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Low-fat dairy foods may lower women's diabetes risk

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, July 7 (Reuters) A diet that includes lots of low-fat dairy products may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in women, new research suggests.

Although a series of recent studies suggests that a high level of dairy foods in the diet may lower the risk of being overweight or developing insulin resistance syndrome, studies that have examined the link between these factors and diabetes risk are sparse, Dr Simin Liu, from the University of California Los Angeles School of Public Health and colleagues note.

They therefore looked for the relationship between type 2 diabetes and dietary levels of dairy foods and calcium in 37,183 women in the Women's Health Study. A total of 1,603 women developed diabetes during an average follow-up of 10 years.

''The most important finding is that women who consumed more low-fat dairy foods tended to experience a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in a period of 10 years,'' Liu told Reuters Health.

After adjusting for potentially confounding factors such as weight, physical activity, and family history of diabetes, women with the highest intake of dairy foods were 21 per cent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest intake, Liu's team reports in the journal Diabetes Care.

''Each serving-per-day increase in dairy intake was associated with a 4-per cent lower risk.'' The benefit of a high intake of low-fat dairy foods on type 2 diabetes risk was independent of dietary calcium and vitamin D. This is the first study, the authors add, to tease out the effects of dairy food intake from those of dietary calcium and vitamin D.

''The message,'' said Liu, ''is that low-fat dairy foods can be incorporated into a healthy diet that may lower a woman's risk of diabetes.'' The apparent anti-diabetes effect of a low-fat dairy-packed diet seen in the current study of women mirrors that shown previously in men.

However, Liu and colleagues caution that further studies are needed to confirm their observations ''before public health measures to increase dairy consumption can be recommended for prevention of type 2 diabetes.'' REUTERS AD RN0858

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