Our ad was intended to call attention to the link between milk consumption and prostate cancer and to encourage others to take steps to minimize their risk of the disease.
Scientists now believe that milk consumption is a major risk factor for prostate cancer. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, 11 separate human population studies have tied dairy consumption to prostate cancer. Results of the landmark Physicians’ Health Study of 20,885 doctors showed that men who consumed at least 2 1/2 servings of dairy “products” (about a bowl of ice cream) daily were about 30 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than men who averaged less than half a serving a day. The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study found that men who consumed high amounts of dairy products had a 70 percent increased risk of prostate cancer.
Because PETA doesn’t have the multimillion-dollar advertising budget of the dairy industry, we have to rely on attention-grabbing means to get the word out. Putting a public figure like Mayor Giuliani (who has spoken very publicly about his cancer and has promoted dairy on television) on a billboard drew more attention to the issue than an anonymous face ever would have. The widespread media interest in the ad—including coverage by The Today Show, MSNBC, CNN, Fox National News, and every major U.S. newspaper, as well as more than 50 radio interviews—allowed us to tell people about the downside of dairy, something that, until then, many people had heard little about.
Many of us here at PETA have lost loved ones to cancer; in fact, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk’s father had prostate cancer when he died. We wish someone had warned them how many cancer deaths are linked to diet—two-thirds, according to the U.S. surgeon general—back before they started on the nutritional paths that ultimately took their lives. Mayor Giuliani’s illness has a chance of alerting others and becoming a life-saving experience. After all, 180,000 more men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and more than 30,000 of them will die from it. They and their families deserve to have the facts.