Milk, Mortality and Fracture Prevention

Surprisingly, high milk consumption in adults does not appear to offer fracture-prevention benefits. Among women, a new cohort study has found, this risk appears to increase. The study also has found a link between high milk consumption in adults and increased mortality. The observational study was published in October in the online British Medical Journal.

In Sweden, over 60,000 women (aged 39-74) and 45,000 men (aged 45-79) completed food-frequency questionnaires and were followed for a median of 22 and 13 years, respectively.

During follow-up, roughly 25% of participants died, most often from cardiovascular disease or cancer. After multivariable adjustment, women who reported drinking three or more glasses of milk daily had a near doubling of risk for total mortality relative to those who drank less than a glass daily. Men drinking three or more glasses daily had a smaller, but still significant, increase in mortality.

And as noted above, the study found that among women, high milk consumption was also associated with increased risk for any fracture, including hip fracture.

The study authors point out that D-galactose, a monosaccharide sugar found in milk, has been shown to induce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation in animals. These changes have long been associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, bone loss, and the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass in humans. Still, the authors call for independent replication of their findings before sweeping dietary recommendations are formed. It's important to note that the study looked at the adult population, a very different population from children when it comes to dietary needs in particular.

Alternatives
When recipes call for milk, unsweetened soy or almond milk is an easy substitute.

Many of soy’s health benefits have been linked to isoflavones—plant compounds that mimic estrogen. But animal studies suggest that eating large amounts of those estrogenic compounds might reduce fertility in women, trigger premature puberty, and disrupt development of fetuses and children.

This concern is theoretical presently because it is based only on rodent studies, but if you are pregnant or nursing consult your doctor before adding significantly high amounts of soy-based foods to your diet. Likewise, do remember that young children have different developmental needs and consult your pediatrician regarding recommended soy intake.

Although most studies looking at the hormone-disrupting properties of genistein (the main isoflavone in soy) are those that look only at rodents, many scientists—including a few at the National Institutes of Health—believe the findings may be relevant to humans as well.

In part by virtue of its tastelessness, silken tofu is a highly versatile ingredient when creaminess is called for. It takes on the flavor of anything it’s combined with, whether tangy or sweet.

The below recipe for dairy-free cream is simple, healthy and rich. There are just 107 calories and 5.3 grams of (unsaturated) fat per cup:

Soy Cream
Makes 1 cup of “cream”

4 oz silken tofu
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
(equal parts tofu and milk)

Blend the soy milk and drained silken tofu in a food processor until it is very smooth. Refrigerate or use right away. For heavier cream, add more tofu; for thinner cream, less. 

BMJ, 2014, 349: g6015, http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g6015

Running & FitNews, July/August 2011, “Faking Fats with Savory Substitutes,” by Jeff Venables

Milestone Sports, Ltd., 2014, www.milestonepod.com

iriver Inc., 2014, www.iriverinc.com

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