Bill Harris, M.D. | Q&A

What is the relationship between milk and breast

Q&A with Bill Harris, M.D.

Q. I'm a freelance journalist working on an article about the positive and negative aspects of milk. I read your pages on breast cancer statistics but had a hard time understanding them with my limited medical background. I'm trying to gather some perspectives for my article, and I wonder if you could take the time to reply to a few questions. If you can, here they are:

What is the relationship between milk and breast cancer?

A. Dear Allison,

The dairy industry would claim that milk is protective against breast cancer, citing a recent study from Norway. However, there are a number of other studies implicating IGF (insulin-like growth factor) in milk as a tumor promoter in humans.

I found dairy consumption to have a lower correlation with breast cancer than animal source Calories in general:

Breast Cancer Statistics

Cancer and the Vegetarian Diet

What are other negative aspects of cow's milk?

The proteins in cow's milk are highly allergenic and have been implicated in infant colic, eczema, otitis media, and insulin dependent diabetes.

What are positive aspects, if any?

Cow's milk has lots of calcium on a calcium/weight basis. However, if one sorts the USDA nutrient database by calcium/Calorie, the first dairy product doesn't appear until ~ 46 after numerous leafy green vegetables.

Do you recommend drinking cow's milk for any reason?


Do you have other comments to add?

I didn't find out how allergic I am to milk until I switched from lacto-vegetarian to vegan in 1964, at which time my allergies cleared up and I stopped catching cold six times a year. On several occasions since then I have accidentally consumed dairy products and the allergies returned immediately, the colds following within three days.

Is there anything else I should be asking?

Where do all the nutrients essential to humans originate? Ans: In the plants the cow ate. All animal foods are second hand nutrition.


-William Harris, M.D.

William Harris MD received a degree in physics from the University of California Berkeley, where he earned Phi Beta Kappa honors. He received his degree in medicine from the University of California at San Francisco, and received his postgraduate training at San Diego County Hospital. He holds a Medical License in the State of Hawaii. He has been an Emergency Department physican since 1963, and the Director of the Kaiser Permanente Vegan Lifestyle Clinic on Oahu until his retirement in 1998. Dr. Harris is the author of The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism.

In addition, he was the 1950 Big Ten Trampoline Champion, is an accomplished hangglider and commercial pilot, and at age 70 became a skydiver with 108 jumps to date. Dr. Harris has been vegetarian since 1950, and vegan since 1963.

Printer-friendly Version