Jan 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:24 AM EST

High Milk-Intake Linked With Increased Death and Bone Fracture

Oct 29, 2014 03:30 PM EDT


Over the years, milk consumption has sparked numerous debates, concurring and dissenting opinions, as to its "true" health benefits. The recent study conducted by Sweden's Uppsala University provides shocking results that may put dairy products in a bad light. The study found a correlation between high milk consumption, bone fracture risk, and increased death occurrences.

In a report by Star Tribune some time in March this year, federal data revealed that U.S consumption of milk has declined over the years, with 2011 and 2012 seeing the highest drop in more than a decade. It said that milk drinking by both kids and adults has declined during prime-time.

The report might have saddened a number of milk faithful who believe that milk is packed with nutrients such as Calcium, proteins, and Vitamin D that are essential to health. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a daily dose of 3 cups of dairy for good health and stronger bones. Whether the drop in milk consumption is good or bad news depends on the results of the studies about it.

The new study, published in the British Medical Journal, revealed that drinking more than one and a half pints (0.709 liter) of milk a day could increase the risk of early death. Researchers observed the high levels of lactose and galactose sugar in milk could have led to a negative effect in one's health.

The study surveyed more than 100,000 men and women for more than 20 years. In the study, 61,433 women (aged 39 to 74) and 45,339 men (aged 45 to 79) in Sweden were asked about their diets, surveying their consumption of 96 common foods including milk, yoghurt and cheese.

Results showed that women who drank more than three glasses of milk a day were found to have a higher risk of death than women who drank less than one glass. Also, higher milk consumption was not associated with a reduction in fracture risk.

The men showed similar results between high milk consumption and higher risk of death.

However, the findings also revealed that those who heavily consumed fermented milk products with low lactose content such as yoghurt and cheese had reduced rates of mortality and fracture, particularly in women.

Although the study is particularly limited to only presenting a pattern among heavy milk drinkers, and number of deaths among these milk drinkers. Further investigation was undertaken to determine whether milk was associated with oxidative stress and inflammation.

The authors of the study said in a press release, "Our results may question the validity of recommendations to consume high amounts of milk to prevent fragility fractures. The results should, however, be interpreted cautiously given the observational design of our study. The findings merit independent replication before they can be used for dietary recommendations." 

Meanwhile, Professor Mary Schooling at City University of New York explained that the results of the study should be interpreted cautiously. "As milk consumption may rise globally with economic development and increasing consumption of animal source foods, the role of milk and mortality needs to be established definitively now," she said.

So, while we might not want to totally eliminate milk in our diet, we may prefer to drink the much healthier dairy products with low lactose content like yoghurt. Or we may want to lower our daily milk intake to maybe one glass a day? 

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