Do full-fat dairy products increase risk of breast cancer recurrence?

Can the usage of full-fat dairy products increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence?

Consuming even only one portion of a full-fat dairy product a day may increase lethality rates of breast cancer patients. Researchers reckon that oestrogen, a female sex hormone which is contained in milk and other dairy products, can encourage tumour growth. This has been the first study that shows the correlation between dairy products and breast cancer.

Those with breast cancer who often eat dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt or ice-cream can halve their chances of survival. US scientists suspect its cause is that milk and other dairy products contain oestrogen (which stimulates the tumour growth).

Although there is currently some evidence that diet plays a role in improving the chances of cancer patients to survive and preventing the recurrence, this has been the first study which presents the strong connection between dairy products and breast cancer.

About one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives and there are approximately 50,000 new cases per year. Although the chances of survival are far better than other kinds of disease, this illness still causes 11,800 casualties per annum.

Scientists from Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in California studied the records of 1,500 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer from 1997 to 2000. Those who joined this study completed the questionnaires on how often they used dairy products, the size of portions and, specifically; what they ate.

According to the results, the most popular dairy products that were consumed were ice-cream, yoghurt, cheese, full-fat latte and hot chocolate. (Latte is a mixed drink of coffee, hot milk and milk foam).

The scientists discovered that those who ate just a part of one of the above products per day were nearly 50 per cent more likely to die from the breast cancer in 12 years. They pointed out that most milk consumed in England and the United States comes from cows which are pregnant and rich in oestrogen.

It is known that this hormone activates tumour growth and there are high levels of this hormone in full-fat dairy products.

In fact, women who ate one portion of full-fat dairy per day might be 64 per cent to die from any cause, not just breast cancer.

According to Dr Bette Caan, who was the research group’s leader, “High-fat milk is not recommended as part of a healthy diet. Changing to low-fat milk is an easy thing to do”.

Many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer asked their doctor whether they should change their diet habits. However, there is too little research on this subject for them to advise specifically so far.

The scientists also said that women currently required to know this type of information.

They are asking us, “Tell me what should I eat? With this information, it can be more specific for us to advise low-fat dairy products”.

The researchers said that this study specifically focuses on women diagnosed with breast cancer and how low or high-fat dairy products might affect them.

Any women who have had breast cancer and are being worried about their diet should discuss with their doctors on this issue.

For some health reasons, it is advised that all women should follow a healthy and balanced diet. It is useful for you to maintain a healthy weight which, together with regular physical activities, might reduce the risk of breast cancer and improve overall well-being.

There has been no evidence of a connection between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer, research published in the British Medical Journal said.

The research at the University of Cape Town, Department of Medicine has examined HRT use and the incidence of breast cancer in 11 countries. The result showed that the effects of the drug in mitigating menopause symptoms are more serious than any possible risks.

By Pham Thi Bich Thu (Daily Mail)


BCNV strives to provide the most reliable information for Vietnamese women who are unluckily diagnosed with breast cancer. However, BCNV cannot guarantee or be responsible or be liable for this information accuracy or completeness; nor be liable for any loss or damage (if any) from the use of information contained in the article. BCNV welcomes and respects constructive feedback from experts, doctors, patients and interested people, which makes the article have more specific value to serve better to women with breast cancer and to improve community’s awareness.

BCNV recommends that patients should talk to their specialist about their decisions during treatment.