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Keywords:

  • osteoporosis;
  • bone mineral density;
  • race;
  • milk;
  • calcium

Abstract

Studies of the effect of milk consumption on bone density have focused on white women. The applicability to other races is unclear. This study of 4316 women found a racial difference in the effect of early milk consumption on bone. Further study is required to evaluate the etiology of this difference.

Introduction: Early milk consumption has been found to influence bone mineral density positively throughout life. Previous studies leading to this finding focused on white women; there are no data to support the view that black women also gain an equivalent benefit from early milk consumption.

Materials and Methods: Using data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), we analyzed the relationship between reported childhood and teenage milk consumption and current hip bone mineral density at four sites (femoral neck, trochanter, intertrochanter, and total hip) among postmenopausal and 20- to 39-year-old non-Hispanic white (NHW) and black (NHB) women. Potential confounding variables were accounted for in the analysis.

Results: Controlling for age and body mass index, teenage milk consumption was significantly associated with higher bone mineral density at all four sites among both postmenopausal and 20- to 39-year-old white women, but was not associated with bone mineral density at any site among black women. A similar pattern was observed for childhood milk intake. The interaction between race and teenage milk consumption significantly explained postmenopausal bone mineral density at all sites, whereas the interaction between race and teenage milk consumption was significant at two of the four sites among the 20- to 39-year-old women.

Conclusion: The results show racial differences in the effect of early milk consumption on peak and postmenopausal bone mineral density.