50+ health * Healthy living

Milk can 'lead to longer life'

got milk? Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke

Milk's image as a health food has changed dramatically over the last 40 years. Once seen as a vital component of a healthy diet, it is now more likely to be stigmatized as a source of fat and cause of allergies.

Now for the first time the status of milk as a health food has been analysed in terms of the overall costs and benefits of drinking milk.

Scientists from the Universities of Reading, Cardiff and Bristol reviewed over 300 studies of milk drinking as it relates to heart disease and diabetes. They also looked at the World Cancer Research report into milk and cancer. These findings were then compared with current death rates from all these conditions.

Results of the study

According to the study, milk does not increase the risk of contracting any of the conditions reviewed, other than prostate cancer. There was strong evidence that milk reduced the risks of all other conditions, by as much as 15-20%.

Study leader Professor Ian Givens of the University of Reading commented: "Our findings clearly show that when the numbers of deaths from CHD, stroke and colo-rectal cancer were taken into account, there is strong evidence of an overall reduction in the risk of dying from these chronic diseases due to milk consumption."

He added: "Put together, there is convincing overall evidence that milk consumption is associated with an increase in survival in Western communities.”

The scientists also suggest that milk consumption can lower healthcare costs due to the reduction in chronic disease.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

This article was published on Thu 23 July 2009

Image © Marin Conic - Fotolia.com

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