Low-fat dairy may lower risk of type 2 diabetes in men

05/05/05

CHICAGO – Men who include more dairy products in their diets, especially low-fat varieties, may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the May 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 16 million people in the United States and 135 million people worldwide," the authors provide as background information. "Because management of diabetes and its complications, such as cardiovascular disease, amputation, blindness, and renal failure, imposes enormous medical and economic burdens, primary prevention has become a public health imperative. Recent studies have shown that diet and lifestyle modifications are important means of preventing type 2 diabetes."

Hyon K. Choi, M.D., Dr.P.H., from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and colleagues from Harvard School of Public Health, analyzed data from 41,254 male participants with no history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer at the start of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

"During 12 years of follow-up, we documented 1,243 [new] cases of type 2 diabetes," the researchers report. "Each serving-per-day increase in total dairy intake was associated with a nine percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes." The researchers note: "When we examined the association with dairy products stratified by their fat contents, the significant inverse association was primarily limited to low-fat dairy consumption. Most individual low-fat dairy products and ice cream showed a similar inverse trend but only skim milk reached statistical significance."

"In conclusion, dietary patterns characterized by higher dairy intake, especially low-fat dairy intake, may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes," the authors state.

(Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:997-1003. Available post-embargo at www.archinternmed.com)

Editor's Note: This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

Editorial: The Milk Debate

In an accompanying editorial, Janet C. King, Ph.D., from Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, Calif., writes that "…it is evident that milk contains a number of bioactive components beyond amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. … Research shows that the role of dairy foods in health is very complex and probably varies with the genotype and phenotype of the individual. The study by Choi et al is a further reminder of the potential importance of dairy intake and the continuing value of research in this area."

(Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:975-976. Available post-embargo at www.archinternmed.com)

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