Kota Kinabalu: Taking milk even from infancy or childhood does not prevent osteoporosis, a medical condition in which the bones become weak and brittle from loss of tissue as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or Vitamin D.Associate Professor Dr Ho Gwo Fuang of University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) and University Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC) stressed this when dispelling the misconception that drinking milk prevents osteoporosis.
Speaking at the recent Rotary Healthcare Day gathering, he clarified : “Generally, people believe that we must start taking milk as an infant right through childhood and adulthood to avoid osteoporosis. That we have to be careful, we need to clear that point. That’s wrong.”Drinking milk is not the way to prevent osteoporosis. Rather, osteoporosis can be prevented by reducing animal protein intake in the diet as a whole. Taking more fruit and vegetables is recommended because it makes your diet more alkaline. That will prevent osteoporosis.”
What is the rationale for that? Dr Ho, who is a Consultant Clinical Oncologist, said this is because animal protein acidifies the body pH.”Animal protein has an acidifying effect because it contains a lot of sulphur and phosphorous which, when consumed, becomes sulphuric acid and phosphoric acid in the blood. And this in turn makes the body acidic.
“Your body pH level is the most tightly regulated item in the body. A pH scale measures how acidic or basic (alkaline) a substance is, and it ranges from 0 to 14. It cannot be lower than 7.35 and neither can it exceed 7.45.”Therefore, when you consume a lot of sulphur and phosphorus, your body turns acidic. Whenever the value of a pH is less than 7.35, it is considered acidic. And when its value is greater than 7.45, it is considered basic or alkaline,” he explained.
To neutralise the acidity, we need to consume a lot of fruit and vegetables, Dr Ho advised, saying plants are alkaline (but not all plants).”But the problem is that if you just take animal protein continuously, then your body becomes too acidic. The body cannot allow that, so what happens? It needs to ‘borrow’ some calcium by taking it out of your bones to neutralise the acidity.
“This natural process depletes the calcium from your bones, which means calcium loss is increased over the years with increased consumption of meat,” he pointed out, adding that calcium is an excellent acid neutraliser. “So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilised to neutralise the acidifying effect of meat.”
Quoting statistics, Dr Ho said there seemed to be a higher incidence of osteoporosis in people who do drink milk than those who don’t drink milk.”For instance, in Europe where there is ample supply of milk, people tend to get osteoporosis. In contrast, the people of Congo don’t drink milk but they don’t get this medical condition.”So it is a fallacy to say that drinking milk from childhood is a solution to the problem of osteoporosis,” he contended.
Asked why doctors haven’t told us about this, the associate professor said : “You don’t hear that from traditional medical teaching because not many people know about it. In fact, it has been ignored in medical school also.” When asked by health-conscious women whether it is too late to drink milk at their age – in the fifties or sixties, he said : “No, it isn’t. Although osteoporosis or whatever may have already set in, you drink milk to get the calcium and Vitamin D.”
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that increasing intake of calcium and Vitamin D could reduce the risk of developing cancer in women by at least 60pc.Studies in the US also found that people who drank at least at least one 250ml glass of milk a day were 15pc less likely to get colorectal cancer than people who drank almost none.
Also present were the District Governor of Rotary International District 3310, Hj Andre Suharto, Assistant Governor K.P. Lu, incoming District Governor Philip Chong, and Event Organising Chairman, Francis Chan.