Ice Cream Equated with Better Fertility?

by Sally Tusa
A recent study may have women trying to get pregnant screaming for ice cream.

ice cream sundaesResearchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that women who eat a lot of high-fat dairy foods -- like whole milk, cream cheese and yes, even ice cream -- may have better fertility than women who eat the low-fat versions of these products.

Their data, published in the the journal Human Reproduction, showed that women who consumed five or more servings per week of low-fat dairy foods had a greater risk of developing anovulatory infertility, a type of infertility caused by dysfunctional ovaries. At the same time, women who ate high-fat dairy products had a lower risk of this condition.

But don't run out and raid your local ice cream parlor just yet. Some doctors are skeptical about the implications of the research. "The quality of the study and the way it was done really limits the recommendations we can take from it," said Dr. Jamie Grifo, program director of the New York University Fertility Center, in Manhattan.

Grifo is concerned about the results of the study because, in it, researchers asked more than 18,000 women who had a good chance of becoming pregnant to recall the foods they'd eaten over the course of a year. "I get very concerned about the accuracy of data when memory is concerned," he said.

From this study, the researchers concluded that there is probably a substance in dairy products that has an affect on fertility, but Dr. Lee Shulman, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois, isn't so convinced. "There are too many factors that can affect ovulation."

Shulman said it's important to take a look at what's in dairy products and continue further study, but at this stage "it's too hard to make a blanket statement."

Grifo believes that women who are trying to become pregnant should strive for a balanced diet that includes some fat, but eating too much high-fat food and gaining too much weight brings on its own set of risks and should be avoided.

"You need fat at this stage," he said, "but the type of fat you eat is important. Avoid sugar and trans fats, and eat healthfully and normally."

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