Recent dairy product studies have suggested that fermented rather than non-fermented dairy products might provide benefits on cardiovascular health, but the evidence is inconclusive. Therefore, we investigated whether fermented and non-fermented dairy products have distinct associations with the risk of incident CHD in a population with high dairy product intake. The present study included a total of 1981 men, aged 42-60 years, from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, with no CHD at baseline. Dietary intakes were assessed with instructed 4-d food records. We used Cox's proportional hazards regression model to estimate the associations with the risk of CHD. Fatal and non-fatal CHD events were ascertained from national registries. During a mean follow-up of 20·1 years, 472 CHD events were recorded. Median intakes were 105 g/d for fermented (87 % low-fat products) and 466 g/d for non-fermented dairy products (60 % low-fat products). After adjusting for potential confounders, those in the highest (v. lowest) intake quartile of fermented dairy products had 27 % (95 % CI 5, 44; P-trend=0·02) lower risk of CHD. In contrast, those in the highest intake quartile of non-fermented dairy products had 52 % (95 % CI 13, 104; P-trend=0·003) higher risk of CHD. When analysed based on fat content, low-fat (<3·5 % fat) fermented dairy product intake was associated with lower risk (hazard ratio in the highest quartile=0·74; 95 % CI 0·57, 0·97; P-trend=0·03), but high-fat fermented dairy and low-fat or high-fat non-fermented dairy products had no association. These results suggest that fermented and non-fermented dairy products can have opposite associations with the risk of CHD.
Keywords: AR absolute risk; HR hazard ratio; KIHD Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study; CHD; Dairy products; Fermented dairy products; Finnish men; Prospective cohort studies.