Debuting this morning, the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB)’s “Everything I Do Is Wrong” campaign features humorous depictions of men whose lives are apparently made miserable by their womenfolks’ premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
One shows a man clutching two cartons of milk, cowering under the headline, “I’m sorry I listened to what you said and not what you meant.” Another reads, “I apologize for not reading between the RIGHT lines.” There’s also a Web site — Everything I Do is Wrong.org — and a social-media campaign, plus, in California only, billboards, radio and print ads.
The campaign features the statement, “Milk can reduce the symptoms of PMS.” Steve James, executive director of the CMPB (best known for its “Got Milk?” campaign), says the new effort is meant to “immediately disarm the situation” surrounding PMS and its effects, not only on women who suffer from it but also the people around them. “It’s a serious topic and a serious condition,” James says. “But the nature of the humor” is such that “people can laugh right off the bat.” The campaign, he says, is “almost like a public service, providing tools and abilities to talk about” PMS.
But Connie Bohon, an ob-gyn in private practice in Washington, D.C., says that the statement linking milk to reduction of PMS symptoms is “soft,” in that research hasn’t established a clear link between the two. One study published in 1998 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology — and sponsored by SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, makers of calcium-supplying TUMS — found that women who consumed 1,500 milligrams of calcium via supplements experienced nearly a 50 percent reduction in such PMS symptoms as negative affect, water retention, food cravings and pain. (That effect took several menstrual cycles to take hold.) Another study found a reduction in risk of having PMS symptoms (that’s different from a reduction in the symptoms themselves) among women who ate calcium-rich foods and milk.
Bohon says that while “there are some beliefs that calcium can improve PMS symptoms, I don’t know that it’s universally accepted” that it can do so. Nor is it clear whether the body responds the same way to calcium supplements as to calcium supplied by food. Still, women who experience PMS symptoms and who wish to avoid medications to relieve them may turn to milk, mostly as a mood stabilizer, Bohon says. She says she recommends that women who go that route “do it in conjunction with exercise,” another mood booster.
The statement about milk and PMS may be, as Bohon puts it, “soft.” But, she says, “I think it doesn’t do any harm.”
For his part, James maintains that “it’s the calcium” that does the job, “and milk is a prime source, and a highly digestible source, of calcium.”
“That line [linking milk to PMS symptom reduction] may or may not please some people in the parsing of it,” James acknowledges. “But in the gist of it, we feel we are on solid ground.”