Background/objectives: Dairy foods contain various nutrients that may affect health. We investigated whether intake of dairy products or related nutrients is associated with mortality due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and all causes.
Subjects/methods: We carried out a 16-year prospective study among a community-based sample of 1529 adult Australians aged 25-78 years at baseline. Habitual intakes of dairy products (total, high/low-fat dairy, milk, yoghurt and full-fat cheese), calcium and vitamin D were estimated as mean reported intake using validated food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) self-administered in 1992, 1994 and 1996. National Death Index data were used to ascertain mortality and cause of death between 1992 and 2007. Hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated using Cox regression analysis.
Results: During an average follow-up time of 14.4 years, 177 participants died, including 61 deaths due to CVD and 58 deaths due to cancer. There was no consistent and significant association between total dairy intake and total or cause-specific mortality. However, compared with those with the lowest intake of full-fat dairy, participants with the highest intake (median intake 339 g/day) had reduced death due to CVD (HR: 0.31; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.12-0.79; P for trend=0.04) after adjustment for calcium intake and other confounders. Intakes of low-fat dairy, specific dairy foods, calcium and vitamin D showed no consistent associations.
Conclusions: Overall intake of dairy products was not associated with mortality. A possible beneficial association between intake of full-fat dairy and cardiovascular mortality needs further assessment and confirmation.