Milk: It Does a Health Care System Good
Analysis Suggests Billions in Savings If Americans Eat More Dairy
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 29, 2004 -- The dairy industry is working hard to promote
the idea that Americans would be healthier if they ate at least three servings
a day of their products. Now an industry-sponsored review of clinical studies
suggests that the nation's ailing health care system would be in better shape
In a study published in January's American Journal of
Hypertension, researchers David A. McCarron and Robert P. Heaney estimated
that if all Americans ate three to four servings of calcium-rich dairy foods
each day, as part of a healthy diet, the health care savings would exceed $200
billion over five years.
The researchers reviewed roughly 100 studies spanning two
decades to come up with the figure. According to McCarron, the studies offer
strong evidence that dairy foods play a role in reducing the risk of a host of
common diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, colon cancer,
type 2 diabetes, and heart attack and stroke.
Experts who spoke to WebMD characterize the evidence linking a
calcium-rich diet with protection from these conditions as intriguing but far
from conclusive. Although it is clear that calcium helps keep bones strong, the
jury is still out on many of its other health benefits, they say.
"People who have higher intakes of calcium tend to be those
who have better diets and take better care of themselves anyway," American
Heart Association spokesman Dan Jones, MD, tells WebMD. "So it is hard to
say if the health benefits seen in these studies are directly associated with
this particular micronutrient."