Today on a skeptical discussion board there was a post noting a recent 2007 study regarding a possible link between dairy products and Parkinson’s disease. In it, researchers found a possible association between men and women who consume dairy products and an increase in Parkinson’s. This particular study relied on a cohort study ; “The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Cancer Prevention Study 11 Nutrition Cohort,” that originally was designed to search for population links to cancer.
The studies findings piqued my interest as this is the latest of several publications probing different questions with respect to dairy intake and possible health risks. Many of these studies also pooled from the ACS cohort group while others used different cohorts or data sources.
To date, no broad negative conclusions can be unequivocally made about dairy consumption. Several studies evidence a real benefit in relation to calcium deposition in younger individuals and postmenopausal women. However, there is a 2002 study linking dairy elements (dairy sourced Ca++, lactose, protein, and vitamin D) to Parkinson’s again in men, and another cohort study alludes to a possible association to dairy Ca++ or some other dairy component and increased prostrate cancer risk, and yet another contradicts this one. A variety of inquiries have looked into any possible links to breast, renal, ovarian cancer, and found none. Some relationships to obesity prevention have shown promise, but so far haven’t panned out.
The conclusions of the study seemed to contradict a plethora of other studies- not terribly alarming in and of itself: “CONCLUSION: Scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk or other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralization.”
However, looking deeper into the methodology and results, something just did not look right; “A Medline (National Library of Medicine,
For one thing, it appeared there was no consideration for the differing level and weights of evidence based on study type. The study appears in Pediatrics (described as the official journal of the
The suspicion that something was not right with the science here led me to look into the studies origin and this is when red flags began to pop up. The studies address describes an organization called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
A Google search pulled up a web site describing a typical nonprofit:
So the plot thickens from a seemingly innocent study in Pediatrics Journal to, as one digs deeper, an organization with a vested interest in promoting a dairy health risk agenda. But it gets better!
A perusal of the PCRM advisory board reveals a veritable who’s who of quackery oriented individuals:
"Barnard extols the virtues of strict vegetarian (vegan) diets. He claims that when it comes to life span "It's not genetics or fate that gives people long, healthy lives and cuts other people short; for those who want to take care of themselves, it all comes down to diet."
"As defined by Weil, and by most of the other gurus of alternative medicine, alternative and mainstream medicines are not simply different methods of treating illness. They are basically incompatible views of reality and how the material world works, and they cannot easily be combined into any rational and coherent "integrated" curriculum."
"In Spring 2002, my wife Karen and I began researching the career of my father, Henry J. Heimlich MD, the
“Perlmutter and his staff rely upon a variety of complementary health techniques including vitamin therapy, nutritional supplementation, herbal preparations, massage therapy, EDTA chelation therapy, and others to provide a comprehensive, fully integrated treatment plan specifically designed for the needs of the individual.”
How a person can start a simple data search on dairy consumption and health; end up in the bizarre world of extreme animal activists-and then suddenly find themselves knee deep among peddlers of psuedomedical alternative quackery is utterly mind blowing!