When we were younger, our parents always told us we couldn't leave the table until we drank our milk. "Do you want to grow up to be strong?" they'd say. The dynamic duo of calcium and vitamin D has long been promoted as a recipe for durable bones, but we've known for a while that dairy isn't all it's cracked up to be.
To further reinforce this point, a new study in the BMJ suggests that a "the more, the better" approach may actually lead to weaker bones.
From 1987 to 1990, scientists in Sweden studied the dietary habits of a large group of women aged 39 to 74, and from 1997 to 2008, a large group of men aged 45 to 79. The participants were asked to fill out regular questionnaires detailing their consumption of up to 96 foods and drinks, including milk. From there, researchers tracked how many participants developed fractures and how many died over a 20-year follow-up period.
Flouting everything your mother told you, the women who had consumed more than three glasses (a little less than three cups) of milk a day had 50% higher risk of fracture and double the risk of death than women who drank less than one glass of milk a day (about 1/4 cup).
Men also had a higher risk of death with higher milk consumption in their 11-year follow-up period, though the effect was less pronounced than it was in women.
Apparently, though, a diet with more yogurt and cheese had the opposite effect. Researchers found that fermented milk products were associated with reduced rates of mortality and fracture, particularly in women.
While more research needs to be done, for now, mind your milk consumption — if you choose to drink it at all. Too much may actually be doing more harm than good!