Dairy Products Defend Against Diabetes

Even low-fat ice cream may offer some protection, study suggests

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TUESDAY, May 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Milk, ice cream and other dairy products, especially low-fat varieties, may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in men, a new study claims.

Reporting in the May 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data on more than 41,000 men with no prior history of diabetes, heart disease or cancer at the start of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

"During 12 years of follow-up, we documented 1,243 (new) cases of type 2 diabetes," the team reported. They found that "each serving-per-day increase in total dairy intake was associated with a 9 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes."

The diabetes-fighting effects of dairy "was primarily limited to low-fat dairy consumption," the Boston experts stressed. And they noted that while most low-fat dairy products -- even ice cream -- seemed to reduce type 2 diabetes, "only skim milk reached statistical significance."

"In conclusion," they said, "dietary patterns characterized by higher dairy intake, especially low-fat dairy intake, may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes."

In her accompanying editorial, Janet C. King of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California, wrote that, "it is evident that milk contains a number of bioreactive components beyond amino acids, vitamins and minerals."

"Research shows that the role of dairy foods in health is very complex and probably varies with the [genetics] of the individual," King wrote.

She said this study "is a further reminder of the potential importance of diary intake and the continuing value of research in this area."

The study was funded, in part, by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

More information

The American Diabetes Association has information about diabetes prevention.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, May 9, 2005

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