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This Is What Happened When One Man Overdosed On Milk

Blood should not be this milky.

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

James is a published author with four pop-history and science books to his name. He specializes in history, strange science, and anything out of the ordinary.

Senior Staff Writer

Blood samples. One appears unusually milky in appearance.

Blood isn't usually this milky in appearance. Image credit: Bastick et al., International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 2012 (Creative Commons)

Heroin, cocaine, licorice, milk. Apart from being terrible consumables to offer a guest, they all have one thing in common: you can overdose on all of them.

In a case report from 2012, doctors describe how one 54-year-old man found himself in a hospital unit, after chugging an excess of cow's milk over the course of a couple of days. Far from just giving him really, really healthy bones, the man spent several days in the intensive care unit while doctors treated his "milky" blood.


The patient showed up at Maasstad Hospital in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, with a number of complaints. As well as shortness of breath and excessive sweating, he had an unquenchable thirst and was passing large volumes of urine. Two days prior to his admission, the patient had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by his general practitioner, but treatment with metformin had not improved his symptoms.

His heart rate was fast, his blood pressure high, and his glucose levels were even higher (in comparison to the normal range). When blood samples were taken, the doctors noticed further problems, his blood appeared milky. An unexpected explanation was soon found.

"Medical history revealed that to quench his thirst, the patient had drunk approximately 22 liters (i.e. five and a half gallons) of full fat milk per day for the past two days," his doctors note in the case report. "According to the nutritional value of milk, this implies 1,540 grams [54 ounces] of protein, 1,980 grams [70 ounces] of sugar and 1,496 grams [53 ounces] of fat in just two days."

The patient, given his "extremely high" glucose levels and triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) was transferred to intensive care, due to his substantial risk of developing acute pancreatitis. Here, he was treated with plasma exchange and short-acting insulin, successfully preventing the (incredibly painful and often life-threatening) onset of pancreatitis. After more monitoring, his blood returned to acceptable levels and he was discharged with insulin, metformin, and "lifestyle interventions", which presumably involved being told to lay off the milk.


"Drinking milk is generally considered to be healthy," the team concludes. "In this case report however, it is demonstrated that drinking a lot of milk can have serious implications. To our knowledge, such an increased level of triglycerides is one of the highest ever reported."

The paper is published in the International Journal of Clinical Medicine.


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