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article imageConsuming low-fat dairy possibly linked with Parkinson's disease

By Tim Sandle     Jun 8, 2017 in Science
A new study has found consuming at three servings or more of low-fat dairy a day is associated with a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
The research compares the consumption of three or more servings of low-fat dairy with consuming less than one serving a day. The findings also drew an association between drinking more than one serving of low-fat or skim milk per day with a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease, when this pattern was compared to drinking less than one serving per week. The research, reported by the American Academy of Neurology, is based on a large study. The analysis was drawn from the medical records of 80,736 women who enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study together with records of 48,610 men, who enrolled in the Health Professionals' Follow-up Study.
The medical records and questionnaires were reviewed over a 25 year period. During this time, 1036 people went onto develop Parkinson's disease. Since the records included diet, this allowed the researchers to make the association.
Parkinson's disease is a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, where the disease primarily affects the motor system. The disease symptoms develop slowly over time, and include shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement. Dementia becomes common in the advanced stages of the disease.
According to the lead researcher Dr. Katherine C. Hughes, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston: "The results provide evidence of a modest increased risk of Parkinson's with greater consumption of low-fat dairy products. Such dairy products, which are widely consumed, could potentially be a modifiable risk factor for the disease."
As pat of the study full-fat dairy, as whole milk, was examined to see if there was an associated with a risk of Parkinson's disease. The study concluded there was no association.
It is important to point out that the findings do not show that dairy products cause Parkinson's disease. What the study results indelicate is an association, and this association may also be due to other factors. Moreover the study does not consider behaviors or motivations. For instance it could be that early Parkinson's symptoms may affect the dietary behaviors. The researchers recognize that further research is required.
The research has been reported to the journal Neurology, under the heading "Baseline motor findings and Parkinson disease prognostic subtypes."
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