Science - November 27, 2010

Drink your milk: still good advice

In a 1960s Dutch advertising campaign for milk, cartoon character ‘Joris Threepints’ sang the praises of ‘the white motor’. The dietary claims made then for three glasses of milk a day are supported by recent Wageningen research.

According to research by university lecturer Sabita Soedamah-Muthu at the Human Nutrition department of Wageningen University, milk really is very good for you. Three glasses of milk proved to correlate with an 18 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, she reports in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 'There were some quite contradictory results on the health effects of milk in the literature', says Soedemah. 'Sometimes a beneficial relation with cardiovascular disease emerged, sometimes a negative one, and sometimes none at all.'

Life-threatening diseases
To obtain a clearer picture of the role of milk in the incidence of public health threat number one, Soedamah ploughed through more than 5,000 articles over the course of one and a half years. Eventually she found data from four different studies suitable for her research on the relation between cardiovascular diseases and milk intake. The University of Harvard provided some of the dairy data, from American studies. 'We could combine the various studies by converting the milk intake of all the subjects into grams per day', Soedamah explains. With impressive results. Drinking a glass of milk a day appeared to correlate with a 6 percent reduction in the chances of developing heart disease. Soedamah: 'We could demonstrate the positive effect of milk for up to three glasses her day, when the risk of cardiovascular diseases is 18% lower.'