A reader sent me a link to a Consumer Health Digest article titled Eight Reasons Why Eating Cheese Is Harmful For Health. After I finished laughing at the utter nonsense, I decided the article is a perfect example of what’s wrong with media health reporting. Let’s take a look. (By the way, I changed the quote style with a bit of help from some PHP-savvy readers. Hope it works better on those tablets and whatnot.)
1. Cheese can Contain Bacteria Transferred from the Cows It Comes From
Although it can be a little weird to think about, cheese is a byproduct of cows.
Boy, that is weird. I thought it came from cheese trees. If it comes from cows, I’m going to stop putting cheese on my burgers. I only eat non-cow foods.
Made from cow’s milk, cheese can contain anything stuff that the cow it came from had in its system –including synthetic hormones and bacteria.
I don’t know what “anything stuff” is, but as for cheese containing whatever the cow had in its system, I’m pretty sure we can say that about any animal food.
It has long been suspected that synthetic hormones and bacteria transferred from cows to humans contribute to health problems, including memory and mood problems along with infections.
It’s long been suspected, eh? Well, that’s all the scientific proof I need.
2. Cheese is Really, Really Fattening
To many people, cheese seems like a healthy food. People on diets often eat cheese as a “light” snack to get the dairy in for the day. Unfortunately, cheese wrecks diets. Full of saturated fat, cheese instigates weight gain. The body also tends to digest cheese in such a way that it turns into stubborn, hard to lose fat.
I see. So if we check the research, we’ll find that people who eat full-fat dairy products are consistently fatter than people who don’t – because of that saturated fat that instigates weight gain and turns into stubborn, hard to lose fat. Let’s dig into the study files … ah, got one. It’s a meta-analysis of 16 studies. Here’s the conclusion:
In 11 of 16 studies, high-fat dairy intake was inversely associated with measures of adiposity.
That would mean people who ate full-fat dairy are thinner, not fatter. Back to the Consumer Health Digest article:
Apart from causing weight gain, saturated fat is also known for wreaking havoc in the cardiovascular system. It can significantly influence cholesterol levels as well, which can be a bad for a person’s health.
I could swear I just saw a study about dairy fat and cardiovascular disease … oh, now I remember! That was the topic of my previous post. Researchers measured biomarkers of dairy-fat consumption in a population of more than 3,000 people and compared that to rates of heart disease. To quote from my quote from an article about the study:
What they found is that the dairy intake of people who had heart attacks was not statistically different than the intake of people who did not. After breaking people into quintiles, based on their dairy consumption amount, there was no significant linear relationship between consumption and heart risk, even among the most voracious consumers.
Even the “most voracious” consumers of dairy fats didn’t have higher rates of heart disease. That was the study that had the researchers fumbling for an explanation … such as perhaps there’s some protective substance in dairy foods that offsets the effects of the saturated fat.
3. Cheese is Very Salty
Another nutrient cheeses are often full of is sodium. Though necessary to the body, sodium is often consumed in excess. Regular consumption of cheese can increase the amount of sodium a person eats drastically. Unfortunately, the excess sodium can cause several health issues, including:
High blood pressure
Stiff Blood Vessels
Stroke and Heart Attack
4. Cheese Can Contribute to Cardiovascular Issues
As a result of the high-fat nature of many kinds of cheese, eating cheese regularly can significantly contribute to obesity and thus to cardiovascular issues. Add in the amount of sodium that most cheeses contain and it’s clear that cheese can really be terrible for heart health.
Uh … uh … I know eight reasons sounds more impressive than seven reasons, but didn’t you just cite obesity and heart disease as reasons to avoid cheese up there in reason number two? You’re just as wrong now as you were a few paragraphs ago.
5. Cheese Making Can Be Considered Inhumane
Many kinds of cheese are manufactured with rennet. This is made by taking an enzyme from the lining of a calves’ stomach. Unfortunately, the calves must be very young when the enzyme is harvested. As a result, cheese making in some regions and processes involves the slaughter of young calves.
Holy crap! Next you’ll be telling me hamburger-making involve the slaughter of cattle.
6. Cheese Can Ruin Your Diet
On top of being really fattening, cheese can be a complete diet-wrecker because it is commonly paired with other carbohydrate-rich foods.
Well, that’s it, then. From now on, I’m only buying low-carb cheese.
Generally served with bread, crackers, and other “heavy” carb dishes, cheese often contributes to packing on the pounds.
I see. Cheese is fattening because it’s paired with “heavy” carb dishes like bread and crackers. If only it were somehow possible to eat cheese without all those carbs. When I see Dana Carpender on the cruise, I’ll ask if she can dream up a recipe or two. Maybe she can point me to a kitchen utensil that slices the bread and other carbs off the cheese.
7. Cheese Can Contain Mold Secretly
One of the hidden dangers of cheese is mold. Sure, some people eat moldy cheese as a delicacy. Many people also just cut moldy chunks off of cheese wedges and choose to eat the rest. However, mold can be hiding in the cheese and be invisible to the naked eye.
I looked up “foods that contain mold.” Here’s a partial list: pickles, relishes, green olives, vinegar, mustard, sour cream, beer, sauerkraut, smoked meats, canned tomatoes and dried fruits. So yes, if you want a mold-free diet, you should avoid all those foods. And the cheese too.
8. Cheese Can Make You More Susceptible to Cancer
Some people have suggested that cheese, along with meat, might be bad for people’s heath as a cigarette. Studies on the topic have revealed that the consumption of excessive protein, as occurs when people eat a large and consistent amount of cheese and meat, is risked to links of cancer and to shorter lifespans.
The writer’s source for that last statement is the observational study Dean Ornish was touting awhile back. High-protein diets were associated with higher mortality … but only for people under age 65. After the age of 65 (this is the part Ornish chose to ignore), high-protein diets were associated with a longer lifespan and lower rates of heart disease and cancer.
So if we’re going to believe observational studies prove cause and effect, we have to believe that meat and cheese cause cancer up to age 65, then prevent it after age 65. I’m 57 now, so I only have to hang on for eight more years. And I will … partly because I know better than to listen to media health writers.
The amount of protein a person should eat from cheese is also related to their age, indicating that cheese can be consumed in moderation at any age, but should be limited during many stages of life as well.
If anyone can make sense of that last sentence, please tell me what it’s supposed to tell me.