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As a physician well-acquainted with D.C.’s serious health woes, having practiced in and around the city for many years, I cannot make sense of Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ health-care policies. Certainly, his continuing zest for closing or “privatizing” D.C. General Hospital threatens to further imperil the health of thousands of Washington’s neediest citizens.
Moreover, recently the mayor has struck up an unhealthy partnership with the dairy industry, which entails his posing for chocolate-milk-mustache photos and promoting dairy this month at a milk-mustache mobile event during the National Zoo’s annual kid-oriented “Guppy Gala” (“Milky Fray,” 5/4; City Lights, 5/11). From a nutritional standpoint, the mayor’s mustache is a disaster. In a city with a three-fifths African-American population, plus many Hispanics and Asian-Americans, it’s preposterous. Huge numbers of racial minority individuals are lactose-intolerantnature’s gastrointestinal warning not to “do dairy.” But far more ominously, medical research has catalogued the links between cow’s milk and many serious health problems, from asthma and colic to diabetes, heart disease, and prostate and breast cancer.
In addition, dairy-cow manure often befouls the streams and lakes from which we draw the water we use to drink, cook, and wash. And though the dairy industry lags somewhat behind the pig, chicken, and turkey industries in converting to industrial-scale megafarms, it’s definitely moving in that direction.
In other areas, Williams has been a breath of fresh air for this troubled city, but his support of the dairy industry is a sad step backward for public health.
Silver Spring, Md.