Milk called antidote to bone-thinning effect of coffee

January 26, 1994|By New York Times News Service

Women who drink at least one glass of milk each day throughout their adult lives can largely counter the bone-thinning effects of a lifetime of coffee drinking, according to a new study of 980 women past menopause.

The study, conducted by Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor and colleagues at the University of California at San Diego, showed that in women who do not drink milk, a lifetime habit of drinking as little as two cups a day of coffee containing caffeine results in a significant decline in bone density as they get older.

Such a decline, the hallmark of osteoporosis, which is epidemic among older women, can place them at risk of suffering debilitating and sometimes life-threatening fractures. Previous studies have linked coffee drinking to an increased risk of hip fractures.

The new finding, published in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, also strongly suggests that increasing calcium intake through supplements in middle age or beyond is not adequate to offset the bone loss induced by a lifetime of coffee drinking.

Rather, it appears that the effects of coffee drinking on bone density must be countered by appropriate calcium intake throughout life.

The researchers emphasized that their finding did not mean that a single glass of milk each day was sufficient to protect one's bones. Eight ounces of milk supplies only about one-third of the daily recommended intake of calcium for adults.

In general the researchers found that the more coffee women drank, the less milk they consumed.

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