What Happens If You Drink Too Much Milk?

Assuming that you weren't raised vegan or aren't lactose intolerant, you were probably encouraged to drink lots of milk as a kid. It's a good source of calcium, after all, and helps you grow strong bones. We tend to think of milk as a good thing with positive health benefits. But what happens if you drink too much milk

It turns out that there is such a thing as drinking too much milk. A 2014 study found that women who drink three or more glasses of milk every day almost doubled their risk of cardiovascular disease. It also increased their risk of cancer by 44 percent (compared to those who drank less than one glass of milk every day), and did nothing to better protect from bone fractures. While the study only suggested that there may be a link between increased dairy consumption and health (more research still needs to be done), the findings were conclusive enough for the study's lead author, Karl Michaelsson, a Swedish professor of surgical sciences, to change his lifestyle. "The study findings have, for myself, been strong enough to cut down on my milk consumption," he said (via CBS News).

That study might be inconclusive, but there are other reasons to lay off the milk. Whole fat milk has a lot of calories — 149 per cup — so drinking a lot of milk may cause unintended weight gain, says Livestrong. Lactose intolerance may also develop as you age, so if you find yourself experiencing digestive troubles that weren't present in childhood, dairy is a likely culprit.

Milk is healthy in moderate doses, but be careful about giving too much to kids. Too much milk can affect iron absorption, which may lead to anemia in small children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children under the age of 1 year not be given any cow's milk. Older children should be limited to two to three cups of milk per day. Drinking too much milk might make a child feel full, preventing them from eating other foods that are needed for a balanced diet.