Background: The consumption of dairy products may influence the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and total mortality, but conflicting findings have been reported.
Objective: The objective was to examine the associations of milk, total dairy products, and high- and low-fat dairy intakes with the risk of CVD [including coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke] and total mortality.
Design: PubMed, EMBASE, and SCOPUS were searched for articles published up to February 2010. Of > 5000 titles evaluated, 17 met the inclusion criteria, all of which were original prospective cohort studies. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed with summarized dose-response data. Milk as the main dairy product was pooled in these analyses.
Results: In 17 prospective studies, there were 2283 CVD, 4391 CHD, 15,554 stroke, and 23,949 mortality cases. A modest inverse association was found between milk intake and risk of overall CVD [4 studies; relative risk (RR): 0.94 per 200 mL/d; 95% CI: 0.89, 0.99]. Milk intake was not associated with risk of CHD (6 studies; RR: 1.00; 95% CI: 0.96, 1.04), stroke (6 studies; RR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.72, 1.05), or total mortality (8 studies; RR per 200 mL/d: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.95, 1.03). Limited studies of the association of total dairy products and of total high-fat and total low-fat dairy products (per 200 g/d) with CHD showed no significant associations.
Conclusion: This dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies indicates that milk intake is not associated with total mortality but may be inversely associated with overall CVD risk; however, these findings are based on limited numbers.