BOSTON — Frozen yogurt may be a good treat to cool you down on a hot summer day, but you know what they say about too much of good thing. In the case frozen yogurt and other popular low-fat dairy products, too much raises a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, one study finds.
Researchers from Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health say that having three or more servings of low-fat dairy products a day boosts Parkinson’s risk more than a daily single serving. Similarly, a person who consumes one serving of low-fat dairy daily is more likely to develop the disease than someone who consumes one serving in a week.
The authors reached their conclusion after examining a massive amount of data from a span of about 25 years. Dietary surveys and health information from more than 80,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 48,000 men from the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study were used. The researchers found that 1,036 participants had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s during the study.
In looking at which dairy products participants consumed — everything from butter to milk to yogurt — the researchers sought to make a connection between those who had developed Parkinson’s and consumption of full-fat, low-fat, or non-fat dairy.
Interestingly, full-fat dairy products showed no link to the debilitating neurological condition. However, researchers say that people who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy daily were 34 percent more likely to suffer from Parkinson’s than people who have less than one serving a day. Meanwhile, people who consumed at least one serving of low-fat dairy daily were 39 percent more likely to develop the disease than those who consumed less than one serving in an entire week.
The researchers caution that eating low-fat dairy doesn’t cause Parkinson’s disease, rather there is simply some sort of correlation stemming from one’s entire dairy intake. What causes that correlation is not clear.
“Our study is the largest analysis of dairy and Parkinson’s to date,” says study author Katherine C. Hughes in a statement to the American Academy of Neurology. “The results provide evidence of a modest increased risk of Parkinson’s with greater consumption of low-fat dairy products. Such dairy products, which are widely consumed, could potentially be a modifiable risk factor for the disease.”
Of course, the authors point out that while frequent consumption of low-fair dairy might boost the odds of Parkinson’s, the overall chances of a person developing the disease were still tremendously low. Just 1 percent of the nearly 6,000 people in the study who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy products daily wound up developing Parkinson’s disease, compared to 0.6 percent of the nearly 78,000 who reported having less than one serving a day.
The study’s findings are published this week in the online journal Neurology.
This post was first published on June 10, 2017.