mlikOK we’ll admit it right now, we aren’t cow’s milk drinkers (eaters?).   So perhaps we are biased against this white cow excretion.   However Swedish researchers are supposed to be pretty impartial.  Given that Sweden is a major dairy producer, they might even be a bit biased in favor of milk.   But they couldn’t ignore scientific evidence that suggests that milk protects adults against fractures and broken bones. After tracking more than 100,000 Swedish men and women for up to 23 years, the study authors saw no link between milk consumption and fracture risk.  Worse yet, they found that avid milk drinkers were more likely to die at younger ages than their counterparts who drank little to no milk.   They published their findings in the British Medical Journal “No milky way!” some might say.

It gets worse.  They theorize that the culprit for this surprising find is D-galactose.   This is produced by the body as it breaks down lactose, the sugar in milk. Studies in animals have shown that chronic exposure to the nutrient causes “oxidative stress damage, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, decreased immune response, and gene transcriptional changes,” they wrote. In fact, when scientists want to mimic the effects of aging, they give animals shots or food containing D-galactose.   Double-milky no way!

And, before you relax, you should know that there are no randomized clinical trials have shown that drinking milk causes the risk of fractures or premature death to fall, and observational studies that might reveal an association between milk and better health have had mixed results.

There are two caveats:  Long-term studies are needed to show that drinking lots of milk actually causes the health problems seen in this study, they wrote. Also, all of the study participants were of European descent, and the findings may not apply to people of other ethnic groups.

However, these results certainly raise questions about dietary guidelines that encourage people to drink lots of milk.  That soy or almond milk might be looking a bit tastier at the moment.   They may even be better for you.