Low-Fat Dairy Increases Risk for Parkinson’s Disease

The frequent consumption of low-fat dairy products is associated with an increased risk for developing Parkinson’s Disease, according to a new study.

Parkinson’s Disease has been known to come with both genetic and environmental associations. Previous studies on the links between diet and the disease have shown other dietary causations. But a specific relationship between low-fat dairy and Parkinson’s is new.

Connection Between Low-Fat Dairy and Parkinson’s Disease

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation describes Parkinson’s as “a chronic and progressive movement disorder”, with an estimated one million people in the U.S. alone suffering from this potentially debilitating condition. The symptoms of the disease worsen as the disease progresses, spanning from tremors, rigid muscles, impaired balance and posture, and changes in speech, to problems performing unconscious movements, such as smiling or blinking.

Published in the June 2017 issue of Neurology, researchers suggest reconsidering low-fat dairy as a health food, when it comes to some conditions and diseases.

Lead researcher Katherine C. Hughes, Sc.D., at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, analyzed data from up to 26 years where participants consumed dairy products. Their meta-analysis concluded that 1,036 out of 130,000 participants developed Parkinson’s. Although the risks were ‘low’, they were concerning.

Most alarming was that, when compared to people who did not consume dairy products at all, those “who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy a day had a 34 percent increased risk of developing Parkinson’s”.

Skim and low-fat milk were the two most causative factor when compared to other types of dairy products.

Those Concerned with Developing Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers do not suggest that everyone should immediately cease the consumption of low-fat dairy products. Hughes says low-fat dairy is, for example, a critical factor in providing the calcium that is necessary for healthy bone formation, as well as Vitamin D and many other crucial vitamins and minerals. However, their results advise additional study on the potential risks versus benefits of these foods in the general public.

What should you do? Experts recommend following three take-away tips when it comes to the association of these food items and Parkinson’s Disease:

#1 – Don’t give up on dairy items completely, as they can still be critical components of a healthy diet.

#2 – Don’t consume low-fat dairy items, those most causatively linked with Parkinson’s.

#3 – The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation can answer additional questions, via their National HelpLine at (800) 457-6676 or info@pdf.org.

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