Purpose: Cheese contains a high content of saturated fatty acids but also lists of potentially beneficial nutrients. How long-term cheese consumption affects the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is unclear. A meta-analysis of prospective observational studies was conducted to evaluate the risks of total CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD), and stroke associated with cheese consumption.
Methods: Potentially eligible studies were identified by searching PubMed and EMBASE databases and by carefully reviewing the bibliographies of retrieved publications and related reviews. The summary relative risks (RRs) with 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using the random-effects model.
Results: The final analyses included 15 prospective studies. Most of the studies excluded prevalent CVD at baseline (14/15) and had a duration >10 years (13/15). The summary RR for high vs. low cheese consumption was 0.90 (95 % CI 0.82-0.99) for total CVD (7 studies, 8076 events), 0.86 (95 % CI 0.77-0.96) for CHD (8 studies, 7631 events), and 0.90 (95 % CI 0.84-0.97) for stroke (7 studies, 10,449 events), respectively. The restricted cubic model indicated evidence of nonlinear relationships between cheese consumption and risks of total CVD (P nonlinearity < 0.001) and stroke (P nonlinearity = 0.015), with the largest risk reductions observed at the consumption of approximately 40 g/d.
Conclusions: This meta-analysis of prospective studies suggests a nonlinear inverse association between cheese consumption and risk of CVD.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Cheese; Dairy; Meta-analysis.