Milk might not protect our bones after all

We’re told from an early age that we need calcium to keep our bones strong and that milk is one of the best ways to get it.

But it turns out, drinking tons of the stuff doesn’t prevent fractures at all. In fact, the opposite could be true. As the BBC reports, a team from Uppsala University in Sweden surveyed 61,400 women and 45,300 men about their diets over the course of a year and then followed up with them for several years afterward.

Their data from a 20 year period shows that women who drank more than three glasses of milk a day were more likely to break bones. They also had a 50% chance of a hip fracture and –oh yes, almost forgot – doubled their risk of dying by the end of the study. (The trend was similar for men but not to the same extent.) It’s good news for yoghurt eaters, though, who had a lowered risk of fractures and death, perhaps because it’s fermented while milk contains a lot of sugar.

However, the researchers, who’ve just published their findings in the British Medical Journal, said that this doesn’t necessarily mean milk consumption causes more breakages, as they didn’t rule out other variables, like alcohol consumption, amount of exercise taken, and any other health issues.

Until they know more, they recommend not cutting dairy out of your diet entirely, but consuming it in moderation. Given that low calcium levels are linked to osteoporosis, it might also be worth looking into other sources of the mineral. (Sardine and cabbage sarnie, anyone?)

Image via  liz west’s Flickr.

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Diane Shipley