Is Milk Consumption Linked to Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The American Diabetes Association defined diabetes on its website (accessed Sep. 21, 2007):

"Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

There are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, who have diabetes...

Type 1 diabetes [Juvenile] Results from the body's failure to produce insulin, the hormone that 'unlocks' the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5-10% of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes."

Sep. 21, 2007 - American Diabetes Association 

Inga Thorsdottir, PhD, Chairman of the Icelandic Nutrition Council at the Public Health Institute, et al., in their 2000 study titled "Different Beta-Casein Fractions in Icelandic Versus Scandinavian Cow's Milk May Influence Diabetogenicity of Cow's Milk in Infancy and Explain Low Incidence of Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus in Iceland," published in Pediatrics:

"Breastfeeding and cow's milk consumption in infancy were similar among the IDDM [Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, aka type 1 diabetes] patients and controls, which is in accordance with some previous studies.

However, other studies have found a shorter duration of breastfeeding or an earlier consumption of cow's milk in infancy among IDDM patients than among controls, suggesting a causative relationship between cow's milk consumption and IDDM.

This relationship seems, therefore, to exist in some countries and not in others, indicating that the cow's milk itself might contain different amounts of diabetogenic [causing diabetes] factors in different countries."

2000 - Inga Thorsdottir, PhD 



PRO (yes)

Marian Rewers, MD, PhD, MPH, Clinical Director of the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, and Georgeanna Klingensmith, MD, Director of Pediatric Clinics at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, wrote in their study, "Prevention of Type 1 Diabetes," published in 1997 in Diabetes Spectrum:

"A meta-analysis of selected studies suggested that children with diabetes are 60% more likely to have had an early exposure to cow's milk than nondiabetic children...

The environmental factors suspected of triggering Beta-cell autoimmunity that we discussed above-entroviruses and cow's milk-have also been linked to the onset of clinical diabetes."

1997 - Georgeanna Klingensmith, MD 
Marian Rewers, MD, PhD 



Hertzel Gerstein, MD, MSc, Population Health Institute Chair in Diabetes Research at McMaster University, concluded in his 1994 study "Cow's Milk Exposure and Type I Diabetes Mellitus: A Critical Overview of the Clinical Literature," published in Diabetes Care:

"Ecological and time-series studies consistently showed a relationship between type I diabetes and either cow's milk exposure or diminished breast-feeding. In the case-control studies, patients with type I diabetes were more likely to have been breast-fed for less than 3 months...and to have been exposed to cow's milk before 4 months...

CONCLUSIONS--Early cow's milk exposure may be an important determinant of subsequent type I diabetes and may increase the risk approximately 1.5 times."

1994 - Hertzel Gerstein, MD, MSc 



Boyd Swinburn, MD, Chair in Population Health in the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University, in a July 13, 2004 report commissioned by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, titled "Beta Casein A1 and A2 in Milk and Human Health," concluded:

"About 25-30% of the protein in cows' milk is beta casein... One of the forms is called A1 beta casein and it has been suggested that it might cause or aggravate one type 1 diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia, and autism.

The strongest evidence is for type 1 diabetes and heart disease. The main study supporting a relationship with the type of milk consumed was a comparison of 20 countries. Those countries with the highest consumption of A1 beta casein had the highest rates of type 1 diabetes and heart disease."

July 13, 2004 - Boyd Swinburn, MD 



CON (no)

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation issued a press release in 2000 titled, "Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Position on Cow's Milk and Type 1 Diabetes":

"The JDRF [Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation] position is that there is no compelling scientific evidence at this time that supports the claim that drinking cow's milk increases the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes in children or adults."

2000 - Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation 



Carolyn D. Berdanier, PhD, Professor of Nutrition Emerita at the University of Georgia, concluded in her Apr. 2001 review of several scientific studies, titled "Diabetes Mellitus & Dairy Food Consumption," published on the National Dairy Council website:

"It has been suggested that diabetes is truly a disease that develops as a result of a nutrient-gene interaction. One hypothesis involving such an interaction concerns the ingestion of cow's milk and type 1 diabetes. This hypothesis has been disproven...

Studies in rodents suggest that dairy foods could play an active role in interventions that target specific diabetes genotypes and specific components of glucose homeostasis."

Apr. 2001 - Carolyn D. Berdanier, PhD 



Anthony Kulczycki, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Molecular Microbiology in the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, et al., in their 1997 study "Cow's Milk-Free Diet Does Not Prevent Diabetes in NOD Mice," published in Diabetes:

"To examine the significance of cow's milk protein in IDDM [Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, aka type 1 diabetes], 120 NOD [Non-obese diabetic] mice were maintained...on one of four diets [standard rodent diet, a milk-free diet, a milk-free diet incorporating bovine serum albumin (BSA), and a milk-free diet including bovine IgG (BGG)]...

Our main finding was that the standard, milk-free, and BSA-containing diets resulted in comparable incidences of IDDM in NOD mice, demonstrating that neither cow's milk whey proteins in general nor BSA in particular are significantly important as etiologic [disease causing] dietary agents in IDDM in NOD mice."

1997 - Anthony Kulczycki, MD