Avoiding milk is associated with a reduced risk of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome: findings from the British Women's Heart and Health Study


D. A. Lawlor, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2PR, UK. E-mail: d.a.lawlor@bristol.ac.uk


Objective  To examine the association of milk consumption with insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome.

Methods  The association was examined in 4024 British women aged 60–79 who were randomly selected from primary care centres in 23 towns.

Results  Women who never drank milk had lower homeostasis model assessment insulin resistance (HOMA) scores, triglyceride concentrations and body mass indices, and higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol concentrations, than those who drank milk. The age-adjusted odds ratio for the metabolic syndrome comparing non-milk drinkers with drinkers was 0.55 (0.33, 0.94), which did not attenuate with adjustment for potential confounders. Diabetes was less common in non-milk drinkers.

Conclusion  Individuals who do not drink milk may be protected against insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. However, randomized controlled trials are required to establish whether milk avoidance is causally associated with these outcomes.