7 Signs You Should Stop Drinking Milk Immediately

Dairy can make for a confusing topic. The dairy industry's "Got Milk?" campaigns made us believe for a long time that milk is the best source of calcium for strong bones. But in reality, there is a pile of research actually proving that milk actually might not be that good for you.

In 2014, the medical journal The BMJ released a study on over 61,000 women; those who drank a lot of milk were at a much higher risk for fracturing their bones and even dying than those who consumed less. Studies have shown that there is a strong connection between Type 1 diabetes and children under the age of 14 drinking milk. And as if that weren't enough, women between the ages 26-46 who consume high amounts of dairy are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

That's all pretty scary, but there are other more common reasons why many people turn away dairy. Currently, there are 40 million people in the United States who are lactose intolerant, and there may be many more who have no idea they have the condition. You could be one of them. If you've been noticing some weird physical reactions after every bowl of cereal you polish off, don't ignore them any longer.

Here are seven signs you should stop drinking milk immediately.

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1. You Feel Bloated After You Drink Milk


Lactose is the main sugar in milk, and in order for it to be properly processed in your body, you need to own an enzyme called lactase. Babies have no problem in the lactase department; infants have plenty of it because they need it to digest the milk they're getting all their nutrition from.

However, as we get older, we produce less and less lactase because we don't need milk anymore. This makes it extremely difficult for the digestive system to break down cow's milk the same way, which is what causes that bloated belly. Your stomach may protrude over your belt buckle and potentially be hard to the touch. This symptom only takes as little as 30 minutes to show up after you've downed a glass of milk — and it's way more common than you think. An estimated 98 percent of Southeast Asians, 90 percent of Asian-Americans, 74 percent of Native-Americans, 70 percent of African-Americans, and the majority of Jewish, Latino, and Indian people all suffer from lactose intolerance.

2. Milk Gives You A Stomachache


Aches and pains in your stomach generally go hand in hand with bloating. Without enough lactase in your small intestine, the milk isn't absorbed properly into your body, causing everything to get jammed up, so to speak. You could experience dull aches, grumbling noises, and nausea. Some people even report feeling sharp pains or cramping in their abdominal region within a couple hours after drinking milk.

3. You Have A Lot Of Gas


When lactose doesn't get broken down like it should, undigested sugars get trapped in your colon. Then, they ferment — and not in a good way. You might hear funny gurgling sounds from your stomach that eventually lead to an unpleasant flatulence problem. Having to fart a lot obviously isn't that big of a deal, but it definitely isn't fun to deal with, and it may be a warning sign that more is to come. Which brings us to...

4. You Often Have Diarrhea That Lasts For More Than A Couple Days


By the time you get here, you've probably already been dealing with a bloated belly and gas pains, so loose stool isn't that big of a surprise. Remember, you should only worry if this post-milk diarrhea is a common occurrence, not if you just experienced it once or twice. Also, it should concern you if it's the kind of diarrhea that sticks around for a few days.

In many lactose intolerance cases, you'll find that not all dairy products necessarily lead to reactions like this. You may find that it's just the milk, and not cheese or cream, that is causing the diarrhea. But in order to test it out, you'll have to wipe all dairy from your diet at first, and then slowly incorporate a few products one at a time.

5. You Break Out In Hives


Dealing with itchy skin shortly after drinking milk is more likely to be correlated with a milk allergy rather than a lactose intolerance. Although milk allergies are more common in children, they do occur in adults. Research from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine suggests that kids are taking longer to outgrow milk allergies than ever before, so it's becoming more likely that it follows them into adulthood.

A milk allergy happens when the immune system doesn't react well to dairy and it begins to treat milk as a foreign substance. When it passes through your digestive system, one of the most common symptoms is that you break out in hives on various parts of the body.

6. You Have A Strong History Of Cancer In Your Family


OK, so maybe you don't have to stop immediately in this case, but it is definitely something to consider urgently. The connections between dairy and cancer are undeniable. Your risk for developing breast cancer is significantly raised if you're a heavy milk drinker. The hormone in milk called IGF-1 has been linked to several other cancers as well, including colon, prostate, and lung, because it causes cancerous cells to grow and multiply at a rapid rate.

The British Journal of Cancer recently published a study following nearly 23,000 participants in Sweden. All individuals were lactose intolerant, and their minimal consumption of milk and dairy products proved to put them at less of a risk of contracting breast, lung, and ovary cancer. And in 2006, Harvard researchers published the results of a meta study that looked at 100,000 women aged 26 to 46. Those who had the highest intake of meat and dairy products also had the highest risk of breast cancer (33 percent more than those who consumed the least). For men, over 20 studies have established a strong link between prostate cancer and milk consumption.

If you have watched family members battle cancer, or you know that it runs in your family, now's a good time to put that glass of milk down. You want to avoid increasing your risk for cancer at all costs.

7. Your Skin Is Breaking Out


The same hormone IGF-1 that increases your risk for cancer isn't so great for your skin either. IGF-1 has been linked to inflammation, which can lead to redness, swelling, and zits on your skin. In general, dairy is known to cause excess production of sebum oil, a leading cause of acne flare-ups and clogged pores. One particular study showed that teenage boys who drank milk were much more likely to break out on a regular basis compared to those who didn't.

If you've been dealing with acne for a while, and you and your dermatologist have tried many different methods to reduce it, all in vain, it might be time to consider kissing cow's milk goodbye. You can at least give it a shot. The worst that can happen is your skin stays the same. But there might be glowing skin awaiting you and your milk-free life.

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