Category Archives: Dairy

Milk Intake Linked To More Fractures And Earlier Death In Large Swedish Cohorts

MilkCereal2Remember the post where I wondered If Milk Builds Strong Bones, Why Do People In Countries Who Consume The Most Have Higher Fracture Rates? I posted two maps, one of global milk consumption, another of global hip fracture rates. They clearly show a link between high milk consumption and increased bone fractures, as contradictory as that sounds. But my post wasn’t scientific. It was just raw, unadjusted data. Who knows if something other than milk was causing the fractures?

Well, the researchers in this next study wanted to know. They set out to examine the relationship between milk intake and fracture rates, as well as milk’s effect on mortality. Their data was adjusted for possible confounders including “age, total energy intake, body mass index, height, educational level, living alone, calcium supplementation, vitamin D supplementation, ever use of cortisone, healthy dietary pattern, physical activity, smoking status.”

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies, British Medical Journal, 28 October 2014

The researchers analyzed data from two large Swedish cohorts, one with over 61,000 women, another with over 45,000 men, during the course of 11 (for men) to 20 (for women) years.

“In women the adjusted mortality hazard ratio for three or more glasses of milk a day compared with less than one glass a day was 1.93.”

So, drinking 3 glasses of milk almost doubled women’s risk of death in that 20 years. Drinking milk also increased inflammation:

“A positive association was seen between milk intake and both urine 8-iso-PGF2α (a biomarker of oxidative stress) and serum interleukin 6 (a main inflammatory biomarker).”

They concluded:

Our results may question the validity of recommendations to consume high amounts of milk to prevent fragility fractures.”

Some numbers… Among women, they “observed a positive association between milk intake and total mortality as well as fracture, especially hip fracture”:

For each glass of milk:

  • A 15% increased risk of dying from any cause.
  • A 15% increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

For 3 or more glasses of milk compared to less than 1:

  • A 93% increased risk of death from any cause.
  • A 44% increased risk of death from cancer.
  • A 60% increased risk for hip fracture.

The mechanism they proposed for these increased risks is something I’m not familiar with … galactose. Galactose is a sugar. It’s one of the two sugars that make up the disaccharide lactose, or milk sugar. (The other is glucose.) Here’s what they say:

“A high intake of milk might, however, have undesirable effects, because milk is the main dietary source of D-galactose. Experimental evidence in several animal species indicates that chronic exposure to D-galactose is deleterious to health and the addition of D-galactose by injections or in the diet is an established animal model of aging. Even a low dose of D-galactose induces changes that resemble natural aging in animals, including shortened life span caused by oxidative stress damage, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, decreased immune response, and gene transcriptional changes. A subcutaneous dose of 100 mg/kg D-galactose accelerates senescence in mice. This is equivalent to 6-10 g in humans, corresponding to 1-2 glasses of milk. Based on a concentration of lactose in cow’s milk of approximately 5%, one glass of milk comprises about 5 g of D-galactose. The increase of oxidative stress with aging and chronic low grade inflammation is not only a pathogenetic mechanism of cardiovascular disease and cancer in humans but also a mechanism of age related bone loss and sarcopenia.”

Milk is the primary source of galactose in humans’ diet. Milk that has been fermented or exposed to the action of bacteria (e.g cheese) contains less galactose because the bacteria consume it. Low-fat milk has proportionately more galactose than full-fat milk.

The BMJ is not a fringe journal. This study had to withstand rigorous peer review before it was published. And it isn’t the first study to uncouple the supposed positive link between dairy food and bone health. People who continue to advise consumption of 3 or more servings of dairy food a day to promote strong bones and reduce fracture rates are not keeping company with science. Who are they keeping company with?


Harvard: “Dairy Food Is One Of The Most Consistent Predictors For Prostate Cancer In The Published Literature”

WolverineGotMilkI want to put that last study about dairy food and prostate cancer into perspective. It was a very new, not yet published case-control study:

Dairy Intake And Prostate Cancer Risk: Results From The California Collaborative Prostate Cancer Study, Abstract PD31-06

Data from 2953 cases and controls were analyzed. From MedPageToday:

“Compared with men who reported rarely or never drinking milk, low intake was associated with a 33% increase in the odds of advanced prostate cancer, increasing to 43% among men reporting high intake (P=0.037 for trend).”

Let’s contrast that with the findings of the Physician’s Health Study:

Dairy Products, Calcium, And Prostate Cancer Risk In The Physicians’ Health Study, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2001

It found a 34% increased risk for prostate cancer for men consuming more than 2.5 servings of dairy per day, compared with men consuming less than a half serving, and concluded:

“These results support the hypothesis that dairy products and calcium are associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer.”

Here’s an excerpt from a Harvard Health Publication on diet and prostate cancer:

“A diet high in dairy products has also been implicated as a risk factor for prostate cancer, and this relationship may have little to do with fat. In nine separate studies, the strongest and most consistent dietary factor linked with prostate cancer was high consumption of milk or dairy products. In the largest of these, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, men who drank two or more glasses of milk a day were almost twice as likely to develop advanced or metastatic (spreading) prostate cancer as those who didn’t drink milk at all.”
– Prostate Disease: Finding the Cause and Cure, a Harvard Health Publications Special Health report (2003)

Here’s a 2001 Harvard review of the body of evidence at that time on dairy intake and prostate cancer:

Dairy Products, Calcium, and Vitamin D and Risk of Prostate Cancer, Epidemiological Reviews, 2001

“Seven of 14 case-control and five of nine cohort studies have reported statistically significant positive associations between some aspect of dairy intake and prostate cancer risk. Overall, 12 of the 14 case-control studies and seven of the nine cohort studies observed a positive association for some measure of dairy products and prostate cancer; this is one of the most consistent dietary predictors for prostate cancer in the published literature.”

So, this recent study isn’t unique, it just adds to the large and growing body of evidence linking dairy food to prostate cancer. Why do you suppose this isn’t common knowledge?

Dairy Consumption And Type 2 Diabetes

DairyFood_3It is claimed that consumption of dairy food lowers risk for type 2 diabetes. The body of evidence does not support that claim. For example, this study:

Consumption of dairy products and associations with incident diabetes, CHD and mortality in the Whitehall II study, British Journal of Nutrition, February 2013

Found no relationship between dairy consumption (of any kind) and type 2 diabetes.

Few prospective studies have examined the effects of different types of dairy food on the risks of type 2 diabetes, CHD and mortality. We examined whether intakes of total dairy, high-fat dairy, low-fat dairy, milk and fermented dairy products were related to these outcomes in the Whitehall II prospective cohort study.

At baseline, dairy consumption was assessed by FFQ [Food Frequency Questionnaire] among 4526 subjects (72% men) with a mean age 56 (sd 6) years. Death certificates and medical records were used to ascertain CHD mortality and non-fatal myocardial infarction. Incident diabetes was detected by the oral glucose tolerance test or self-report. Incidence data were analysed using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for lifestyle and dietary factors.

During approximately 10 years of follow-up, 273 diabetes, 323 CHD and 237 all-cause mortality cases occurred. In multivariable models, intakes of total dairy and types of dairy products were not significantly associated with incident diabetes or CHD (all P values for trend >0·1).

In conclusion, intakes of total dairy and types of dairy products showed no consistent relationship with incident diabetes, CHD or all-cause mortality.

This was a good study … prospective (not cross-section or meta-analysis), long follow-up (10 years), large number of participants, and the relationship remained significant even after adjusting for confounders. I’ve seen that last factor (significance remaining in multivariable models) glossed over in the conclusion of other studies.

Note: Dairy consumption, however, does increase the risk for type 1 diabetes:
Significance of cow’s milk protein antibodies as risk factor for childhood IDDM: interaction with dietary cow’s milk intake and HLA-DQB1 genotype. Diabetologia, 1998

Don’t Feed Children Raw Milk

RawMilk_2Drinking milk is not all that healthful to begin with, but if I was a parent of a young child, nothing could convince me to feed her milk that was unpasteurized, i.e. raw milk.  Adults can decide whether to drink raw milk or not; children are at the mercy of their parents.

Bill Marler sent along this article:

A Mom and a Dairyman Plead: Don’t Feed Children Raw Milk, Food Safety News, 18 February 2014

It’s the story of two-year-old, Kylee, who was sickened by drinking raw milk and nearly lost her life.  The family that owned the farm that sold the raw milk also saw 4 of their 5 children sickened, one of whom developed the same severe complication as Kylee, HUS or hemolytic uremic syndrome which leads to kidney failure.

Cookson Beecher, who did a great job researching this, wrote:

“As for those who think that “knowing your farmer” is safeguard enough,  even raw-milk dairies with high sanitation standards and licensed and inspected by states that allow raw milk sales – California and Washington state are two of these – have been subject to recalls due to the presence of pathogens such as E. coli and Campylobacter in their milk.”

“The dairy farm environment is a reservoir for illness-causing germs,” CDC says. “No matter what precautions farmers take, and even if their raw milk tests come back negative, they cannot guarantee that their milk, or the products made from their milk, are free of harmful germs.” “

Kylee’s mother, Jill Brown, who ended up giving her kidney to her daughter:

“There might be some benefits of raw milk, but there are huge risks.”

People see raw milk as some kind of elixir.  There are no magic foods.

Dairy Food Prevents Fractures? It’s A Ruse.

GreensForBonesHere’s an 18-year prospective study of 72,337 postmenopausal women:

Calcium, Vitamin D, Milk Consumption, And Hip Fractures: A Prospective Study Among Postmenopausal Women, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003

It found:

  • “Total calcium intake was not associated with hip fracture risk.”
  • Milk consumption was not associated with a lower risk of hip fracture.”

And a more recent one that found no significant association between most dairy foods and hip fracture:

Milk and yogurt consumption are linked with higher bone mineral density but not with hip fracture: the Framingham Offspring Study, Archives of Osteoporosis, February 2013

Writing in JAMA Pediatrics last year (Three Daily Servings of Reduced-Fat Milk, An Evidence-Based Recommendation?), Harvard professor and pediatrician David Ludwig said:

“Humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk, an evolutionary recent addition to diet. Anatomically modern humans presumably achieved adequate nutrition for millennia before domestication of dairy animals, and many populations throughout the world today consume little or no milk for biological reasons (lactase deficiency), lack of availability, or cultural preferences.

Adequate dietary calcium for bone health, often cited as the primary rationale for high intake of milk, can be obtained from many other sources. Indeed, the recommended levels of calcium intake in the United States, based predominately on balance studies of 3 weeks or less, likely overestimate actual requirements and greatly exceed recommended intakes in the United Kingdom.

Throughout the world, bone fracture rates tend to be lower in countries that do not consume milk compared with those that do. Moreover, milk consumption does not protect against fracture in adults, according to a recent meta-analysis.”

In Milk Does A Body Good? Maybe Not Always, Harvard Doc Argues, Ludwig says people who eat a diet of leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds, get little to no added nutritional benefit from consuming dairy food, and:

“The point is, we can get plenty of calcium from a whole range of foods. … On a gram for gram basis, cooked kale has more calcium than milk.”

If Milk Builds Strong Bones, Why Do People In Countries Who Consume The Most Have Higher Fracture Rates?

Here’s a map of hip fracture rates for men and women. Legend: Red (annual incidence >250/100,000), orange (150–250/100,000), green (<150/100,000).

From: A Systematic Review Of Hip Fracture Incidence And Probability Of Fracture Worldwide, Osteoporosis International, September 2012


Here’s the map of global milk consumption I just posted:


Source: ChartsBin

If milk builds strong bones, why do people in countries who consume the most have higher fracture rates?