Wednesday Bubble: Got symptoms? Got milk? An udder disaster…

Posted by on Jul 13, 2011 in depression, emotions, humour, menopause | 6 comments

Got milk?!

Milk is being touted as the next best thing, that is, when it comes to hormonal symptoms. In fact, a new campaign sponsored by the California Milk Processor Board centers around the claim that milk can help reduce the symptoms of PMS.  offers global gauges of PMS symptoms, packaged apologies for men who feel victimized by PMS and even analyzes or verifies their mistakes so that they can avoid them during the next cycle. In a piece about the marketing effort in the Washington Post, Executive Director of the California Milk Processor Board, Steve James, is quoted as saying that the strategy is to “disarm the situation surrounding PMS and its effects,” both for women and individuals around them who are suffering from their mood swings and other symptoms.

Say what?!!!

Is this advertising for milk or a drug claim?

According to the website, the claims about milk are derived from a review that appeared in the year 2000 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. In the review, the authors discuss the potential links between altered calcium balance and affective disorders, such as depression and anxiety.  Because women with PMS reportedly have calcium fluctuations that interfere with hormonal balance, some researchers have hypothesized that this imbalance can lead to both mood and other features of PMS. In these studies, however, participants obtained their calcium through supplements and not through dietary means; this enabled the researchers to control and standardize intakes (which averaged as much as 1300 mg calcium daily). Translated into daily milk consumption, this means that a person would have to drink more than 4, 8 oz glasses of milk daily to achieve the level of calcium used in clinical studies.

Honestly, do you know anyone over the age of “tween” who consumes that much milk?

Regardless of the studies cited, the claims about milk are exaggerated and  inconclusive. Many of the studies were poorly designed or relied upon recall. However, one has to wonder if the milk-PMS claims will set off a cascade of others that stretch to the other end of the hormonal spectrum –menopause — where too much calcium is believed to be too much of a good thing: although calcium may offer protection against osteoporosis, it may also increase the risk for heart disease in some women.

Let’s get away from the hard science for a moment and take a closer look at the campaign. The inference:

  • Women: your PMS causes undue suffering to people around you, especially your male partners
  • Men: humor the woman in your life. If you want to save your relationship, friendship, partnership, etc, create a photo with puppy eyes, film a video apology or better yet, make fun of her. Oh, and have her drink milk.

Don’t know about you but this one is so absurd it may not even be bubble-worthy. Hey California Milk Processor Board – you may want to add a few women to your marketing team. This one’s an udder disaster.

Hat tip to Reuters Health Executive Editor, Ivan Oransky for the campaign heads up. (I tried to milk it Ivan – how’d I do?!!)


  1. 7-13-2011

    Well, I drink about three gallons of milk a week and I still get PMS. So here is your focus group of one telling the study to bite me.

    • 7-13-2011

      LOL Gini! In scientific circles, that’s called ‘n=1.’ But I’ll take it!

  2. 7-13-2011

    “a review that appeared in 2000 in the year 2000” hmm?

    • 7-13-2011

      Thanks for the catch Brandy. Happens to the best of us, no?

  3. 7-13-2011

    Yeah. Definitely with you here. Because there are 3 issues, really, the 2 you’ve named and the global mis-perception about PMS. I heard a fairly well-educated man once say “Women are cranky the week before their period, the week after and the week during. It’s a perversion of the word normal.”

    Nuts. From PMS to the end of my cycle takes 5 days and only one of them, every few months, do I have bad enough of a hormonal imbalance that I occasionally let my emotions get the better of me, AND I get hyper-sensitive rather than bitchy. PMS varies from woman to woman and patronizing reactions to it don’t help the situation, they make it worse.

    I was with a guy a few years ago who was actually so afraid that he just didn’t speak to women during their cycles. He tracked their cycles, and just avoided them. Wow. How does a person like that get married? Have employees? Daughters?

    Stuff like this, and the fact that it could survive to see the light of day sends the message to me that, though this is meant in humor, it’s considered funny because of the grain of truth that men just don’t get it. I’m not one to generalize but this crap gives me less hope in humanity in general, not more.

  4. 7-13-2011

    So as an adult woman with late-onset severe cow’s milk protein allergy, I must be a veritable harpy one week out of the month? I guess I should just be glad the soymilk and almondmilk industries haven’t jumped on this absurd ad bandwagon?

    Just sayin’, It’s the chocolate that positively affects the mood, not calcium.

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