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Drinking Milk May Raise Parkinson's Risk in Men

The above headline comes from the April 6, 2004 Reuters Health reporting on a study published in the medical journal Neurology. A new study suggests that middle-aged men who drink a glass or two of milk each day may be increasing their risk of developing Parkinson's disease. The study notes that the risk does not include women.

This new study supports the results of an earlier report linking high consumption of dairy products with an elevated risk of Parkinson's disease among men. In this recent study 7504 men between the age of 45 and 68 years, were enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program and followed for 30 years for the development of Parkinson's disease. Of all the participants a total of 128 developed Parkinson's disease during follow-up.

Dr. R. D. Abbott, from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, and colleagues noted that the risk of Parkinson's disease increased with increase in the amount of milk consumed each day. The final statistical analysis showed that heavy milk drinkers were 2.3-times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than non-milk drinkers

In all, researchers found that the risk of Parkinson's disease was small. The researchers noted that over a period of a year, 6.9 cases of the disease would normally be expected among 10,000 people who did not drink milk each day. That number rose to, 14.9 cases per 10,000 people who drank more than 16 ounces of milk per day.

The authors ruled out calcium as the contributing factor as they could find no relationship that calcium either from dairy or non-dairy sources, had any effect on the risk of Parkinson's disease. They concluded that some other component in milk must be responsible for the increase in the cases of Parkinson's.