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Rapid response to:


Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 28 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6015

Rapid Response:

The authors suggest that the effect of milk on mortality is due to the milk sugar galactose. However, Hettinga, in his rapid response, stated that ‘the galactose intake from fermented dairy … is equal to the galactose intake from regular dairy’ (

Inspection of publicly available databases confirms that fermented milk and yoghurt contain appreciable amounts of galactose and its precursor, lactose.The Swedish Livsmedelsdatabasen shows 3.8 g/100g for disaccharides (presumably lactose) in fermented milk and 4.9 g/100g in regular milk. Databases which provide actual lactose and galactose numbers, such as the Dutch, US and UK tables, show even smaller differences between regular milk on the one hand and yoghurt and buttermilk on the other hand.

Thus the authors’ galactose hypothesis is not based on solid data.

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 October 2014
Martijn B. Katan
Professor of Nutrition (retired)
VU University, Dept of Health Sciences
De Boelelaan 1085, Amsterdam, Netherlands