Milk may diminish risks of heart attack, study says

February 15, 1991|By Medical Tribune News Service

A pint of milk a day may lower the risk of heart attack, according to a new British study.

Once considered forbidden for people on low-fat diets, milk may actually lower the risk of heart disease.

A 10-year study of 5,000 British men between the ages of 45 and 59 found that only 1 percent of men who drank at least a pint of whole milk a day suffered heart attacks.

In contrast, 10 percent of the non-milk drinkers in the study had heart attacks, said lead researcher Dr. Peter Elwood of the Medical Research Council's epidemiology unit at Llandough Hospital in Penarth, Wales.

The results of the study are to be published in the March issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

The findings run counter to earlier studies suggesting that since milk is high in saturated fat, it would increase the risk of heart disease.

Milk may contain an ingredient that has a cholesterol-lowering effect, said Ann Fehily, a nutritionist who worked on the study.

On the other hand, Ms. Fehily said, the lifestyles of milk-drinking men might also lower their risk.

"It is likely that people who choose to drink a lot of milk are different than those who choose not to," she said. "They might be more physically active or have other differences in lifestyle."

The research on heart attacks also found that men with high levels of fibrinogen, a compound that causes the blood to clot, were four times more likely to suffer a heart attack.

Higher levels of fibrinogen are found in smokers.

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