Dairy products are being linked to a rise in infection rates among people with type 1 diabetes, according to a new analysis of a large database of clinical trials.
The analysis, published in the British Medical Journal, is one of the first to examine the impact of low lactose, a common sugar found in dairy products and dairy products that are often fortified with other sugar, on infections among people who have the disease.
Researchers used data from more than 100,000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a follow-up to a question about the prevalence of type 1 diabetics, to find that the number of infections among participants who had low lactase levels was significantly higher than those who did not.
Low lactase-related infections were also associated with higher levels of diabetes and higher prevalence of certain risk factors, such as hypertension and obesity.
People who ate low-fat dairy products were at increased risk of infection compared with those who ate high-fat, fortified dairy products.
People with diabetes had an increased risk in both the number and the severity of infections with infections from both low and high lactase.
A person with type 2 diabetes had about a 1.5-in-10 chance of contracting an infection, according, to the authors.
“Our analysis provides clear evidence that the prevalence and severity of type 2 diabetias are linked to consumption of dairy products,” said lead author Dr. Andrew Nesbit, a diabetes specialist at the University of Oxford.
“We are still at an early stage, but our findings provide clear evidence of a link between dairy consumption and a greater risk of infections in people with diabetes.”
Researchers said they are not sure why the increase in infections was seen in people who ate dairy products but didn’t have diabetes.
Nesbet said that the new study, while limited, was a good first step in determining the true impact of lactose on people with the disease, since the disease has only been discovered in people living with type-1 diabetes.
He said it is also important to consider the potential for the effects of low-lactose dairy consumption to be influenced by factors such as whether people are able to produce enough lactase, such that the level of lactase in their blood is not increased.
The authors said that it is possible that lactose consumption may be the only factor that is directly related to diabetes risk in people, but further research is needed to tease out the full impact of dairy consumption on type 1 and type 2 Diabetics.