The carcinogen hiding in your {cow, coconut, rice, almond, soy} milk

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Carrageenan in store-bought milk

If you buy {cow, coconut, rice, almond, soy} milk from the grocery store, you may be purchasing a product with a potential carcinogen in it: carrageenan. Oh, you buy organic? Well it still might be in there.

Carrageenan is a substance that is extracted from red seaweed (so naturally-derived) and widely used in the food industry for its thickening and stabilizing properties. It is most commonly used in milk and milk products including non-dairy milk alternatives such as coconut, rice, soy, and almond milk.


Carrageenan is one of the additives that has been ushered through the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) technical review process in the scandal that has been referred to as the “Organic Watergate.” In essence, it really should not have been approved for use in organic food (or any food!) but due to corporate pressure, now appears in many brands of “organic” as well as non-organic milk and milk-alternative products.

So why shouldn’t carrageenan be in our food? As much as 25% of the carregeenan on the market is characterized as “degraded.” Furthermore, all carrageenan can degrade in the body, in the gastrointestinal tract and liver, where it causes serious inflammation and intestinal abnormalities. These side effects are well-known among the scientific community as carrageenan is given to lab animals to produce inflammatory symptoms in order to test anti-inflammatory drugs. What’s more, degraded carrageenan is also a potential carcinogen. In fact, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Research Council of the United States have deemed carrageenan to be a carcinogen.

What can you do? If you are a cow milk drinker, the best option is buying raw milk from a local farmer you trust and who does not use hormones or antibiotics. Living in the city, I get my raw milk from a local co-op that gets a bi-weekly shipment from Lancaster, PA. If you prefer non-dairy alternatives, consider making your own almond milk or coconut milk (click here to get the recipe). Otherwise, check out Cornucopia Institute’s Shopping Guide to Avoiding Organic Foods with Carrageenan to find a store-bight milk without carrageenan.

Picture 12

Source: Cornucopia Institute.


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  1. Nadia,

    Thank you for this wonderful article about carrageenan. I now look for it in all my purchases. I was startled to find it in ice cream as well as many other items. I’ve made a like to your page on our website for women with cancer. Please feel free to contact us if you write any more articles on cancer related subjects.

  2. Thank you for this pile of information on carrageenan. What about other inflammation inducing additives in our daily food..? And by the way, the computer’s screen is also quite “unhealthy” with this constant bright screen we must look at when reading…HJow to prevent damage to our vision?? Lutheine only or are there other supplements that can come to help our eyes…?

    Thanks. Jacques

  3. I just bought a few cartons of almond milk. Can carrageenan be filtered out of this? If it’s a thickener, wouldn’t a good filter paper catch it?

  4. I’m just looking into the new meds. I was prescribed
    I’ve had a severe stomach ache ever since
    starting them. I’m also allergic to All fish product
    When I realized carrageenan was a filler it
    Opened my eyes to the reason I had soooo
    Many stomach aches. I certainly wish there
    Was a way to STOP the use of the POISON!!

  5. Raw milk, for those who don’t know, is unpasteurized milk. It’s milk taken direct from the cow to you with no processing in between. Unless you know the farmer well and know what he feeds his cows, you may be getting other unwanted things in your milk, and drinking unpasteurized milk can have other risks. But even if you want to drink this, in most states it’s illegal to sell so you can’t even get it unless you raise your own cow.

    Carrageenan, which apparently was approved because it’s considered ‘natural’, since it’s derived from seaweed, has become prevalent everywhere. There is virtually no dairy product other than milk itself that doesn’t contain it. Even if it wasn’t carcinogenic (which I don’t know if it is or isn’t), it still causes gastrointestinal problems for many people who, like me, have become sensitive to it. I can no longer eat anything with carrageenan in it without suffering hours of severe stomach cramps afterward. This has taken heavy cream, eggnog, buttermilk, ice cream, and chocolate milk, all of which I love, completely out of my diet in the past year. All because there is not a brand of any of these products to be found in my local grocery stores without it. Even most substitutes such as soy milk (which was the original product that started my stomach problems) contain this stuff. I now have to look into making my own ice cream and eggnog at home, as well as buttermilk and heavy cream substitutes made from milk and half-and-half (which luckily is still carrageenan-free). I wish we could go back to whatever they were using before carrageenan, because it didn’t make me sick!

    Now, if only I could find pasteurized eggs for my eggnog….

  6. Good article. My wife and I have eliminated dairy and grain fed beef from our diet. I’m currently reading ” never fear cancer again ” by Raymond Francis. It has lots of info on what foods To avoid and why. Regards Paul.