Milk drinkers at no increased risk of coronary heart disease

Milk, coronary heart disease and mortality 2001; 55: 379-82

Regular milk drinkers do not seem to be at increased risk of coronary artery disease, shows research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. If anything, the research indicates, milk drinking seems to protect against ill health.

The researchers monitored over 5700 men aged between 35 and 64 for 25 years. The men were recruited from several workplaces in the west of Scotland between 1970 and 1973.

Information was collected on their health and lifestyle, as well as social and economic factors. Each of the men was given a full physical examination and asked to provide details of their milk consumption. Just over half of the men drank more than a third of a pint (0.57 litres) a day; 46 per cent drank less than a third of a pint daily. The remainder drank over a pint of milk a day.

Of the 2350 deaths recorded over 25 years, 892 were attributed to coronary artery disease. Taking confounding factors into consideration, death from heart disease was 8 per cent lower among men who drank more than a third of a pint of milk every day compared with those who drank less than a third of a pint. Furthermore, death from all causes, including cancer and stroke, was 10 per cent lower.

The authors offer several explanations for their findings. They suggest that the calcium found in milk might counteract the predicted adverse effects of the saturated fat content. Milk drinking may also be a marker for a healthier childhood, they say, as those who drank little or no milk tended to be shorter, an indicator of deprivation. Regular milk drinkers also smoked less.

'Our data do not support the notion that regular consumption of milk is hazardous to health,' conclude the authors.

Contact: BMA Press Office
BMJ Specialty Journals

Page: 1

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