Cristen Conger

Does milk cure PMS?


Milk: PMS cure-all? (Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr Creative Commons)

Even if you're not a fan of the message, you have to hand it to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the ad firm behind the latest marketing "Got Milk?" marketing campaign: they've got a lot of people buzzing about milk. Granted, it's an angry buzz, akin to a swarm of killer wasps. This time around, the California Milk Processor Board is urging men to bring home milk to soothe their female partner's horrifying PMS symptoms. Dubbed "Everything I Do Is Wrong," the ads feature frightened men offering their PMS-crazed wives and girlfriends offerings of milk.

And the Internet ain't happy at the overtly sexist tone. There's even an online petition to end the campaign. I could do without the lame marketing as well, but what I really want to know is: Does milk cure PMS? Is there some science among the sexism?

In short, yes. Women should already get around 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily to reduce their risk of osteoporosis, although medical experts disagree on just how much is appropriate. That calcium intake could diminish PMS severity as well. A WebMD alerted me to a 1998 study finding that "calcium supplements of 1,200 milligrams per day -- the calcium equivalent of four glasses of milk -- significantly eased PMS symptoms." But don't pop open that milk carton and expect instant results. It took two months for the supplements to kick in and begin easing luteal phase discomfort.

Another study on the effects of calcium and vitamin D supplements also indicated that it could help with PMS over time. Tracking women ages 27 to 44 over 10 years, those taking calcium and vitamin D "saw a 40 percent lower risk of developing PMS" (via CBS News).

Since these study participants got their calcium in supplement form, rather than milk, the "Got Milk" PMS claim might be overblown. Also, it isn't the only potentially PMS-preventing food out there. Researchers have also linked thiamine and riboflavin and a "significantly lower risk of PMS." So "Got Milk?" should really be "Got Milk and Eggs and Meat and Green Veggies and Nutritional Supplements?". No sexist ads required.

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