Dairy intake and Parkinson’s disease.




Annals of Neurology

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Parkinson's disease is a serious brain condition that results from nerve damage in certain regions of the brain that regulate the body's voluntary muscles. Also referred to as "PD," Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder that causes muscle rigidity, shaking, and slow difficult walking.1 PD usually strikes in mid to late adult life, although 30 percent of people with the disease experience symptoms before age 50. Another 40 percent develop the disease between ages 50 and 60. PD is a slowly progressive and incurable disease.2

Like all cells in the nervous system, brain neurons function in response to electrical impulses that travel with lightning speed from cell to cell. These impulses need assistance in order to jump from one neuron to the next. They get this help in the form of neurotransmitters, chemicals in the body that carry messages across the gaps between adjacent neurons. Without neurotransmitters, brain neurons would be isolated and alone, wholly unable to communicate with each other and with the rest of the body.

A study recently published in the Annals of Neurology investigated the role of diet in the risk of PD. This study involved two large cohort studies, which documented dietary intakes and cases of PD. All together 210 men and 184 women were diagnosed with PD. The results showed a positive correlation between dairy intake and PD risk in men, but not in women. No other food groups were associated with this risk. After examining these results further, the researchers found that this correlation was seen with dairy calcium, lactose, and dairy vitamin D. Although this link was not seen in women, the authors of this study stated that, higher intake of dairy products may increase the risk of PD in men; however, this finding needs further evaluation, and the underlying active components need to be identified.”3


1. Devising RC. Parkinson's Disease: A Guide For Patient and Family. New York: Raven Press; 1978;14:149.
2. Scott B, et al. Gender differences in Parkinson's disease symptom profile. Acta Neurol Scand. Jul2000;102(1):37-43.
3. Chen H, et al. Diet and Parkinson’s disease: Apotential role of dairy products in men. Ann Neur. Dec 2002: 52(6);793-801.