You may have heard recent reports detailing the possible negative health consequences associated with the consumption of dairy products. This was a topic recently highlighted by the famous TV personality and self-purported nutrition expert, Dr. Oz. A recent piece authored by he and Dr. Mike Roizen from the Cleveland Clinic (see for example http://www.willitsnews.com/ci_23981339/dr-oz-heres-milk-news-thatll-shake-you) suggested that recent studies have concluded that regular consumption of milk was associated with diverse negative health outcomes. Their claims were as follows:
Claim 1: Since milk is high in sugar, it may contribute to childhood obesity
Claim 2: Milk consumption might not promote bone health or prevent bone fractures
Claim 3: Lactose (milk sugar) increases insulin-like growth factor levels and may promote ovarian cancer
Let’s however has a closer look at this issue and see what the peer-reviewed scientific literature concludes in this issue.
In contradiction to some of the negative health claims made by Drs. Oz and Roizen, a recent review article appearing in Nutrition Reviews (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23550782), which performed an extensive review of the scientific literature, found numerous positive health influences associated with milk consumption. These included the following:
Regular consumption of milk:
1) Close gaps between current nutrient intakes and recommendations.
2) Leads to better nutrient status and improved bone health
3) Is associated with lower blood pressure and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes
Despite these controversial stances on consumption of dairy products, all sides agree that adequate calcium and vitamin D are essential for good health. Milk is one of the best sources of these essential nutrients (and others), but if you can’t (or chose not to) consume milk, make sure you choose other foods that are good dietary sources of these nutrients. Good choices include fortified almond or soy milk, calcium-set tofu, fortified breakfast cereals, almonds and leafy greens.
Two differing opinions thus emerge on this issue. Who should you believe? Do you prefer to get your nutritional advice from TV personalities or from nutrition scientists working in the field? Will you continue to consume dairy products, or side with those that pick and choose the relatively fewer studies reporting negative health consequences? The choice is yours, but be properly informed before you decide. Your long term bone health and risk of osteoporosis later in life may hang in the balance.