Observational studies showed inverse associations between milk consumption and knee osteoarthritis (knee OA). There is lack of information on the role of specific dairy product categories. We explored the association between dairy consumption and the presence of knee osteoarthritis in 3010 individuals aged 40-75 years participating in The Maastricht Study.
The presence of knee OA was defined according to a slightly modified version of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) clinical classification criteria. Data on dairy consumption were appraised by a 253-item FFQ covering 47 dairy products with categorization on fat content, fermentation or dairy type. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to estimate odd ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI), while correcting for relevant factors.
427 (14%) participants were classified as having knee OA. Significant inverse associations were observed between the presence of knee OA and intake of full-fat dairy and Dutch, primarily semi-hard, cheese, with OR for the highest compared to the lowest tertile of intake of 0.68 (95%CI 0.50-0.92) for full-fat dairy, and 0.75 (95%CI 0.56-0.99) for Dutch cheese. No significant associations were found for other dairy product categories.
In this Dutch population, higher intake of full-fat dairy and Dutch cheese, but not milk, was cross-sectionally associated with the lower presence of knee OA. Prospective studies need to assess the relationship between dairy consumption, and in particular semi-hard cheeses, with incident knee OA.