Cow's milk is increasingly suggested to play a role in the development of chronic degenerative, non-communicable disorders whereas goat's milk is advocated as having several health benefits. Cow's milk is a rich and cheap source of protein and calcium, and a valuable food for bone health. Despite their high content in saturated fats, consumption of full-fat dairy products does not seem to cause significant changes in cardiovascular disease risk variables. Early introduction of cow's milk is a strong negative determinant of iron status. Unmodified cow's milk does not meet nutritional requirements of infants although it is acceptable to add small volumes of cow's milk to complementary foods. Cow's milk protein allergy has a prevalence ranging from 2 to 7%, and the age of recovery is usually around 2-3 years. The evidence linking cow's milk intake to a later risk of type 1 diabetes or chronic degenerative, non-communicable disorders (obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension) is not convincing. Milk probably protects against colorectal cancer, diets high in calcium are a probable cause of prostate cancer, and there is limited evidence suggesting that high consumption of milk and dairy products increases the risk for prostate cancer. There is no evidence to support the use of a cow's milk-free diet as a primary treatment for individuals with autistic spectrum disorders. Unmodified goat's milk is not suitable for infants because of the high protein and minerals content and of a low folate content. Goat's milk has no clear nutritional advantage over cow's milk and is not less allergenic. The European Food Safety Authority recently stated that proteins from goat's milk can be suitable as a protein source for infant and follow-on formula, provided the final product complies with the compositional criteria laid down in Directive 2006/141/EC.
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