There have been quite a few studies on the effects of milk and what it does to the body.
But the most recent study about one of the world’s most frequently consumed beverages might change how people drink it and where they get it from.
This is because the study revealed potential contaminants in cow’s milk can have severely crippling affects on our brains. The researchers indicated these contaminants are likely to produce Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder affecting the sensitive neural tissue in our brains.
The scientists also believe the chemical make up of milk might also be responsible for producing Parkinson’s but need more research in hand before they can make that conclusion.
According to Time Magazine the study was the result of researcher Robert Abbott of Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan and his team researching a scandal that took place in Hawaii back in the 1980s.
At the time, an organochlorine pesticide used by pineapple farmers made its way into the milk supply when cows were fed a gruel made in part from the pineapple debris. Coincidentally, there was also a study of heart disease among Japanese-American men begun then that involved more than 8,000 men who were followed from mid-life to death. All provided detailed information about what they ate, including how much milk they drank, and some agreed to donate their brains for research upon death.
The team took 449 brains from the deceased and observed what neuron density was like in their brains. While studying the areas that were known to be affected by the progression of Parkinson’s they noticed those who had the thinnest connection of neurons were also the ones who drank in excess of two cups of milk a day. They also observed these men had observable residue of the same pesticide that made its way into the milk supply.
Interestingly, by measuring when cells in motor nerve regions died, they also learned that the accumulation of heptachlor epoxide occurred before the cells were damaged, strongly hinting that the chemical was responsible for triggering the changes associated with Parkinson’s.
Unfortunately the team was never able to access samples of the milk the men drank and because of that they cant rule conclusively it was the milk itself that caused the onset of this deadly disease. Abbot said, “We don’t have all the data yet, but we are close to finding the smoking gun here…It’s not complete, but it’s very suspicious.”
And though the pesticide is no longer in uses in the U.S. there still remains a significant amount trapped in soil and water.
Samples of the pesticide have also been found as far away as Italy and have been found in Goat’s milk in Ethiopia.
The data certainly don’t mean that anyone who drinks several cups of milk a day is putting themselves at risk of developing Parkinson’s. What it does mean is that diet and lifestyle risk factors should be considered more deeply. “This adds to the literature that diet may indeed play a role in Parkinson’s,” says Abbott. “But it also tells us that there is more to food than just its nutritional value. There’s contamination, and what’s on that food.”