A new study shows that if you don’t eat dairy, you may not be able to pass on the bacteria that can cause cheese poisoning.
In the study, published online March 12 in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists from Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Michigan analyzed data from more than 4,000 individuals who were hospitalized with a food poisoning, including patients with gastroenteritis, a gastrointestinal disease that can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
The study also found that those who ate dairy were less likely to develop the disease, compared with people who did not eat dairy.
The results suggest that people who avoid dairy may be able keep the bacteria from spreading to their bodies by drinking milk, the authors wrote.
“We were interested in how dairy consumption relates to dairy-associated illness,” said co-author Elizabeth K. Nunn, an assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard School.
“In this study, we found that people with gastroesophageal reflux disease who were on dairy products had significantly lower rates of infection than those who did NOT eat dairy.”
While the study found no correlation between dairy consumption and food poisoning overall, it did suggest that certain types of dairy might be associated with a higher risk of infection.
For example, the researchers found that the risk of acquiring food poisoning was higher in people who ate at least six ounces of dairy per day, compared to those who consumed less than that amount.
Other studies have shown that certain dairy products may increase the risk for infection, such as milk and cream.
The researchers, however, weren’t able to determine if people who were eating dairy in moderation or were taking other medications that could lower the risk.
In addition, they couldn’t find evidence that people eating dairy were more likely to have diarrhea, stomach cramps or other health problems.
“The fact that there’s no evidence that milk consumption increases risk for food poisoning or food poisoning risk factors, even among people who don’t have any disease at all, is very concerning,” Nunn said.
“People who aren’t eating dairy are putting themselves at increased risk for developing food poisoning.”
The researchers said that more research is needed to understand why people with food poisoning are less likely than other people to develop a foodborne illness.
“It is not clear whether these associations are due to the dairy products themselves, which we don’t know,” Nill said.
The findings were published in the March 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
More stories from the United States