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Drinking Milk May Not Help Strengthen Bones, Study Suggests

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For years we’ve been told that drinking milk, which contains calcium, strengthens our bones, making them less likely to fracture. But new research suggests that may not be the case.

A study carried out by researchers in Sweden showed that women who drank three glasses of milk each day were more likely to suffer broken bones than women who drank less milk. The study carefully evaluated the diets of more than 61,000 women over a three-year period (1987-1990). In the years that followed, participants were asked to complete questionnaires about their consumption of high-calcium foods and beverages, including milk, yogurt, and cheese.

The finding is shocking given that, for decades, milk has been recommended to children and adults as a source of calcium and a way to build stronger bones. Even more shocking may have been the finding that women who consumed three or more glasses of milk each day had a higher risk of death.

“Women who drank three or more glasses a day had twice the chance of dying at the end of the study than those who drank less than one glass a day,” noted Professor Karl Michaelsson, one of the study’s lead researchers. “And those who had a high milk intake also had a 50 per cent higher risk of hip fracture.”

About 45,000 men also participated in the study and they too were more likely to suffer broken bones if they drank more milk. But researchers insist that the results for men were less pronounced.

Although the study’s results are shocking, Michaelsson and his team caution that they are not definitive. Other factors, including alcohol consumption and weight, could also have impacted the findings.

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