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 shows.
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 cream.
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.
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.