Saturated fats form a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) due to adverse affects on blood lipids. As whole-fat dairy products are a major source of saturated fats, dietary guidelines recommend minimizing its consumption. However, cohort studies investigating associations between dairy intake with mortality and major CVD yielded conflicting results. Furthermore, most studies were conducted in North America and Europe, dismissing low- and middle-income countries. In order to make global policy recommendations, data from all world regions are essential.
The large multinational Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) cohort study followed 136 384 individuals from 21 countries in 5 continents and recorded 10 567 deaths or major CVD events (primary outcome). Results revealed inverse associations between total dairy consumption and mortality (Hazard Ratio (HR) 0.83, p=0.0052 for >2 total dairy servings/day compared with no intake), major CVD (0.78, p=0.0001) and stroke (0.66, p=0.0003). No association was found between higher dairy consumption and myocardial infarction (0.89, p=0.163).
These findings support evidence from previous meta-analysis that the consumption of dairy products could actually be favorable for reduction of mortality and cardiovascular disease. Low- and middle-income countries, with high incidences of stroke and low total dairy intake, might benefit most from increasing diary intake.
Author: Frederike Schmitz