High milk consumption may be an indicator of later heart disease, say British researchers.

Expanding on the work done in the recent World Health Organization’s MONICA (Monitoring Trends And Determinations In Cardiovascular Disease) project (Lancet, 1999; 353: 1547-57) researchers at the Salford and Stockport allergy clinic obtained data on milk consumption from several European countries between 1973 and 1993. They noted that changes in milk consumption, either up or down, accurately mirrored changes in coronary deaths, up or down, four to seven years later among men aged 65 to 74 years.

The researchers found, for example, that in Portugal both milk consumption and coronary deaths rose, while in other countries both milk consumption and coronary death fell proportionately. The researchers also found that butter consumption was a poor predictor of coronary death, and that high beef and cheese consumers had lower numbers of heart deaths, but although significantly so.

These results are preliminary, but the researchers speculate that the artery clogging component of milk is its protein rather than its fat content (See this month’s cover story) (Lancet, 1999; 354: 862).

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