Study beginning in 1930s suggests link, but experts unsure
MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- A 65-year-long study finds that people who took in lots of calcium and dairy products as children tended to avoid stroke and live longer than those who didn't.
"This study shows a modest protective effect of dietary calcium intake in childhood against stroke risk later in life, and a modest protective effect against mortality from any cause from higher intake of milk in childhood," said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study, which was published in the July 28 online edition of Heart.
Risk factors for heart disease start in childhood, but there is little evidence of the effect dairy foods have on these risks. Some dairy products, such as whole milk, butter and cheese, have a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol. Studies have also shown that eating these foods in adulthood contributes to heart disease, researchers say.
For the study, a research team led by Jolieke van der Pols from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, collected data on children from 1,343 families in England and Scotland. All of the families took part in a survey of diet and health conducted in Britain from 1937 to 1939.
The researchers were able to track the adult health of 4,374 of the children between 1948 and 2005. By 2005, 1,468 of these individuals had died, including 378 who succumbed to heart disease and 121 who died from stroke.
The researchers looked at two main outcomes: deaths from stroke and cardiovascular disease. They looked at the associations between dairy intake and mortality and the associations between individual dairy foods and mortality.
They found no clear evidence that dairy products were tied to either coronary heart disease or stroke deaths.
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