Dairy Is Worse Than Coca-Cola, Says Leading Longevity Expert

Dr Michael Greger spoke about the health impacts of dairy with Chris Evans on the Virgin Radio Breakfast Show


3 Minutes Read

Vegan doctor Dr Michael Greger Dr Michael Greger is a proponent of plant-based eating - Media Credit: Instagram/Doctor Michael Greger

Leading longevity expert Dr Michael Greger has explained why Coca-Cola is preferable to dairy milk in a new interview. 

The renowned plant-based physician was appearing on Chris Evans’ Virgin Radio Breakfast Show to discuss his new book, How Not To Age. The book is described as a “scientific approach to getting healthier as you get older.” In it, Dr Greger discusses the wide ranging benefits of healthy plant-based foods, as well as the issues of animal foods.

Referencing some “fun headlines” from the book, Evans asked Dr Greger if Coca Cola is “good for you.” To this, Dr Greger laughed and said: “only compared to dairy milk, for example, in terms of IGF-1, this pro-aging hormone.” (He then made very clear that Coca Cola was not in any way healthy in a general sense…).

IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) is a hormone involved in the normal growth and development of body tissues. It assists the body’s transition from childhood to adulthood, and is necessary for growth. Studies have shown, however, that high levels of IGF-1 can increase risk of several types of cancers. 

IGF-1 and dairy

In the interview with Evans, Dr Greger appeared to be referencing a 2009 study that looked at the short term effects of replacing milk with cola beverages on IGF-1. The study followed a group of men aged 22-29 over two 10-day periods. In one period, they drank 2.5 liters of Coca Cola a day. In the other, they drank the same amount of semi-skimmed milk. The participants had higher levels of IGF-1 in the milk period. 

Consuming dairy milk has been found by multiple studies to raise levels of IGF-1 in the blood. Dr Greger has previously gone into more detail about the issues with IGF-1, saying: “When you’re a kid extra growth is good, but when you’re an adult extra growth can mean a tumor.”

He went on to say that levels of IGF-1 go up when you’re a child, then come down again. Having high levels as an adult increases the risk of both prostate and breast cancers, as it helps tumors to grow, and cancer cells to break off from the tumor, migrate in surrounding tissues, and invade the blood stream. “IGF-1 is a growth hormone that makes things grow, that’s what it does. But too much growth when we’re grown up can mean cancer,” he said. 

A woman drinking a glass of milk
Adobe Stock Consumption of dairy milk has been linked to health issues

Dr Greger has also previously stated that  “A plant-based diet and a regular exercise routine may reduce our IGF-1 levels in less than two weeks

Who is Dr Greger?

Dr Greger is a hugely well-respected physician and nutrition expert. He is the owner of Nutritionfacts.org, a free resource containing science-based information on food and diets. Prior to How Not To Age, he wrote and How Not To Die (2015) and How Not To Diet (2019). 

He is well-known in the vegan community for his advocacy for plant-based eating. He has previously described animal-free diets as a “one-stop shop” against chronic diseases.

Watch more from Dr Greger below:

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