New research in the journal Diabetes Care shows that consuming lowfat dairy products may help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in women.

In the study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and UCLA analyzed data from the Women’s Health Study which tracked 37,183 women for 10 years. The average age of study participants was 50 years of age. At the start of the study none of the women had diabetes. By the end of the study, 1,603 women had developed type 2 diabetes.

Results show that women with the highest intake of dairy foods were 21 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest dairy intakes. In addition, the researchers reported that each serving increase per day of dairy reduced diabetes risk by about 4 percent.

The researchers say the benefit received from a high intake of low-fat dairy foods on diabetes risk in the study was independent of dietary calcium and vitamin D.

While the researchers did adjust for factors such as weight, physical activity, family history of disease, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol consumption, use of hormones, and high cholesterol, they caution that more research is needed to confirm their findings.

The research was reported in the July 2006 issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

Reuters Health, CBS News, Diabetes Care