One of the most common breakfast staples in most homes has been linked to three types of cancers. A new study found that the consumption of dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese, can increase the risk of liver and breast cancer as well as lymphoma.
A team of researchers, some from the University of Oxford, analysed the eating habits of 500,000 people in China, of whom 70 percent never consume dairy while a fifth have these products at least once a week. They were being monitored over an 11-year period after which 30,000 participants went on to develop cancer.
Researchers found that for each 50g per day intake of dairy, the risk increased by 12 for liver cancer and 17 percent for breast cancer, according to The Sun.
The study, published in the BMC Medicine journal last week, established also that the participants who consumed dairy had higher odds of lymphoma, although to a relatively lower degree.
Dr Maria Kakkoura, Nutritional Epidemiologist at Oxford Population Health, and the first author of the study, said:
This was the first major study to investigate the link between dairy products and cancer risk in a Chinese population. Further studies are needed to validate these current findings, establish if these associations are causal, and investigate the potential underlying mechanisms involved.
However, there were no recorded links to other types of cancers investigated.
Should you cut our dairy?
You might want to hold on to your dairy products for a while longer as it is unclear if the research findings can be applicable to Western populations. For starters, the Chinese do not consume as much dairy product as the average Brit and do not metabolize these products properly due to the lack of a key enzyme that facilitates the breakdown of sugar lactose.
Registered dietician Dr Duane Mellor at Aston University said of the study:
Although the paper suggests a 12 per cent increased relative risk for female breast cancer, this does not equate to 12 more cases per 100 individuals. In my view this study alone does not provide strong evidence that reducing dairy intake would reduce cancer risk.