Whey Protein Dangers

Are there whey protein dangers you should be aware of before including whey in your diet?

As with any supplement, it should be taken in moderation. A healthy diet should include a variety of different foods, including many different protein rich foods that contain nutrients which are not available from whey protein.

Many studies have shown the health benefits of taking high-quality whey protein. However, despite the many advantages, there are some whey protein dangers to be aware of.


This is likely the biggest whey protein danger.

Even though artificial sweeteners are approved for use in food, there is mounting evidence concerning health risks. Aspartame, sold under the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, Equal-Measure, is notoriously known to be associated with a large number of negative side effects yet is still used as a sugar substitute.

Aspartame releases methyl alcohol or methanol into the blood stream within a few hours of ingesting. The methanol (commonly called wood alcohol) then passes into your blood-brain barrier and is converted into formaldehyde which causes damage. Formaldehyde is an embalming fluid and not something you want circulating through your body. Interestingly, methanol is only toxic in humans. All other animals are able to detoxify it before it causes damage.

Another popular sweetener is sucralose (splenda). Sucralose is sold as a sugar substitute known as Splenda and is 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Sucralose is a synthetic compound, which is basically sugar that has been modified by adding chlorine atoms. The sweetener has been implicated as the cause of many side effects, but nothing has been substantiated.

Other sweeteners such as Saccharin and Cyclamate have been banned in Canada and other countries.

If you are concerned about the sweeteners, purchase unflavoured or whey products only containing natural sugars.

Too much Protein

For the body to process protein, vitamin A and other fat soluable vitamins are required. A diet too high in protein without adequate fat depletes vitamin A stores leading other health problems. Too much protein can also cause a calcium imbalance, where more calcium is loss than is taken in, leading to bone loss and nervous system disorders.


A few high-quality undenatured whey protein products contain less than 1% lactose which should not cause any ill effect even in the most severe case of lactose intolerance. However, since all whey protein products are not created equal, the percent of lactose will vary. Some products include active enzines to help in digestion. Try different products or decrease the quantity to find one that works for you.

Milk Allergies

Note: Lactose intolerance is NOT a milk allergy

Because whey protein is a milk protein, persons who are mildly allergic to milk proteins may experience minor gastric distress from whey protein. This gastric distress usually disappears if you reduce the dose. Persons with serious milk-protein allergies, which is very rare, should not take whey protein.

Liver & Kidney Stress

Both the liver and kidney have roles in metabolizing protein. Some medical experts believe that continuous high consumption of protein can cause unnecessary stress on these organs which may trigger liver or kidney malfunction in healthy individuals.

If you have an existing liver or kidney problem, eating (or drinking) large amounts of protein can worsen your current condition.

Detoxifying the Body

Undenatured whey protein increases serum and liver glutathione levels. When liver glutathione levels rise, the liver is able to more effectively detoxify the body (which is beneficial). However, people who have been exposed to high levels of environmental toxins may have a mild temporary reaction as toxins are removed from the body. The reaction usually subside once the toxin have been flushed. Continued exposure to the environmental toxins is not good.

Drug Interactions

Certain drugs have negative interactions when taken with whey protein. These include drugs such as biphosphonates (Fosamax), fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro), Levodopa medicines, and tetracyclines (Vibramycin). Whey protein interferes with the action of these drugs. If you are taking medication, be sure to get your doctor’s advice on whey protein supplements.

Transplant Patients

Anyone who has had an organ transplant and is receiving immunosuppressant therapy should not take undenatured whey protein unless approved by their physician or health care professional. The immune system needs to be suppressed in order to prevent organ rejection, and undenatured whey protein may counteract immunosuppressant medicines such as cyclosporin®.

Contaminated Product

Although a rare whey protein dangers, product has been pulled due to contamination during the production process. A more common issue is the inclusion of substances banded by competitive sports anti-doping organizations. Another issue is the use of non-organic milk containing antibiotics and hormones which ultimately make their way into the whey protein.

Consumer Report July 2010 Article indicated the most popular brands of whey protein in the US had high concentrations of heavy metals including lead, arsenic, and cadmium. Click this link for FDA recalls.


There are whey protein dangers that you need to be aware of when selecting a whey product. Purchasing an undenatured, organic whey product free of antibiotics and growth hormones avoids most of the dangers.

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