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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 23:45 GMT 00:45 UK
Milk drinking protects health
Milk bottles
Milk drinking is shown to have health benefits
Drinking milk regularly does not cause coronary artery problems and can actually protect against poor health, say scientists.

There had been concerns that too much milk and dairy products could be harmful to health as it leads to high cholesterol levels.

And researchers had linked milk drinking to breast cancer.

Our study does seem to show that a bit of what you like does seem to do you good

Dr Andy Ness, Bristol University
But the Bristol University study revealed that even drinking full fat milk, more common a couple of decades ago, was not linked to an increase in deaths from coronary heart disease.

In fact heart disease death rates among regular milk drinkers were even found to be lower.

Report author Dr Andy Ness, a senior lecturer at Bristol University, said his research could not find any health problems associated with moderate milk consumption.

"People have been discouraged from drinking milk, but we cannot find a link between this and heart problems.

Moderate consumption

"We are not talking about people who are drinking pints and pints of milk, but a moderate consumption of about a third of a pint a day.

"Our study does seem to show that a bit of what you like does seem to do you good," he said.

But Dr Ness said low fat and skimmed milk is still generally considered better for health than full fat milk.

The 25-year study of 5,700 Scottish men found that heart disease death rates among men drinking more than a third of a pint of milk each day were 8% lower than those who drank less.

Deaths from cancer and strokes were 10% lower among the regular milk drinkers.

The research team said the benefits of milk could be linked to its high calcium levels and that this might counteract the adverse effects of the saturated fat content of milk.


They also found that those who drank milk in childhood tended to be healthier than those who did not.

Regular milk drinkers were also found to smoke less than others.

But a spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation said they wanted to see more research done on the effects of milk on health.

"Recently there have been conflicting research results regarding the effects of milk in our diet.

Milk is beneficial. It is not a good idea to cut out dairy products

Anita Wells, Dairy Council
"Until further randomised controlled trials can be conducted milk should still be included as part of a healthy balanced diet, but reducing saturated fat through drinking skimmed or semi-skimmed milk may help reduce the risks of heart disease."

Anita Wells, nutrition manager for the Dairy Council, said the study validated what they had been telling people for years.

"Milk is beneficial. It is not a good idea to cut out dairy products.

"We are encouraged by these findings which are adding to a body of evidence, which says that you should have three portions of dairy food in your diet each day."

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