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Consumption of dairy foods, red meat and processed meat has varied health implications at key life stages


In this review, a researcher from the University of Reading in the U.K. examines the role of dairy foods and red meat at key life stages in terms of their ability to reduce or increase chronic disease risk. This article, which includes a discussion about recent meta-analyses and updated reports on the associations between dairy foods, red meat and processed meat, and various cancers, was published in the journal animal.

  • In the U.K., life expectancy has become higher than 80 years with an even greater proportional increase in those aged 85 years and over due to social and health care provision.
  • The different life stages give rise to important nutritional challenges; there are reports of reduced milk consumption by teenage females and reduced iodine intake by women during pregnancy.
  • Many young and pre-menopausal women have sub-optimal intakes of iron due to reduced consumption of red meat.
  • The low intakes of calcium are concerning especially since many people have sub-optimal vitamin D status.
  • Vitamin D deficiency can affect bone development and the consequences of this deficiency may manifest themselves later in life.
  • Milk and dairy foods are key sources of important nutrients, such as calcium and iodine.
  • The concentration of some key nutrients, notably iodine, can be influenced by the method of primary milk production and the iodine intake of the cow.
  • Recent meta-analyses show no evidence of increased risk of cardiovascular diseases from high consumption of milk and dairy foods.
  • There is increasing evidence that consumption of fermented dairy foods, particularly yogurt, reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Recent reports from the World Cancer Research Fund International–American Institute for Cancer Research prove that total dairy products and milk are associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
  • High intakes of milk/dairy are not associated with increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Consumption of red and, particularly processed meat, significantly increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

The author believes that it is essential to include nutrition and the health-related functionality of foods in evaluations of sustainable food production.

Journal Reference:

Givens DI. REVIEW: DAIRY FOODS, RED MEAT AND PROCESSED MEAT IN THE DIET: IMPLICATIONS FOR HEALTH AT KEY LIFE STAGES. animal. August 2018;12(8):1709–1721. DOI: 10.1017/s1751731118000642



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