There’s good news for milk-loving women: new research shows women who frequently consume low- or no-fat milk may delay the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Not all dairy created equal for women’s bone healthThe research, published in American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal, Arthritis Care & Research, show the association of milk consumption and a reduced progression of osteoarthritis.

"Milk consumption plays an important role in bone health," explains lead author Bing Lu, M.D., Dr.P.H., from Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. "Our study is the largest study to investigate the impact of dairy intake in the progression of knee OA."

The study looked at more than 2,000 men and women with knee osteoarthritis. Dietary data was collected, and joint space width was measured by x-ray to evaluate osteoarthritis progression. Subjects had follow-ups at 12, 24, 36 and 48 months.

Researchers found that as intake of milk increased, the join space width in women also decreased. These results persisted after adjusted for diseases severe, body mass index and dietary factors. Men did not show a similar association.

However, not all dairy consumption had the same result. The researchers also found that women who ate cheese had an increase in knee osteoarthritis.  Click here to read more.

Osteoarthritis is a common, degenerative joint disease that causes pain and swelling of joints in the hand, hips and knees and affects nearly 27 million Americans over the age of 25. Women over the age of 50 are those who are commonly affected by the disease.

Huffington Post points that while further studies need to be done, researchers say the results of the study raise an important point.

"With the aging population and increase in life expectancy, there is an urgent need for effective methods to manage osteoarthritis," researchers Shivani Sahni and Robert McLean said in a related study published in the journal. "The study by Lu et al. provides the first evidence that increasing fat-free of low-fat milk consumption may slow the progression of osteoarthritis among women who are particularly burdened by osteoarthritis of the knee, which can lead to functional disability."

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