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Milk, coronary disease and mortality
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  1. PETER ELWOOD
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Wales College of Medicine, University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK (pelwood@doctors.org.uk)

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    Milk has long been under suspicion as an important factor in coronary heart disease because of its relatively high content of saturated fat and numerous people and expert groups have spoken and written in condemnation of milk and have recommended that only skimmed or semiskimmed milk is drunk—even by children.

    Many mechanisms have however been appealed to in attempts to explain the supposed harm of milk. Thus it has been argued that its high calcium content, together with an enhancement of the uptake of calcium from other foods by the lactose in milk, could increase arterial calcification, leading to myocardial ischaemia.1 On the other hand, animal proteins contribute to homocysteine and milk, unlike meat, contains little of the B vitamins needed for the metabolism of homocysteine.2 Milk is also low in copper, an essential element in many enzymes, and the lactose in milk interferes with the absorption of copper from other food sources.3 Chronic infections from milk borne bacteria, or algae, have been suggested as a contributory cause of atherosclerosis.4 Both phytoestrogens5 and xanthine oxidase6 are present in …

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