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Milk, fruit, vegetable, total antioxidant intakes and mortality rates (2017-03-13)

High milk consumption might shorten life span through increased oxidative stress. Researchers Karl Michaëlsson, Liisa Byberg (Unit of Orthopedics, Department of Surgical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden), Håkan Melhus (Unit of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden) and Alicja Wolk (Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden) aimed to determine whether higher mortality rates with high milk consumption are modified by fruit and vegetable intake or total antioxidant intake (oxygen radical absorbance capacity).

Researchers used information from food frequency questionnaires completed by 61,420 women in a Swedish cohort (22,391 deaths from the 1987–1990 baseline onward), 36,714 women from a second survey (1997) of this cohort, and 45,280 Swedish men (15,478 deaths from the 1998 baseline onward).

By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation processes, higher fruit and vegetable intake has convincingly been shown to promote longevity and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Intriguingly, and supporting our results in women, there is experimental evidence that fruits and vegetables or extracts of them can rescue animals from the premature aging phenotype induced by galactose supplementation.

No clear interaction was found between milk intake and fruit and vegetable intake in men.
This failure to find an interaction could have several explanations.

The association between milk and mortality was more modest in men, and a clear excess mortality rate was observed in men only above =3 glasses/day, which limited our possibility to detect an interaction pattern with fruit and vegetables.

Furthermore, the gene expression and activity of antioxidant enzymes (such as mitochondrial glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase) in animals seem to be higher in females than in males, giving females an enhanced capacity to provide mitigation of oxidative damage through an increased intake of antioxidants.

Compared with low consumption of milk (<1 glass/day) and high consumption of fruits/vegetables (=5 servings/day), time-updated information revealed an adjusted hazard ratio for death of 2.79 (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.42, 3.21) in women who consumed =3 glasses of milk/day and <1 serving/day of fruit/vegetables and a hazard ratio of 1.60 (95% CI: 1.40, 1.82) in women who consumed the same amount of milk but =5 servings/day of fruits/vegetables.

The same comparisons in men, based on a single food frequency questionnaire, displayed hazard ratios of 1.31 (95% CI: 1.14, 1.51) and 1.07 (95% CI: 0.97, 1.18), respectively.

Total antioxidant consumption showed similar patterns as fruit/vegetable intakes. Dietary antioxidant intake, especially in women, seems to modify the elevated death rate associated with high milk consumption.

For more information
Milk, Fruit and Vegetable, and Total Antioxidant Intakes in Relation to Mortality Rates: Cohort Studies in Women and Men
American Journal of Epidemiology