Prostate cancer: Doctor outlines symptoms you might experience
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Our diet plays a huge role in our health and wellbeing. It is widely accepted that certain foods can raise our risk for certain problems – such as saturated fats and the link with high cholesterol. However, there is one drink that has been shown to increase the risk of both breast and prostate cancer.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Doctor Shireen Kassam – consultant haematologist, lecturer and founder of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, warned about some of the risks of drinking milk.
She said: “Even though certain animal-derived foods such as dairy are considered healthy despite the processing involved, these foods do not provide the same level of protection against cancer.
“In fact, dairy consumption has been consistently associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer and may increase the risk of breast cancer.”
A study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2020, looked at the link between milk and breast cancer.
As part of the research the team considered data on more than 52,700 North American Women who were initially cancer free.
They completed food frequency questionnaires, and more than 1,000 filled out six 24 hour dietary recalls – a quick questionnaire about the last 24 hours.
Participants were followed for eight years, with breast cancer diagnoses noted. In that time there were 1,057 new cases of breast cancer.
Researchers then found links between certain products consumed and the rates of disease.
The study said: “No clear associations were found between soy products and breast cancer, independently of dairy.
“However, higher intakes of dairy calories and dairy milk were associated with hazard ratios (HRs) of 1.22, respectively, comparing 90th to 10th percentiles of intakes.
“Full fat and reduced fat milks produced similar results. No important associations were noted with cheese and yoghurt.”
It concluded: “Higher intakes of dairy milk were associated with greater risk of breast cancer, when adjusted for soy intake. Current guidelines for dairy milk consumption could be viewed with some caution.”
Separate research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2022, established a link between prostate cancer and dairy.
Similar to the other study, participants, of which there were more than 28,000 men, completed food frequency questionnaires and 24 hour dietary recalls to establish what they were consuming.
Over the next eight years 1,254 cases of prostate cancer – including 190 advanced cases – were diagnosed.
The study said: “Men at the 90th percentile of dairy intake (430 grams a day) compared with the 10th percentile (20.2 grams a day) had higher prostate cancer risk.
“Similar findings, comparing the same grams per day intakes, were demonstrated for advanced prostate cancers, for non-advanced cases, in black participants, and when excluding vegan participants.”
It added: “Men with higher intake of dairy foods, but not non dairy calcium, had a higher risk of prostate cancer compared with men having lower intakes. Associations were nonlinear, suggesting greatest increases in risk at relatively low doses.”
However, there is some debate as to whether milk can actually cause cancer. Cancer Research UK comments: “Research has not proven whether dairy or calcium has a direct effect on prostate cancer risk.
“There are some studies that have found an increased risk in people who have large amounts of dairy. But there’s not enough good evidence for this.”
It adds: “There is no good, consistent evidence that milk and dairy products can cause breast cancer.”
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