary, prostate, etc..) which grow slowly with the result that clinical cancer is not manifested until old age, or, in many cases, after the individual would have died of other causes. Stimulation of these cells by elevated levels of IGF-1 would result in clinical cancer in a decade or two or even less. Furthermore, these levels of IGF-1 could stimulate the progression and aggressiveness of childhood leukemias to a point that chemotherapy could not be effective, much less curative."

      "The widespread consumption of BST [rBGH] supplemented milk is therefore an experiment on an unsuspecting population that could have horrendous consequences and overwhelm the health care system. The experiment would take one to three decades when it would be difficult to dismantle a well-entrenched BST [rBGH] industry, and still have one to three decades' worth of individuals in the pipeline. I can conceive of no animal experiments to test this and to provide hard data to predict the magnitude and time frame for this effect. The risk to benefit ratio of this experiment is clearly not in favor of the consumer."
      [George L. Tritsch, Cancer Research Scientist (Retired), August 7, 1995]

    Despite the overwhelming danger for future generations, Monsanto has pushed ahead and forced rBGH-dairy on the unsuspecting public. Sometimes, they put out scientifically inaccurate information to allay fears. Some examples may include:

    • "There is more IGF-1 in saliva." But it is destroyed by digestion because it is not protected as is IGF-1 in dairy foods.

    • "A significant amount of IGF-1 is not absorbed." As noted in the quote above, it only takes an extremely small level to cause problems.

    • "There is more IGF-1 in breast milk." Autopsy studies have shown that 39% of women between 40 and 50 have clinically insignificant, undetectable breast cancer (while only ~1% are diagnosed with cancer). It normally takes so many decades for cancer to grow, that most (but not all) people die long before it would be detected. rBGH-dairy would be expected to speed the growth of these undetectable cancers so that within a decade or two we will likely see huge increases in detectable cancers in persons over 40 years old. Infants generally do not yet have small cancers, so IGF-1 will cause cancer cell proliferation.

    • "IGF-1 levels from rBGH-dairy would only increase by 1%." This refers to bound IGF-1 and not the more potent, free-form IGF-1.

    • "IGF-1 is destroyed by pasteurization". Wrong. Properly-conducted studies show an increase from pasteurization.

    • "IGF-1 levels from rBGH-dairy is commonly found in cows in certain lactation periods." Milk from cows is pooled in tanker trucks. Each individual cow has milk with different IGF-1 levels, but since they are mixed in tanker trucks and at the factory, the average intake of IGF-1 by consumers is somewhat stable. With rBGH-dairy, these averages increase by a frightening 70% to 1000%.

  2. rBGH-Dairy Leads to Increased Antibiotic Residues In Dairy

    Cows that are injected with the genetically-engineered hormone rBGH are prone to sickness such as infections of the udder (mastitis). This leads to an increase in pus in the milk as well as antibiotic residues. While milk is checked for a few different antibiotics, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has reported that milk with significant levels of antibiotics does get through to the consumer largely because the milk is checked for only a limited number of antibiotics. This will invariably lead to an increase in the number of antibiotic resistent diseases in children and adults.

  3. rBGH is Not Destroyed by Pasteurization and Ends Up in Dairy Foods

    Monsanto's genetically-engineered rBGH is different than normal BGH found in dairy foods.

      "Earlier this month, five (5) scientists from Canada's Health Protection Branch now report that they were pressured to approve rBGH despite discovering that a key pre-approval study was misrepresented in a summary by Monsanto and further misrepresented by the FDA in the journal Science. In 1990, the FDA claimed that a study of rBGH on rats showed that it "is not orally active in rats." The FDA recented admitted to an Associated Press reporter that they did not examine the data of that study. The Canadian scientists examined the data and found that the 20-30% of the rats had primary antibody responses to orally ingested rBGH. This shows that rBGH (which differs from natural BGH) was absorbed. The male rats developed cysts and had prostate gland effects." [ ]

What is particularly reprehensible is that Monsanto has reportedly threatended companies with lawsuits if they label their milk as being "rBGH-free"! This means that children at school have no way to tell if they milk was produced by the use of rBGH. They appear to be trying to prevent people from making up their own minds about what to ingest! Currently, most people can avoid rBGH-dairy by purchasing certified organic milk and other dairy products at the local health food store. While it may be slightly more expensive, it will likely save money on medical bills in the long run.

Other resources for rBGH information on the Internet: