Low-fat dairy causes infertility

// 28 February 2007

van halen soaked in milkA team of Harvard boffins recently discovered that low-fat milk and yoghurt could precipitate female infertility, according to a report in The Times today.

The study, carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health, discovered that women who consume a lot of low-fat dairy products were 85% more likely to fail to ovulate that their full-fat milk chugging peers. The report found that women who had at least one serving of high-fat dairy products a day were 27% less likely to suffer this form of infertility than those who restricted their intake of dairy products to one a week.

The study tracked the fertility history of more than 18,000 married nurses who had either become pregnant or attempted to do so during an eight-year period in the 1990s. Their success, or failure to conceive, was considered in relation to their dietary habits, which had been recorded previously. Of the 3,430 cases of infertility identified, 438 were precipitated by a failure to ovulate.

Dr Chavarro, the team leader, advised that women wanting to conceive:

“…should consider changing low-fat dairy foods for high-fat dairy foods; for instance, by swapping skimmed milk for whole milk and eating ice-cream, not low-fat yoghurt.”

But he continued that once they are pregnant:

“…they should probably switch back to low-fat dairy foods as it is easier to limit intake of saturated fat by consuming low-fat dairy foods”.

He went on to look at the significance of the study since:

“Clarifying the role of dairy foods intake on fertility is particularly important since the current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume three or more daily servings of low-fat milk or equivalent dairy products.”

What this news highlights is that the push to encourage us to consume low-calorie, low-fat foods as a means of staving off illness and health defects may have some detrimental consequences. If nothing else, what these findings demonstrate is that maybe, in moderation, that cheeky Mars Bar or chocolate milk shake isn’t such a bad idea? Finally!

Photo (of Van Halen soaked in milk) by Ms Meow, shared under a Creative Commons license

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