Does Milk Do a Body Good?

Did You Know…that drinking the recommended three glasses a day of milk might not be doing you that much good?

The dairy industry and even the United States Department of Agriculture set forth milk as the optimal safeguard against bone fractures and osteoporosis.  By official guidelines, Americans are advised to consume at least three cups of milk a day to maintain strong bones.

Scientific evidence, however, tells a much grimmer tale.  In fact, recent studies show that not only does milk not protect against fractures, but also it can actually increase your risk for fractures!

Science Paints a Different Story 

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows how milk fails to build strong bones.  The study was a meta-analysis of six studies that included more than 200,000 participants… and it found no link between milk consumption and reduced risk for fractures in middle-aged and older adults.

A more recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics followed 100,000 people over two decades.  Participants reported how much milk they drank as teens, and then researchers tracked their incidence of hip fractures later in life.  Guess what they found?  No association between drinking milk and lower rates of fractures!

An October 2014 study published in BJM included 45,000 men and 61,000 women ages 39 and up… and it confirmed that drinking milk as an adult did not protect men from fractures.  In fact, it increased the women’s risk for fractures.  Even more alarming, milk consumption correlated with a higher risk of death in both men and women!


What About Calcium & Vitamin D?

Calcium fares no better when analyzed outside of milk.  A 2007 meta-analysis examined a series of studies that tested calcium intake and fracture risk.  More than 200,000 men and women between the ages of 34 and 79 showed no link between calcium intake and reduced risk of bone fractures.  These studies also tested calcium intake from supplements and likewise found no protective benefit.  In fact, they pointed to a possible increased risk for bone fractures!
Milk is often fortified with vitamin D, another bone-enhancing nutrient.  However, a recent study published in Lancet found that while vitamin D did offer improvement in bone density at the top of the thighbone, it failed to improve bone density in the spine, hips, or forearms.  In addition, it showed no effect on bone mineral density overall.

Milk and Cancer 

Another concern related to milk consumption is its correlation with higher cancer risk.  According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, “Cancer researchers have been looking into links between milk drinking and cancer risk for many years.  A review published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research in 1997 found that cancer risk paralleled milk consumption in numerous studies.”

The Bottom Line 

Ultimately, the fact that diet has a profound influence on every aspect of our health is now well understood and indisputably proven.  What we eat can even affect our genes and the genes of future generations.  The dairy industry has told us that we need milk to build strong bones and a healthy body, but the science, as you can see, suggests otherwise.