Yogurt Consumption Associated with Reduced Mortality Risk (Plus a Caveat)

A new study in the American Journal of Nutrition suggests that regular yogurt consumption is associated with a decrease in mortality in women, although the authors cautioned that the results must be interpreted with caution.

The study included 82,348 women from the Nurse’s Health Study and 40,278 men from the Health Processional’s Follow-up Study who had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer in 1980 (women) and 1986 (men). The authors looked specifically at all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the study population, assessed by updated validated questionnaires. The authors reported 3,354,957 total person-years of follow-up.

According to the results, there were 20,831 deaths among women and 12,397 among men during the analysis period. When compared to those who didn’t consume yogurt, multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (95% CI for all) for mortality were 0.89 (8.86 to 0.93) for ≤1 to three servings per month, 0.85 (0.81 to 0.89) for one serving per week, 0.88 (0.84 to 0.91) for two to four servings per week, and 0.91 (0.85 to 0.98) for more than four servings per week. The authors also reported an inverse association for cancer mortality (multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio comparing extreme categories: 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78 to 0.98; P-trend=0.04) and for cardiovascular disease mortality (0.92; 95% CI: 0.79 to 1.08; P-trend=0.41) in women. The link with cardiovascular mortality was attenuated in the multivariable model.

Can Yogurt Be Replaced?

When one serving of yogurt was replaced with a serving of nuts (women and men) or whole grains (women), the authors observed a lower risk for all-cause mortality, while replacing a yogurt serving with red meat, processed meat (women and men), and milk or other dairy foods, they reported a greater association with mortality.

“In our study, regular yogurt consumption was related to lower mortality risk among women,” the authors wrote in their study. “Given that no clear dose–response relation was apparent, this result must be interpreted with caution.”