A new study by Dr. Gary Steinman shows that women who drink milk are 5 times more likely to have twins than women who don’t eat or drink any animal products.
The study compared the number of twins born to women who ate a regular diet, vegetarians (who do consume dairy products), and vegans (no animal products).
Gary Steinman believes that levels of IGF (insulin-like growth factor) may be involved. IGF is released from the liver in response to growth hormone. It results in ovaries being more sensitive to follicle stimulating hormone – which increases ovulation.
Since IGF enters milk, including cow’s milk, this may be why milk drinkers have a greater chance of having twins. Vegans have a 13% lower level of IGF in their blood.
Some women just naturally have higher levels of IGF. Black women have higher rates of twin births and they also have higher levels of IGF in their blood. Asian women tend to have much lower IGF levels and also the lowest rate of twin births. Caucasian women have levels some where in between.
Also, in cows, genes that influence the chance of having twins are near the gene for IGF.
Possible explanations for the number of twins has increased in the last 30 years include fertility treatments, women delaying pregnancy and hormones fed to cows.
Gary Steinman works at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York and this study appears in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, in the May 2006 issue.
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