A daily pinta or a helping of dairy foods protect against the clustering of abnormal body chemistry known as the metabolic syndrome, suggests a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The syndrome has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease, and premature death.
The findings are based on a representative sample of 2375 men aged between 45 and 59, all of whom were part of a long term study on health, known as the Caerphilly Prospective Study.
Two or more out of high blood glucose, insulin, blood fats, body fat, and blood pressure defined the presence of the metabolic syndrome in the men studied.
The men's health was tracked over 20 years, during which time data from food questionnaires and weekly food diaries were used to assess how much milk and dairy foods the men consumed.
Around one in seven men (15%) had metabolic syndrome at entry into the study.
These men had almost double the risk of coronary artery heart disease and four times the risk of diabetes of those without the syndrome. They were also almost 50% more likely to die early.
But those who regularly drank milk and ate dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, were significantly less likely to have the syndrome.
They were 62% less likely to have it if they drank a pint or more of milk every day, and 56% less likely to have it if they regularly ate other dairy produce.
And the more dairy produce the men consumed, the less likely were they to have the syndrome.
Milk consumption has plummeted in the UK over the past 25 years, amid concerns about its impact on health, say the authors. But dairy produce is part of a healthy diet and its consumption should be promoted, they conclude.