Dairy products and the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study



We examined whether consumption of total dairy and dairy subgroups was related to incident stroke and coronary heart disease (CHD) in a general older Dutch population.


The study involved 4,235 participants of the Rotterdam Study aged 55 and over who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes at baseline (1990–1993). Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) for the intake of total dairy and dairy subgroups in relation to incident CVD events.


Median intake of total dairy was 397 g/day, which mainly comprised low-fat dairy products (median intake of 247 g/day). During a median follow-up time of 17.3 years, 564 strokes (182 fatal) and 567 CHD events (350 fatal) occurred. Total dairy, milk, low-fat dairy, and fermented dairy were not significantly related to incident stroke or fatal stroke (p > 0.2 for upper vs. lower intake categories). High-fat dairy was significantly inversely related to fatal stroke (HR of 0.88 per 100 g/day; 95 % CI 0.79, 0.99), but not to incident stroke (HR of 0.96 per 100 g/day; 95 % CI 0.90, 1.02). Total dairy or dairy subgroups were not significantly related to incident CHD or fatal CHD (HRs between 0.98 and 1.05 per 100 g/day, all p > 0.35).


In this long-term follow-up study of older Dutch subjects, total dairy consumption or the intake of specific dairy products was not related to the occurrence of CVD events. The observed inverse association between high-fat dairy and fatal stroke warrants confirmation in other studies.

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Anatomical therapeutic chemical


Coronary heart disease


Cardiovascular disease


General practitioner


Myocardial infarction


Semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire


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This study was supported by an unrestricted grant from the Dutch Dairy Organization (NZO) for epidemiological analyses on dairy intake and cardiovascular diseases. The Rotterdam Study was funded by the Erasmus Medical Center and Erasmus University Rotterdam; The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research; The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development; the Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly; The Netherlands Genomics Initiative; the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science; the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports; the European Commission (DG XII); and the Municipality of Rotterdam.

Conflict of interest

J.M.G and S.S.S.M received an unrestricted grant from the Dutch Dairy Organization (NZO) for epidemiological analyses on dairy intake and cardiovascular diseases. The other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Johanna M. Geleijnse.

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Praagman, J., Franco, O.H., Ikram, M.A. et al. Dairy products and the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. Eur J Nutr 54, 981–990 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-014-0774-0

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  • Dairy
  • Milk
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Population-based study