Drinking low-fat milk is associated with ageing less

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A new study shows drinking low-fat milk – both non-fat and one per cent milk – is significantly associated with ageing less in adults.

Research on 5834 adults by Brigham Young University’s (BYU) Professor Larry Tucker found that people who drink low-fat (one per cent and skim) milk experience several years less biological ageing than those who drink high-fat (two per cent and whole) milk.

“It was surprising how strong the difference was,” Prof. Tucker said. “If you’re going to drink high-fat milk, you should be aware that doing so is predictive of or related to some significant consequences.”

Prof. Tucker investigated the relationship between telomere length and both milk intake frequency (daily drinkers vs. weekly drinkers or less) and milk fat content consumed (whole vs. two per cent vs. one per cent vs. skim).

Telomeres are the nucleotide endcaps of human chromosomes. They act like a biological clock and they’re closely correlated with age; each time a cell replicates, humans lose a tiny bit of the endcaps. Therefore, the older people get, the shorter their telomeres.

And, apparently, the more high-fat milk people drink, the shorter their telomeres are, according to the new BYU study.

The study revealed that for every one per cent increase in milk fat consumed (drinking two per cent vs. one per cent milk), telomeres were 69 base pairs shorter in the adults studied, which translated into more than four years in additional biological ageing.

When Prof. Tucker analysed the extremes of milk drinkers, adults who consumed whole milk had telomeres that were a striking 145 base pairs shorter than non-fat milk drinkers.

Nearly half of the people in the study consumed milk daily and another quarter consumed milk at least weekly.

Just under a third of the adults reported consuming full-fat (whole) milk and another 30 per cent reported drinking two per cent milk. Meanwhile, 10 per cent consumed one per cent milk and another 17 per cent drank non-fat milk. About 13 per cent did not drink any cows’ milk.

“If someone asked me to put together a presentation on the value of drinking milk, I could put together a one-hour presentation that would knock your socks off,” Prof. Tucker said. “You’d think, ‘Whoa, everybody should be drinking more milk.’

“If someone said do the opposite, I could also do that. At the very least, the findings of this study are definitely worth pondering. Maybe there’s something here that requires a little more attention.”

Somewhat surprisingly, he also found that milk abstainers had shorter telomeres than adults who consumed low-fat milk.

“It’s not a bad thing to drink milk,” Prof. Tucker said. “You should just be more aware of what type of milk you are drinking.”

What type of milk do you drink at home?

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Written by Ben



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