Intake of dairy products and associations with major atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies

Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 14;11(1):1303. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-79708-x.


Specific types of dairy products may be differentially associated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD). We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies to summarize findings on the associations between total dairy product intake and intake of dairy product subgroups and the risk of major atherosclerotic CVDs in the general adult population. Our protocol was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42019125455). PubMed and Embase were systematically searched through 15 August 2019. For high versus low intake and dose-response meta-analysis, random-effects modelling was used to calculate summary risk ratios (RR). There were 13 cohort studies included for coronary heart disease (CHD), 7 for ischemic stroke and none for peripheral artery disease. High-fat milk was positively associated with CHD (RR 1.08 (95% confidence interval 1.00-1.16) per 200 g higher intake/day) and cheese was inversely associated with CHD (RR 0.96 (95% confidence interval 0.93-0.98) per 20 g higher intake/day). Heterogeneity, however, was observed in high versus low meta-analyses. Milk was inversely associated with ischemic stroke in high versus low meta-analysis only. In conclusion, this systematic review indicates a positive association of high-fat milk and an inverse association of cheese with CHD risk. The findings should be interpreted in the context of the observed heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cheese*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Ischemic Stroke / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Milk*
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Risk Factors