Low-fat dairy intake may raise Parkinson’s risk


Researchers have identified a link between higher intake of low-fat dairy and the risk of Parkinson’s. Low-fat dairy is often seen as a healthful alternative to the full-fat kind. But according to a new study, consuming higher amounts of low-fat dairy may raise the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers found that the risk of Parkinson’s disease was greater for adults who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy products every day, compared with those who consumed just one serving.
Study co-author Katherine C. Hughes, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Neurology. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder characterized by tremors, problems with movement, impaired balance or coordination, and muscle rigidity.
According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, up to 1 million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease, and around 60,000 U.S. adults are diagnosed with the condition annually.
Previous studies have suggested that there may be a link between the consumption of dairy products, particularly milk, and increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Hughes and colleagues set out to investigate this association further with their new study, which involved an analysis of around 25 years worth of data from more than 120,000 men and women.
The study included a total of 80,736 women who were a part of the Nurses’ Health Study, as well as 48,610 men who were enrolled in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study. Every 2 years, study participants completed a health questionnaire, while a dietary questionnaire was completed every 4 years. The researchers used the latter to assess what types of low-fat and full-fat dairy products subjects consumed – including milk, cream, cheese, butter, ice cream, and sherbet – as well as the frequency of dairy intake.
Over 25 years of study, a total of 1,036 participants developed Parkinson’s disease. Compared with participants who consumed less than one serving of dairy every day, subjects who consumed at least three servings daily were found have a 34 percent greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. What is more, the team found that the risk of Parkinson’s could be linked specifically to milk intake; subjects who consumed at least one serving of skim milk or low-fat milk every day had a 39 percent increased risk of Parkinson’s, compared with those who drank less than one serving per week.

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