“Our study found that men consuming higher levels of dairy products, especially low-fat dairy foods, had a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes during a 12-year period,” says Hyon Choi, M.D., Dr.PH, director of Outcomes Research in the MGH Rheumatology Unit and the paper’s lead author.
Recent research has implied that dairy foods could help prevent insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes. The researchers conducted the current study to directly examine the relationship between dairy consumption and diabetes.
Initiated in 1986, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study has gathered information regarding the relationship between dietary factors and several illnesses from more than 50,000 men employed as health professionals. Biennially, participants complete questionnaires regarding diseases and health-related topics such as smoking and exercise, and every four years the questionnaires also collect comprehensive dietary information.
The current study evaluated information from more than 41,000 participants who did not have diabetes when the study began. Those men who reported developing type 2 diabetes during the study period completed a supplementary survey, which confirmed the diagnosis in about 1,200 participants.
Results showed that those men consuming more dairy had significantly less risk of developing type 2 diabetes than did those consuming less, and further analysis showed the risk reduction was almost exclusively associated with low-fat or non-fat dairy foods.
Choi says that it is still to be determined whether these results apply to women and younger men, or whether dairy could be helpful to those already suffering from diabetes.