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Dairy Products Increase Deaths from Breast Cancer

A new study shows that choosing between high-fat and low-fat dairy products can make a difference for breast cancer survival. Candyce Kroenke, ScD, MPH, from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California reports that their study is the first to show the association between these factors and breast cancer mortality.

The observational study published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that a high-fat dairy intake of at least half a serving daily increased the risk of dying from the disease breast cancer while consuming low-fat dairy did not affect recurrence or survival.

Previous studies have shown that dairy product consumption is associated with other hormonal cancers, such as prostate, endometrial, and ovarian cancer. The authors conducted the new study to determine whether dairy products may be a source of estrogenic hormones, which might affect breast cancer survival.

The investigation included 1893 women with early-stage invasive breast cancer from 1997 to 2000 who were asked to complete a Food Frequency Questionnaire after diagnosis. During their follow-up of about 12 years, 349 women had a recurrence of the disease while 372 died, of which 189 died from breast cancer. Analysis of data showed that mortality was higher in women who consumed half to one serving of high-fat dairy daily than in those who consumed less than half a serving. The authors report that the higher risk was consistent across different types of high-fat dairy products, including ice cream.

Although a cause-and-effect relationship was not established, Dr. Kroenke suggests that consuming nonfat dairy products or plant-based milks may a reasonable option for limiting the risk of adverse outcomes in breast cancer patients and survivors.


Mulcahy, N. High-Fat Dairy May Increase Risk for Breast Cancer Death. Medscape.


Posted in: Breast Cancer, Cancer, Dairy Products, Food, News Briefs

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