Dairy products and its association with incidence of cardiovascular disease: the Malmö diet and cancer cohort


It is unclear whether specific dairy products are associated with risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this project was therefore to examine the association between intake of milk, cheese, cream and butter, and incidence of CVD in the Swedish Malmö Diet and Cancer cohort. Milk was separated into fermented (yoghurt and cultured sour milk) versus non-fermented milk, and low-fat versus high-fat milk. Among 26,445 individuals without a history of myocardial infarction, stroke and diabetes (44–74 years; 62% females), 2,520 CVD cases (coronary and stroke events) were identified during a mean follow-up time of 12 years. Dietary data was collected using a modified diet history method. Overall consumption of dairy products was inversely associated with risk of CVD (P trend = 0.05). Among the specific dairy products, a statistically significant inverse relationship was observed only for fermented milk. The highest versus lowest intake category of fermented milk was associated with 15% (95% CI: 5–24%; P trend = 0.003) decreased incidence of CVD. We observed a statistically significant interaction between sex and cheese intake (P = 0.046). Cheese intake was significantly associated with decreased CVD risk in women (P trend = 0.03), but not in men (P trend = 0.98). The main finding was that a high intake of fermented milk may reduce the risk of CVD. This study suggests that it is important to examine dairy products separately when investigating their health effects.

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Body mass index


Cardiovascular disease


Hemoglobin A1c


High-density lipoprotein cholesterol


Homeostasis model assessment


Hazard ratio


International classification of diseases, 9th revision


Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol


Malmö diet and cancer


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This work was supported by the Lund University Diabetes Center (LUDC); the Swedish Medical Research Council (K2009-65X-15358-11-3); the Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation (2009-014); the Region Skåne; the Skåne University Hospital Foundation; the Albert Påhlsson Research Foundation; and the Crafoord foundation.

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Correspondence to Emily Sonestedt.

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Sonestedt, E., Wirfält, E., Wallström, P. et al. Dairy products and its association with incidence of cardiovascular disease: the Malmö diet and cancer cohort. Eur J Epidemiol 26, 609–618 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-011-9589-y

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  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cohort
  • Dairy
  • Malmö
  • Milk