Yet another blow against the milk-industrial complex

Even more evidence that the milk emperor has no clothes. “Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies“:

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.

The researchers took two huge groups of Swedes, one with more than 61,000 women and the other with more than 45,000 men, and followed them for an average of 20 years. They wanted to see if milk intake was related to fractures or to death.

Cause, you know, milk is awesome for bones! Except there’s pretty much no evidence for that. It also turns out that there’s a growing concern that excessive milk intake could be related to bad cardiovascular outcomes. So what did they find?

Women who had three or more glasses of milk a day had an increased risk of death compared to those who drank less than one glass a day (hazard ratio 1.9). You read that right. Increased risk of death. For every glass of milk drunk per day, the hazard ratio of death went up 1.15 in women and 1.03 in men.


But what about fractures? In men, no difference was seen anywhere. In women, it turns out that for each glass of milk drunk the hazard ratio was 1.09 (higher!) for hip fractures. It was 1.02 overall, but the 95% CI was 1.0-1.04, so potentially non-significant.

So the best we can say is that milk was not associated with any benefits in men with respect to fractures, and a higher risk of hip fractures in women. Oh, and it’s associated with an increased mortality in everyone.

The paper also gets into some biomarkers to try and explain the mechanism for why milk might be harmful. I’ll leave that to more basic-science experts. My point is this: the purported benefits of milk are unproven. There’s a growing body of evidence that there’s an association between more milk consumption and bad outcomes.

Why does milk get a pass? Why do we push it so hard? Once again, watch this:


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