Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Will Dairy Prolong or Shorten Life?

Most people would have the impression that consumption of high volume of dairy products would have a higher chance of getting heart disease. This is because dairy products are always considered as sources of artery-clogging cholesterol.

A study by researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research argued that calcium-rich dairy products consumed during childhood might in some cases prolong one’s life. The findings were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on July 28, 2009.

The study, which took a long period of 65 years following a 1930’s survey of more than 1,300 families in England and Scotland, showed that diet that was high in milk, cheese and butter did not actually lead to a higher rate of cardiovascular disease. Their report also indicated that children with the largest intake of calcium from dairy enjoyed a lower death rate from strokes.

It is believed among some experts that heart disease risk factors start from childhood. Some of them even argued that diet rich in high fat content dairy products during childhood would contribute to heart disease later in life. However, there is no conclusive evidence to show whether dairy consumption at early ages would help or hurt.

A total of 4,374 people (in more than 1,300 families), who participated as children in the late 1930s’ study of food consumption, were followed up. By 2005, it was found that 34 percent of them (or 1,468 individuals) had died, of which 378 from coronary heart disease and 121 from strokes.

The researchers could not find any evidence showing relationship between intake of dairy products and either of the 2 causes of death. Instead, they discovered that children consuming calcium-rich milk and milk-derived products had a lower rate of death by stroke. Moreover, they also found that children having diets rich in dairy or calcium were linked to lower all-cause mortality in adulthood.

Nevertheless, the researchers did suggest that further studies are necessary to confirm the findings that might result partly because of other factors like income levels and occupation.

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