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Low fat dairy products linked to Parkinson's

Milk being poured into a Parkinson's UK mug

Higher consumption of low fat dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt may be linked to a modest increase in risk of Parkinson's, according to new research.

People who consumed 3 or more servings of low-fat dairy every day were slightly more likely to develop the condition than those who consumed less than 1 serving a day.

The research is published in the scientific journal Neurology.

About the study

In the study, researchers at Harvard analysed approximately 25 years of data on 80,736 women and 48,610 men.

It's really important to point out that the risk of developing Parkinson's was still very low.

Participants completed health questionnaires every 2 years and diet questionnaires every 4 years.

During that time, 1,036 people developed Parkinson's.

There was no link between full-fat dairy and risk of Parkinson's.

But those who consumed at least 3 servings of low-fat dairy a day had a 1% chance of developing Parkinson's over the 25-year period, compared to 0.6% in those who consumed less than 1 serving per day.

No need to cut dairy consumption

Our Head of Research Communications and Engagement, Claire Bale, comments:

There is no reason for people to make changes to their diet based on this research.

"This study highlights a potentially interesting connection between dairy products and Parkinson's, but fails to tell us how the two might be connected.

"It's really important to point out that the risk of developing Parkinson's was still very low (around 1 in 100), even in those who consumed lots of dairy, so there is no reason for people to make changes to their diet based on this research.

"Previous research has suggested that traces of pesticides in dairy products might be involved, and more recently there have been a number of studies suggesting that bacteria living in the gut may play a role, but there is much more research needed in this area.

"If we can understand more about how and why dietary factors influence Parkinson's, it could reveal exciting opportunities for developing urgently needed treatments that can slow, stop or even prevent the condition."