Pushing cow’s milk is a just-plain-crazy idea for any mayor to pursue, let alone someone presiding over a 60 percent African-American populace, with substantial numbers of Hispanics and Asian-Americans, too (“Milky Fray,” 5/4). Granted, a big-city mayor must keep track of and act on many matters, but can Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams really be so unaware of what’s wrong with dairy?

An estimated 70 percent of adult African-Americans are lactose-intolerant. Ditto for more than half of Hispanics, 95 percent of Asian-Americans, and 15 percent of Caucasians. Translated, that means milk makes them sick with such nasty symptoms as nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.

But it gets much worse. Milk has been identified as a significant risk factor in heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. Amazingly, it may indeed even contribute to osteoporosis, the very disease the dairy industry incessantly touts milk-drinking as protection against. For instance, as 1997 results from the Harvard Nurses Health Study documented, heavy milk-drinkers suffer bone fractures at double the rate of light milk-drinkers and non-milk-drinkers.

Like the health-destroying tobacco industry, the dairy industry packs lots of political clout. However, as a registered dietitian, I urge Williams and his health advisers to nonetheless show the courage to do the right thing by Washingtonians: become well-informed about dairy’s litany of problems and speak out for a healthy diet, free of dairy products.

Baltimore