Dairy Foods May Help Prevent Diabetes
Study Shows Women Who Ate Low-Fat Dairy Products Were Less Likely to Develop Type 2 Diabetes
July 11, 2006 -- A diet rich in low-fat dairy products may cut a woman's
risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study
The report, published in the journal Diabetes Care, comes from
researcher Simin Liu, MD, ScD, and colleagues. Liu works at the Harvard School
of Public Health, Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, and UCLA.
Liu's team didn't directly test dairy products for diabetes prevention, and
they're not making any recommendations just yet. But the researchers noticed
that over a decade, middle-aged women were less likely to be diagnosed with
type 2 diabetes if they frequently ate dairy products.
In fact, each additional daily dairy serving was associated with a 4% drop
in diabetes risk, the researchers note.
Liu and colleagues analyzed data from the Women's Health Study, which
included more than 37,000 female health professionals (average age: mid-50s).
At the study's start, none had diabetes.
The women completed surveys about their eating habits. The questionnaires
covered approximately 130 foods and beverages, including skim milk, whole milk,
yogurt, sherbet, cottage cheese, ice cream, cheese, cream cheese, and sour
The surveys also asked about the use of supplements containing calcium and
Other data covered BMI (body mass index), smoking status, alcohol use,
exercise, other dietary factors (such as fiber consumption), use of
postmenopausal hormone therapy, and family history of diabetes.
Diabetes & Dairy
The women were followed for a decade, on average. During that time, a total
of 1,603 women were diagnosed with diabetes.
Women with the highest dietary calcium intake were about 20% less likely to
be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than the ones who consumed the least amount
Adjusting for diabetes risk factors didn't change the results, the
researchers note. They add that the findings were stronger for low-fat dairy
products than for high-fat dairy items.
Diabetes often goes undiagnosed. But in this study, 85% to 90% of the women
got blood glucose (sugar) screenings for diabetes, which should have reduced
the likelihood of undiagnosed diabetes cases, write Liu and colleagues.