Dairy calcium linked to lower breast cancer risk

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Breast cancer, Milk

Increased intake of dairy products may reduce the risk of
developing breast cancer by at least 45 per cent, says a new study
from France.

The research, published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism​, reports that the benefits are increased further for pre-menopausal women and that much of the benefit may come from the calcium content of the food. "Our data support the hypothesis that dairy products, through calcium content or a correlated component, might have a negative association with the risk of breast cancer, particularly among pre-menopausal women,"​ wrote lead author Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot from INSERM U557 (University of Paris). Every year, over one million women are diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide, with the highest incidences in the US and the Netherlands. China has the lowest incidence and mortality rate of the disease. The French SU.VI.MAX study analysed dietary intakes of 3,627 women using five 24-hour records completed over the course of 18 months. The researchers documented 92 cases of incident breast cancer during the follow-up period. Kesse-Guyot and co-workers report that women with the highest average dairy intake had a 45 per cent lower risk of developing breast cancer than women with the lowest average intake. Amongst pre-menopausal women the benefits of dairy consumption were calculated to be even greater, with highest average dairy intake associated with a 65 per cent reduction in breast cancer risk. After the results were adjusted for calcium, none of the associations remained. Indeed, increasing calcium intake was associated with a 50 per cent reduction in breast cancer risk for the whole population, and a 74 per cent reduction for pre-menopausal women. Commenting on the study, Dr Judith Bryans, director of The Dairy Council (UK) said: "This study joins the growing volume of literature which is helping us to unravel the complex links between our diets and risk of disease. Whilst further research is always needed, this study highlights the importance of including foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt, into our diets in order to provide ourselves with the nutrients we need to maintain good health".​ Indeed, the study echoes similar results from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers who reported that pre-menopausal women who consume higher amounts of calcium and vitamin D may lower their risk of developing breast cancer by almost 40 per cent (Archives of Internal Medicine​, Vol. 167, pp. 1050-1059). Source: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism​ Volume 51, Pages 139-145, doi: 10.1159/000103274 "Dairy Products, Calcium and the Risk of Breast Cancer: Results of the French SU.VI.MAX Prospective Study" ​Authors: E. Kesse-Guyot, S. Bertrais, B. Duperray, N. Arnault, A. Bar-Hen, P. Galan, Serge Hercberg

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