Cohort study on milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures has limitations

IOF urges caution in interpretation of the results of recent observational study; calcium from all dairy sources is important to bone health.

An observational research study published by the Department of Surgical Sciences at Uppsala University in Sweden, and published in the BMJ, has raised fears that drinking three glasses of milk a day doesn’t reduce the risk of suffering a fracture and may even increase risk of an early death.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Chair of the IOF Committee of National Societies, stated

The study, as acknowledged by the authors themselves, has several limitations. This is an observational study with possibility of confounding factors inherent to this kind of design. The method used to assess diet is weak, particularly because the effects of total energy intake, BMI, physical activity and other lifestyle habits is not taken into account when assessing effect on fracture risk and overall mortality. The study was carried out in Sweden where all milk is fortified with vitamin A – a factor which is not addressed by the study. More robust research is needed in order to clarify whether the main findings can be attributed to other factors rather than to milk consumption.”

IOF encourages people of all ages to ensure their calcium intake reaches recommended levels as this is essential for the development and maintenance of bone and muscle health. It has been shown that calcium (Ca) intake of less than 400mg per day is a risk factor for osteoporosis. A healthy well-balanced diet rich in calcium and protein is just one aspect of bone health - along with physical activity and avoidance of negative lifestyle factors such as smoking and excessive drinking. Dairy-based foods – whether milk, yoghurt, or cheese –  provide a readily accessible source of calcium in the diet. People who enjoy drinking milk should not discontinue doing so on the basis of this observational study.

Statement from the National Osteoporosis Society (UK)

Study in the BMJ

LYB logoThis article appeared in our monthly Love Your Bones newsletter sent to IOF members.

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