Can too much dairy be dangerous? People worldwide have always been under the assumption that regular consumption of milk has health benefits. In the past, doctors have claimed that milk, which contains a high amount of calcium, can help strengthen bones. It was even thought to help to fend off Osteoporosis, an irreversible disease where bones lose their density and are more prone to fracture easily. However, a study published in the BMJ Medical Journal on Oct. 28, suggests that a large consumption of milk can actually be unhealthy. The findings link high consumption to a greater risk of death.
The study observed 61,000 women between the ages of 39 to 74, as well as 45,000 men between the ages of 45 to 79. The men and women were chosen based on dietary questionnaires they had previously filled out for other health related research projects. The women were examined for roughly 20 years, and the men for 11 years. Men and women who participated in the extensive survey were asked to give certain details about their lifestyles, such as how often they smoke and drank, whether or not exercise was a part of their routine, and any changes in weight. The women were observed in the 1980s and the men in 1997. The study focused only on milk, but some question whether other dairy products might also be dangerous.
While the leaders of the study made a point to say that further research is definitely needed, the results of the study have brought up the question about how much milk is too much milk. Results have also brought up the question as to what is actually the healthy intake of milk, or if there are any health benefits at all.
When researches ended the study they learned that out of the large group of volunteers, 25,500 had passed away, and 22,000 had experienced a break or fracture. The study did not find a correlation between higher consumption of dairy milk with a low risk of fracture, but shockingly, it might actually be associated with a higher death rate. Though again, leaders of the research team and authors of the study are stating that this find may be purely coincidental and further research is needed to find out if too much dairy can indeed be dangerous. A study that links greater milk consumption to a higher risk of death does not prove causation.
Women with a higher consumption of dairy milk, roughly three or more glasses a day, reportedly had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. The risk for them was nearly doubled compared to women who drank one glass of milk per day or none at all. In addition, the women who drank three glasses or more daily had a 44 percent higher risk of developing cancer. When researchers compared at the amount of consumption of milk with the rate and number of fractures in women, they found that a higher intake of milk appeared to actually increase the chance of broken ones. The risk of experiencing a break was far less severe in those who did not drink milk on a daily basis. The risk of breaking a hip increased a whopping 60 percent in the women who drank three or more glasses a day, as well as 16 percent for other fractures.
The results with the group of men were far less severe. The findings of the study showed that men who drank three or more glasses of milk had a ten percent increased risk of premature death. Karl Michaelsson, who was the lead author of the study as well as a professor at Uppsala University located in Sweden, claimed that even though they will research the matter further, the current results are enough for him to lower his own intake of milk.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics however, claims that the results need further examining before there is a need to make changes in the nutritional guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines for the United States still recommend three servings of dairy products daily for health benefits. Now that a new study links high milk consumption to a greater risk of death, more exploration is needed to replicate the results and confirm that too much dairy can be dangerous .
By: Rebecca Savastio