SARASOTA – At least one million Americans live with Parkinson’s Disease, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. New research suggests the type of milk we use may contribute to that number
Cutting calories with skim milk, low fat cheese, or nonfat yogurt may save you a pound or two, but at what price? “You have dairy products, especially low fat dairy products three times a day or more for most of your life, you have a higher risk of getting Parkinson’s,” says Neurologist Dean Sutherland.
Sutherland says the study from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health is concerning for people who have a lot of low fat dairy products, but it’s not surprising. “Uric acid which is in your blood, it’s a normal product in your blood, the higher you have levels of uric acid in your blood, the less likely you are to get Parkinson’s,” explains Sutherland.
He says all milk products lower uric acid.
“Uric acid for some reason seems to have some neuro-protective effect in the brain,” says Sutherland. “So when you have Parkinson’s you lose cells in the brain that produce dopamine, so when the levels of uric acid are higher it seems to preserve those cells.”
It’s not just uric acid we need to worry about, that glass of milk also has harmful pesticides. “Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, even some cleaning solutions like in the dry cleaning business have been associated with Parkinson’s,” says Sutherland.
There is good news. The study found no correlation between whole milk and Parkinson’s. So if you’re exercising often and watching your dairy intake, you may be in the clear. “If you’re drinking skim milk or taking in dairy products three times a day you’re taking in more dairy products than most people would,” says Sutherland.
Researchers emphasized the study does not mean low–fat dairy is a direct “cause” of Parkinson’s, but the link between the two is concerning and more research should be done.