Cancer: dairy products linked to increased risk

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The dairy products are often advocated for their many virtuesincluding their contribution calciumelement essential for bone growth. But if they are beneficial for our body, consuming too much can be harmful.

This is shown by this recent American-Chinese study published on May 6, 2022 published in the media BMC Medicine. In this research, researchers from Oxford Population Health, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing investigated how whose dairy products influence cancer risk among the Chinese.

Dairy products: an eleven-year study

For this research, the scientists followed 510,000 participants with no history of cancer for eleven years. Among them there was 59% women and 41% men from ten different regions of China (five rural and five urban). At the start of the study, the volunteers, aged 30 to 79 were asked to answer a questionnaire on their frequency of consumption of food products, including dairy products.

These initial results have allowed experts to divide them into three groups:

  • Regular consumers : those who take it at least once a week;
  • Monthly consumers ;
  • Non-consumers : those who never or very rarely take it.

For their study, they also used the data from national registers of cancer and of deathas well as health insurance records to identify new cancer diagnoses.

They also took into account different factors such as age, gender, region, family history of cancer, lifestyle or physical activity.

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Dairy products: risk of cancer increased by up to 17%

Research has found that 20% of participants regularly consumed products (mostly milk), 11% consumed little and 69% very rarely. Average consumption was 38 g per day among all participants, and 81 g among regular consumers.

During the study, 29,277 new cases of cancer were diagnosed. Among them, the highest was lung cancer with 6,282 cases, followed by:

The results showed that people who consumed dairy products had a significantly higher risk to develop liver or breast cancer. For a taking of 50g of dairy product per daythe risk increased from 12 to 17%. Regular consumption was also associated at an increased risk of lymphoma.

For other types of cancer, no association was made with the consumption of dairy products.

Further research needed

This research not showing causationothers are needed according to the researchers.

“This was the first major study to study the link between dairy products and the risk of cancer in a Chinese population. Further studies are needed to validate these current results, establish whether these associations are causal and investigate the potential underlying mechanisms involved.” explains Dr. Maria Kakkoura, nutritional epidemiologist at Oxford Population Health and author of the study.

“Although our results suggest that there may be a direct link between regular consumption of dairy products and certain cancers, it is important to know that dairy products are a source of protein, vitamins and minerals. It would not be prudent to reduce the consumption of dairy products solely on the basis of the results of the current study or without ensuring adequate intake of protein, vitamins and minerals from other sources.”, warns Associate Professor Huaidong Du, principal investigator at Oxford Population Health, and author of the study.

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