Low-fat dairy foods may help reduce
risk of type 2 diabetes
Study finds men who consume more
dairy products have lower incidence of diabetes
BOSTON - May 9, 2005 - The consumption of low-fat dairy foods
may reduce men's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to
a study in the May 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
The report from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH),
Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Brigham and Women's Hospital
(BWH) - the first large-scale, prospective examination of a relationship
between dairy intake and diabetes risk - analyzes data from the
Professionals Follow-up Study.
"Our study found that men consuming higher levels of dairy
products, especially low-fat dairy foods, had a significantly lower
risk of developing type 2 diabetes during a 12-year period,"
says Hyon Choi, MD, DrPH, director of Outcomes Research in the MGH
Rheumatology Unit, the paper's lead author. "However, individuals
should consider both the benefits and risks of dairy foods before
considering changing their diets."
Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and weight are established
risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Several recent studies have suggested
that dairy consumption may help control weight and blood pressure
and reduce the risks of health problems such as coronary artery
disease and gout. Other research has implied that dairy foods could
help prevent insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers conducted the current study to directly examine
the relationship between dairy consumption and diabetes.
Initiated in 1986, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study has
gathered information regarding the relationship between dietary
factors and several illnesses from more than 50,000 men employed
in the health professions. Every two years participants complete
questionnaires regarding their diseases and health-related topics
like smoking and exercise, and every four years the questionnaires
also collect comprehensive dietary information.
The current study evaluated information from more than 41,000 participants
who did not have diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer when
the study began. Those men who reported developing type 2 diabetes
during the study period completed a supplementary survey, which
confirmed the diagnosis in about 1,200 participants. The researchers
then analyzed the dietary information all participants provided
in 1986, 1990 and 1994 to determine how diet related to their risk
of developing diabetes.
Results showed that those men consuming higher levels of dairy
foods had significantly less risk of developing type 2 diabetes
than did those consuming the lowest levels, and further analysis
showed the risk reduction was almost exclusively associated with
low-fat or non-fat dairy foods. In general, each serving-per-day
increase in dairy intake resulted in a 9 percent reduction in the
risk of developing the disorder. Controlling for consumption of
several other types of food, activity level and family history did
not change the association.
"Additional studies will be required both to confirm this
relationship and to see if the results apply to women or to men
younger than this group, who were in their 50s when they joined
the study," says Choi. "Another question to be investigated
would be whether adjusting dairy intake could be helpful to people
with established type 2 diabetes, and the mechanism behind any relation
between dairy intake and diabetes risk also needs to be clarified."
Choi is an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His
co-authors are senior author Frank Hu, MD, PhD; Walter Willett,
MD, DrPH; Meir Stampfer, Md, DrPH; and Eric Rimm, ScD; all of HSPH
and the Channing Laboratory at BWH. The study was supported by grants
from the National Institutes of Health.
Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original
and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH
conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United
States, with an annual research budget of more than $450 million
and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer,
cutaneous biology, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders,
transplantation biology and photomedicine. In 1994, MGH and Brigham
and Women's Hospital joined to form Partners HealthCare System,
an integrated health care delivery system comprising the two academic
medical centers, specialty and community hospitals, a network of
physician groups, and nonacute and home health services.
Media Contacts: Sue
McGreevey, MGH Public Affairs
Kevin Myron, HSPH
Physician Referral Service: 1-800-388-4644
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