Story at a glance

  • A new study found drinking 1 percent rather than 2 percent milk accounts for 4.5 years of less aging in adults.
  • The study looked at the genes of nearly 6,000 adults.
  • Research found people who did not drink cow milk aged quicker than skim milk drinkers.

A new study claims drinking low-fat milk, both nonfat and 1 percent, could slow down the aging process and help people live a longer life. 

The research by Brigham Young University published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity analyzed the genes of almost 6,000 U.S. adults. The study found that every 1 percent increase in milk fat consumed translated to more than four years in additional biological aging. 

“It was surprising how strong the difference was,” the study’s lead author Larry Tucker said.

“If you’re going to drink high-fat milk, you should be aware that doing so is predictive of or related to some significant consequences.” 

Researchers analyzed the length of telomeres, a compound in human chromosomes that shorten with age. They found that saturated fat in high-fat milk puts stress on cells and can contribute to the death of tissues in the body. The more high-fat milk people drink, the shorter their telomeres are.  

Nearly half of the people in the study consumed milk daily and another quarter consumed milk at least weekly. A third of the adults reported consuming whole milk, while another 30 percent said they drank 2 percent. Meanwhile, 10 percent consumed 1 percent milk and another 17 percent drank nonfat. About 13 percent did not drink cow milk. 

However, the study did find that those who did not drink any milk had shorter telomeres than those who drank low-fat, meaning they also aged quicker than skimmed milk drinkers. 

“Milk is probably the most controversial food in our country,” Tucker said. “If someone asked me to put together a presentation on the value of drinking milk, I could put together a one-hour presentation that would knock your socks off. You’d think, ‘Whoa, everybody should be drinking more milk.’ If someone said to do the opposite, I could also do that. At the very least, the findings of this study are definitely worth pondering.” 

Published on Jan 17, 2020