Are you lactose intolerant? If so, it looks like you’ve dodged a bullet: according to this study, high milk consumption (more than one glass a day) is associated with a higher risk of mortality in both men and women. The data come from a large study that took place in Sweden in the ’80s and ’90s. One of the main results is that each daily glass of milk increases risk of death in both men and women and, contrary to popular belief, actually increases the risk of bone fractures in women. The authors caution that these associations could be affected by confounders and reverse causation (e.g., women who were already at a high risk of bone fractures tend to drink more milk). But even so, I think I’ll stick to my almond milk, just in case.
“Objective: To examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in women and men.
Design: Cohort studies.
Setting: Three counties in central Sweden.
Participants: Two large Swedish cohorts, one with 61 433 women (39-74 years at baseline 1987-90) and one with 45 339 men (45-79 years at baseline 1997), were administered food frequency questionnaires. The women responded to a second food frequency questionnaire in 1997.
Main outcome measure: Multivariable survival models were applied to determine the association between milk consumption and time to mortality or fracture.
Results: During a mean follow-up of 20.1 years, 15 541 women died and 17 252 had a fracture, of whom 4259 had a hip fracture. In the male cohort with a mean follow-up of 11.2 years, 10 112 men died and 5066 had a fracture, with 1166 hip fracture cases. 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 (95% confidence interval 1.80 to 2.06). For every glass of milk, the adjusted hazard ratio of all cause mortality was 1.15 (1.13 to 1.17) in women and 1.03 (1.01 to 1.04) in men. For every glass of milk in women no reduction was observed in fracture risk with higher milk consumption for any fracture (1.02, 1.00 to 1.04) or for hip fracture (1.09, 1.05 to 1.13). The corresponding adjusted hazard ratios in men were 1.01 (0.99 to 1.03) and 1.03 (0.99 to 1.07). In subsamples of two additional cohorts, one in males and one in females, 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).
Conclusions: High milk intake was associated with higher mortality in one cohort of women and in another cohort of men, and with higher fracture incidence in women. Given the observational study designs with the inherent possibility of residual confounding and reverse causation phenomena, a cautious interpretation of the results is recommended.”