Role of milk and dairy intake in cognitive function in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Nutr J 2018; 17(1):82NJ
As aging populations increase across the globe, research on lifestyle factors that prevent cognitive decline and dementia is urgently needed. Therefore, a systematic review was conducted to examine the effects of varying levels of milk intake alone or in combination with other dairy products on the outcomes of cognitive function and disorders in adults.
A comprehensive search was conducted across 3 databases (PUBMED, CINAHL, and EMBASE) from their inception through October 2017. Prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that enrolled adults were included. Studies with follow-up durations of less than 4 weeks and studies including schizophrenic patients were excluded. Two independent investigators conducted abstract and full-text screenings, data extractions, and risk-of-bias (ROB) assessments using validated tools. Studies were synthesized qualitatively using a strength of evidence (SoE) rating tool. A random-effects model for meta-analysis was conducted when at least 3 unique studies reported sufficient quantitative data for the same outcome.
A total of 1 RCT and 7 cohort studies were included. One medium-quality small RCT (n = 38 participants) showed that only spatial working memory was marginally better in the high dairy diet group compared to the low dairy diet group. Two of the 7 cohort studies were rated as having a high ROB, and only 1 cohort study was rated as having a low ROB. There were large methodological and clinical heterogeneities, such as the methods used to assess milk or dairy intake and the characteristics of the study populations. It was impossible to conduct a dose-response meta-analysis because the studies utilized different categories of exposures (e.g., different frequencies of milk consumption or the amount of dairy intake). Thus, the overall SoE was rated as insufficient regarding the associations between milk intake and cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease outcomes. Our meta-analysis of 3 cohort studies showed no significant association between milk intake and cognitive decline outcome (pooled adjusted risk ratio = 1.21; 95% CI: 0.81, 1.82; for highest vs. lowest intake) with large statistical heterogeneity (I2 = 64.1%).
The existing evidence (mostly observational) is too poor to draw a firm conclusion regarding the effect of milk or dairy intake on the risk of cognitive decline or disorders in adults.