Consuming dairy products may keep our bones strong and healthy, but it’s unclear from the research which products offer real benefits in protecting against breaks. In this analysis of data from several studies, the authors report that eating yogurt and cheese in particular were associated with a reduced hip fracture risk.
Dairy products are a rich source of calcium, vitamin D, proteins and other nutrients that are important in maintaining bone health, and so might help prevent hip fracture. Most studies of dairy products and hip fracture have focused on the effect of milk, but the results have been inconclusive. It’s reasonable to assume that different types of dairy products may have different effects on the risk of hip fracture because they vary in nutrient content. In this review of the medical literature, the authors examine the influence of milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, and total dairy products on hip fracture risk.
Drinking a glass of milk daily may have beneficial effects on hip fracture risk
While some studies have found reduced hip fracture risk with increased milk consumption, a recent study has reported an increase in risk among women drinking large amounts of milk. In the authors’ analysis, people who drank the most milk had a similar risk of hip fracture to those who drank the least. Drinking a glass of milk (200 g/day) each day may have beneficial effects on hip fracture risk, say the authors. However, they caution against drinking large amounts of milk because the effects are unclear.
Consumption of yogurt and cheese is associated with a reduced risk of hip fracture
Compared with people who ate little or no yogurt and cheese, those who ate large amounts of yogurt or cheese had a 25–32% lower risk of hip fracture. Further data are needed to prove conclusively that eating yogurt and cheese prevents hip fracture, the authors say. However, the analysis showed that consumption of total dairy products and cream was not significantly associated with hip fracture risk.
The authors suggest that yogurt and cheese may exert different effects from milk because they contain little or no galactose. This sugar, found in milk, has been linked to oxidative stress and inflammation which may be harmful to bone health. Also, unlike milk, yogurt and cheese contain probiotics which are associated with improved bone formation, increased bone density and prevention of bone loss.
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