A new study reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology has found a potential link between consuming large amounts of dairy and an increased risk for Parkinson’s disease in men.

According to an article from Reuters Health, the researchers based their findings on detailed lifestyle and consumption information that was collected from 57,689 men and 73,175 women who were part of a cancer prevention study. During nine years of the study 250 men and 138 women were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The researchers found that those who ate the largest amounts of dairy foods had an increased risk for developing the disease — especially in men whose risk increased by 60 percent. The results were more ambiguous in women.  

The researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in North Carolina do say that more research is needed to understand the how and why of this potential link before they would recommend people reduce their intake of dairy.

In addition, dairy industry experts agree that more research is needed and that this new study needs to be put into context. Greg Miller, executive vice president of innovation, for Dairy Management Inc., offers these key points:

  • The findings of this study are based solely on observational data that cannot determine cause and effect. There is no research to suggest a casual link between dairy and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Parkinson's disease is a complex medical condition, with no known cause.  Scientists suggest the disease may result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, most notably linked to the aging process.
  • Dairy's positive role in the diet has been established through clinical trials, which are considered the "gold standard" for evaluating cause-and-effect relationships.
  • Science shows that consuming three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day helps people meet their daily calcium, potassium and other nutrient recommendations, and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, hypertension and obesity.
  • The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommends three servings of low-fat milk or milk products daily, because dairy foods provide so many of the key nutrients that Americans aren't getting enough of – including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A.
  • Dairy is doctor recommended.  Dairy's role in a healthy diet has long been established by the nutrition and science community.  This includes the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the Surgeon General, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association's Council of Scientific Affairs and many other leading health organizations. 

To read the article from Reuters Health go to: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070419/hl_nm/dairy_parkinsons_dc_1

Reuters Health, DMI