Is Dairy Addiction Real? Here’s what science says

Dairy Addiction is one idea toted not only as a notion, but as a fact by a significant number of vegans, especially ones that do not link to any reliable source (if any at all) to provide any evidence to the conclusion they have reached. So I decided that I will take it upon myself to find out whether or not the scientific literature agrees with this.

First things first though, WHY do these people believe that Dairy products are addictive? Well, YUM Universe, a known vegetarian blog, sums it up like this:

The answer is casomorphins—protein fragments, derived from the digestion of the milk protein, Casein. The distinguishing characteristic of casomorphins is that they have an opioid effect. ”

Casomorphins, or in the case of milk, Beta-Casomorphins, are indeed a form of opioid found in milk. And yes, Opioids are addictive, so that must mean milk is addictive and we can just close this case, right? Well… not quite.

One study of milks effects on rats published in 1981 called Opioid Effects of Beta-Casomorphines mentioned that they found “none of the peptides displayed opioid activity.” This is not the only study either, as another study published in 1994 which focused entirely on this idea of the addictive qualities of milk named “An Assessment of the Addiction Potential of the Opioid Associated with Milk” concluded with the line “Ingestion of milk products containing β-casomorphin is not likely to become the focus of an addiction.”

This is not even the last of it, as there is even a case report of a woman in Germany who drank 4-5 liters of milk a day. The report wanted to know if the woman’s consumption of such high quantities of milk was pathological. It concluded that based on the fact that the woman did not have any withdrawal symptoms in the absence of milk that Milk drinking in this patient did not have the characteristic physiological, behavioral and cognitive phenomena associated with dependence and nondependence producing substances.”

Opioid containing foods go far beyond casomorphins as well, as there is Gluten Exorphin in wheat, Soymorphin in soy, and even Rubiscolin found in spinach. I see no argument that spinach and tofu is addictive by anybodies standards ever.

Now am I saying that dairy products are NOT addictive? Of course not, they certainly are in a sense, but this is not due to casomorphins. Milk is a high fat food, and as any nutritionist knows, foods high in fat, sugar, and salt can be addictive the same way drugs are. This was actually a survival mechanism in the past, as since food scarcity was an issue, it was better to consume foods that were higher in essential nutrients needed for our survival, such as fatty, sweet, and salty foods.

But this is not a milk-only issue. You can easily state this for any other high-fat, sweet, or salty foods, including avocados, fried lettuce, mangoes, nuts, juices, vinegar, and anything you add salt to. Literally ANY food that is sweet, fatty, or salty has the potential to be addicting, which is why these three food types are such an issue to anybody suffering from Binge Eating Disorder, otherwise known as a Food Addiction.

Tons of food can be addictive, but I can safely say that casomorphin, or food opioids at all, do not play any role in that.

15 thoughts on “Is Dairy Addiction Real? Here’s what science says

  1. Pingback: Medical Mythology: Dairy Addiction - That Nerdy Science Girl

  2. zuluVEGAN

    “Tons of food can be addictive, but I can safely say that casomorphin, or food opioids at all, do not play any role in that.”

    Utter crappy bs article wrote by a diary addicted for a meat/milk advertised site

  3. Nancy P

    The studies of casomorphines in milk were done on rats not humans. These studies cannot be considered a valid scientific evaluation of cow's milk on human bodies.

  4. Kyle Matthews

    The phenomenon is very real or I wouldnt be scouring the internet trying to figure out why the hell I am addicted to milk.

  5. TiShma

    Great sources you've build your tower upon. The 1994 research was commissioned by the American Dairy Science Association. What did you expect that an organization that " is an international organization of educators, scientists, and industry representatives who are committed to advancing the dairy industry and keenly aware of the vital role the dairy sciences play in fulfilling the economic, nutritive, and health requirements of the world's population" will promote and publicized? Let's get real – they are paying to find something, otherwise they will never publish it.
    And the other paper from 1981 doesn't exactly say what you wrote. It did find the lowest effects on the rat model, yet the other 2 mediums did show effects. And after all it IS a rat model – and what they find in rats might be different from hamsters might be different from dogs and we're all but a big bipedal rats, aren't we?
    The case report included, besides being anecdotal, tells us the patient noted she didn't have craving yet her behavior was bound to relieving her weakness (several times a day!). It sounds the same as a smoker saying he's not craving for a smoke, but he has to relieve his stress and anxiety so he smokes. A junky is a junky, and the report concludes she didn't change her ways (that is, she never tried quit her exaggerated drinking behavior, just noted – like a smoker – that she probably could stop if she wanted to, yet she doesn't want to).

    Instead of sticking with 3 bad or biased sources (I have found several others commissioned by the ADSA with the same wanted results), you could scan for other and newer research. Though Casomorphine is NOT morphine or as addictive, it does show analgesic effects (also on rats!) and just like the woman in the case-report – or a smoker – this relieving feeling can cause us to "crave" for more, and realize if it's missing. Be it mental addiction rather than physiological still makes people miss their dairy reliefs.

  6. Helen

    I drink about 3 liters of milk a day and I do experience withdrawal symptoms if I am deprived of milk. I can't focus, have trouble sleeping, think obsessively about milk, get anxious or agitated and sometimes even lash out at people. When I was little I drank so much milk my mother lied to me about having any milk left to get me to stop asking my mom also says that when I'm home from school she goes through several gallons a week as opposed to when I'm away and a single gallon lasts a week. I should mention that I come from a family of people with addictive personalities, I am blood related to 10 alcholics and addicts.

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