The risk of heart attack or stroke does not increase when consuming milk, cheese or yogurt, according to research by an international team of experts.
In a challenge to the widely held belief that dairy products can be bad for your health, the scientists claimed that even full-fat versions do not increase the likelihood of heart disease.
Researchers from the University of Reading, Copenhagen University (Denmark) and Wageningen University (Netherlands) analysed 29 existing studies which involved data on 938,465 participants worldwide, taken over the last 35 years. Five studies had taken place in the UK.
They were investigating whether dairy products increased the risk of death from any cause and from cardiovascular disease or serious heart problems, concluding that dairy products did not raise any of these risks.
The report said: “This meta-analysis showed there were no associations between total dairy, high- and low-fat dairy, milk and the health outcomes including all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.”
The current health advice from the government is to stick to low-fat versions of milk and dairy products, due to the amount of saturated fat contained in normal dairy products.
“There’s quite a widespread but mistaken belief among the public that dairy products in general can be bad for you, but that’s a misconception. While it is a widely held belief, our research shows that that’s wrong,” said Reading University professor Ian Givens, who was one of the researchers.
“There’s been a lot of publicity over the last five to 10 years about how saturated fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and a belief has grown up that they must increase the risk, but they don’t.”
“Our meta-analysis included and unusually large number of participants. We are confident that our results are robust and accurate,” he continued.
The report was published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.