Biomarkers of dairy intake and the risk of heart disease

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2012 Dec;22(12):1039-45. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2011.02.003. Epub 2011 May 5.


Background and aims: Despite their relatively high content of saturated fat, studies of dairy product intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease have often yielded null or inverse results. The use of fatty acid biomarkers to reflect dairy intake could elucidate this association. This study aims to evaluate the association between dairy intake, assessed by adipose pentadecanoic (15:0) and heptadecanoic (17:0) fatty acids and food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), and the risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction (MI), in a matched case-control study of Costa Rican adults (n=3630).

Methods and results: The association was examined using conditional logistic regression, adjusted for potential confounders. The associations of adipose tissue 15:0 and 17:0 with the risk of MI were not statistically significant (for 15:0: multivariate-adjusted OR for 5th quintile vs. 1st=1.14 (95% CI=0.85, 1.53), p-value for linear trend=0.77; for 17:0: multivariate-adjusted OR for 5th quintile vs. 1st=1.15 (95% CI=0.88, 1.51), p-value for linear trend=0.18). The association between the FFQ measure of dairy intake and MI showed evidence of a possible threshold effect, with a protective association observed for all but the top quintile of the exposure distribution.

Conclusion: Dairy product intake as assessed by adipose tissue 15:0, 17:0, and by FFQ is not associated with a linear increase in the risk of MI in the study population. It is possible that the adverse effect of saturated fat in dairy products on cardiovascular health is offset by presence of beneficial nutrients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Costa Rica / epidemiology
  • Dairy Products*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • pentadecanoic acid
  • margaric acid