Milk: A Glass A Day Can Improve Osteoarthritis in Women

Is all dairy the same? Researchers say that when it comes to knee osteoarthritis (OA), the answer is no.

Women who regularly drink fat-free or low-fat milk experience delayed progression of OA, whereas those who ate cheese experienced an increased progression of the disease. Yogurt did not affect OA.

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While it is well known that milk consumption impacts bone health, its role in the progression of OA was unclear. 

In the Osteoarthritis Initiative, researchers collected data from 2148 individuals (3064 knees) with radiographic knee OA and conducted four yearly follow-ups. At baseline, researchers measured the joint space between the medial femur and tibia of the knee.

Researchers found that as milk intake increased in women (from 0-3, 4-6, and >7 glasses per week), the joint space width (JSW) decreased. Results: ≤3 glasses of milk a week = 0.38 mm, 4-6 glasses = 0.29 mm, and ≥7 glasses = 0.26 mm.

Note: There was no association between milk consumption and the decreases of JSW in men.

Researchers reasoned that the high saturated fats in cheese might slowly increase the progression of OA.

The complete study is published in Arthritis Care & Research.


Lu B, Driban J, Duryea J, et al. Milk consumption and the progression of medial tibiofemoral knee osteoarthritis: data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Arthritis Care Res. 2014 Apr. doi: 10.1003/acr.22297