Does Drinking Milk Contribute to Heart Disease?

PRO (yes)

Margaret Moss, MA, Director of the Nutrition & Allergy Clinic in Manchester, UK, in her study "Does Milk Cause Coronary Heart Disease?" published in the Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine on Sep. 1, 2002, wrote:

"Several studies have been published showing a high positive correlation between milk consumption in different countries and rates of death a few years later from CHD [Coronary Heart Disease]. One investigation showed that countries which reduced milk consumption later had reduced rates of CHD death, while the only country studied which increased its milk consumption [Portugal] had an increased rate of CHD death."

Sep. 1, 2002 - Margaret Moss, MA 

William B. Grant, PhD, senior research scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), wrote in his article "Milk and Other Dietary Influences on Coronary Heart Disease," published in 1998 in the Alternative Medicine Review:

"The statistical results of the present study confirm the finding...that the non-fat components of milk are important in the etiology [cause or origin] of heart disease for both males and females... Given the strong statistical link between milk carbohydrates, non-fat milk and heart disease in this study...much more attention should be given to the study of the link between dietary bovine milk and heart disease."

1998 - William B. Grant, PhD 

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

Joseph Mercola, DO, osteopath and author, in an undated article on his website titled "Don't Drink Your Milk!" (accessed Sep. 17, 2007), wrote:

"There is also a problem with a protein enzyme called xanthine oxidase which is in cow's milk. Normally, proteins are broken down once you digest them.

However, when milk is homogenized, small fat globules surround the xanthine oxidase and it is absorbed intact into your blood stream. There is some very compelling research demonstrating clear associations with this absorbed enzyme and increased risks of heart disease."

Sep. 17, 2007 - Joseph Mercola, DO 

Stephen Seely, MD, cardiologist and researcher, wrote in his 1991 article "Is Calcium Excess in Western Diet a Major Cause of Arterial Disease?" published in the International Journal of Cardiology:

"The general observation can be made that, in countries where the daily calcium intake is 200-400 mg, arterial diseases are non-existent. Blood pressure does not increase with age. In countries where the daily intake is 800 mg, arterial disease is the leading cause of mortality. A more specific indicator is the strong positive correlation between consumption of milk and mortality from coronary arterial disease."

1991 - Stephen Seeley 

CON (no)

Peter Elwood, MD, Professor of Epidemiology at Cardiff University, et al., in their study "Milk Drinking, Ischaemic Heart Disease and Ischaemic Stroke II. Evidence from Cohort Studies," published May 2004 in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded:

"Cohort studies provide no convincing evidence that milk is harmful. While there still could be residual confounding from unidentified factors, the studies, taken together, suggest that milk drinking may be associated with a small but worthwhile reduction in heart disease and stroke risk."

May 2004 - Peter Elwood, MD 

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health published an article in its monthly Wellness Letter titled "Udder Confusion," (accessed Sep. 13, 2007), stating:

"Claim: Dairy products increase the risk of heart disease.

Facts: If you consume lots of whole milk and cheese, you're likely to raise your blood cholesterol levels. That's true, however, of any foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol. Milk's opponents talk as if all milk is still whole milk. But more and more dairy products these days are nonfat or low-fat, and thus do not raise cholesterol levels significantly. In fact, there's some evidence that certain substances in milk may help lower cholesterol somewhat...

Milk opponents often quote a paper in Alternative Medicine Review [1998 study by William Grant] that indicted milk, even nonfat milk, as a cause of heart disease. But that article was simplistic and misleading. It found an association between milk consumption and heart disease in population studies from 32 countries, but the data did not allow the researcher to take into consideration many of the other factors that can affect the risk of heart disease."

Sep. 13, 2007 - UC Berkeley School of Public Health 

Luc Djoussé, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and James S. Pankow, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, et al., wrote in their study "Influence of Saturated Fat and Linolenic Acid on the Association Between Intake of Dairy Products and Blood Pressure," published June 26, 2006 in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association:

"Our data found that dairy consumption is inversely associated with prevalent HTN [hypertension] and resting SBP [systolic blood pressure] mainly among individuals consuming less saturated fat and independent of dietary calcium. These findings lend support to the recommendation of low-fat dairy consumption as a mean to lower blood pressure."

[Note: High blood pressure is commonly considered to increase the risk of heart disease.]

June 26, 2006 - Luc Djoussé, MD, DSc 

Peter Elwood, MD, Professor of Epidemiology at Cardiff University, et al., in their study "Milk Consumption, Stroke, and Heart Attack Risk: Evidence from the Caerphilly Cohort of Older Men," published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in 2005, concluded:

"The men with the greater consumption of milk experienced a reduction in the risk of ischaemic [inadequate blood flow] stroke and a possible reduction in ischaemic heart disease risk. Explanations of these results other than a beneficial effect of milk would seem to be unlikely. The present perception of milk as harmful, in increasing cardiovascular risk, should be challenged and every effort should be made to restore it to its rightful place in a healthy diet."

2005 - Peter Elwood, MD 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a report titled "Your Guide to a Healthy Heart" in Dec. 2005, stating:

"Certain mineral-rich foods can help keep blood pressure levels healthy... Calcium and magnesium are two other minerals that may help to prevent high blood pressure, as well as improve health in other ways. Low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products are rich sources of calcium."

Dec. 2005 - United States Department of Health and Human Services 
"Your Guide to a Healthy Heart" (2.18MB)