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As reported in a May 9 article in The Lancet, women with a relatively small increase in blood levels of the naturally occurring growth hormone Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-1) are up to seven times more likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer than women with lower levels. Based on those results, the report concluded that the risks of elevated IGF-1 blood levels are among the leading known risk factors for breast cancer, and are exceeded only by a strong family history or unusual mammographic abnormalities. Apart from breast cancer, an accompanying editorial warned that elevated IGF-1 levels are also associated with greater than any known risk factors for other major cancers, particularly colon and prostate.
This latest evidence is not unexpected. Higher rates of breast, besides colon, cancer have been reported in patients with gigantism (acromegaly) who have high IGF-1 blood levels. Other studies have also shown that administration of IGF-1 to elderly female primates causes marked breast enlargement and proliferation of breast tissue, that IGF-1 is a potent stimulator of human breast cells in tissue culture, that it blocks the programmed self-destruction of breast cancer cells, and enhances their growth and invasiveness.
These various reports, however, appear surprisingly unaware of the fact that the entire U.S. population is now exposed to high levels of IGF-1 in dairy products. In February 1995, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of unlabelled milk from cows injected with Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBGH, to increase milk production. As detailed in a January 1996 report in the prestigious International Journal of Health Services, rBGH milk differs from natural milk chemically, nutritionally, pharmacologically and immunologically, besides being contaminated with pus and antibiotics resulting from mastitis induced by the biotech hormone. More critically, rBGH milk is supercharged with high levels of abnormally potent IGF-1, up 10 times the levels in natural milk and over 10 times more potent. IGF-1 resists pasteurization, digestion by stomach enzymes, and is well absorbed across the intestinal wall. Still unpublished
1987 Monsanto tests, disclosed by FDA in summary form in 1990, revealed that statistically significant growth stimulating effects were induced in organs of adult rats by feeding IGF-1 at low dose levels for only two weeks. Drinking rBGH milk would thus be expected to significantly increase IGF-1 blood levels and consequently to increase risks of developing breast cancer and promoting its invasiveness.
Faced with escalating rates of breast, besides colon, prostate and other avoidable cancers, FDA should withdraw its approval of rBGH milk, whose sale benefits only Monsanto while posing major public health risks for the entire U.S. population. A Congressional investigation of FDA's abdication of responsibility is well overdue.
Source: Cancer Prevention Coalition
Contact: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago, and Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, 312-996-2297