BOSTON — Frozen yogurt can be a great treat to cool you down on a hot summer day, but you know what they say about too many good things. In the case of frozen yogurt and other popular low-fat dairy products, too much increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a study has found.
Researchers from Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health say that consuming three or more servings of low-fat dairy products per day increases the risk of Parkinson’s more than just one serving daily. Similarly, a person who consumes one serving of low-fat dairy products daily is more likely to develop the disease than someone who consumes one serving per week.
The authors reached their conclusion after reviewing a massive amount of data over a period of around 25 years. Dietary surveys and health information from over 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 disease during the study.
By looking at what dairy products the participants consumed – from butter to milk to yogurt – the researchers sought to establish a link between those who had developed Parkinson’s disease and the consumption of whole, low-fat or fat-free dairy products. .
Interestingly, whole dairy products showed no association with the debilitating neurological condition. However, researchers say that people who ate at least three servings of low-fat dairy products a day were 34% more likely to suffer from Parkinson’s disease than people who consume less than one serving a day. Meanwhile, people who ate at least one serving of low-fat dairy products daily were 39% more likely develop the disease than those who consumed less than one serving per entire week.
The researchers warn that the consumption of low-fat dairy products does not cause Parkinson’s disease, but that there is simply some sort of correlation stemming from the total consumption of dairy products. What causes this correlation is unclear.
“Our study is the largest analysis of dairy products and Parkinson’s disease to date,” says study author Katherine C. Hughes. in a report at the American Academy of Neurology. “The results provide evidence of a small increase in the risk of Parkinson’s disease with greater consumption of low-fat dairy products. These widely consumed dairy products could potentially be a modifiable risk factor for the disease.
Of course, the authors point out that while frequent consumption of low-quality dairy products might increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, the overall risk of a person developing the disease was still extremely low. Only 1% of the nearly 6,000 people in the study who ate at least three servings of low-fat dairy products a day ended up developing Parkinson’s disease, compared to 0.6% of the nearly 78,000 people who said have less than one serving a day.
The study findings are published this week in the online journal Neurology.
This article was first published on June 10, 2017.