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Diet & Health : Cancer Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Nonfat milk may increase prostate cancer risk
By David Liu, Ph. D.
Feb 21, 2008 - 2:50:32 PM

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THURSDAY FEB 21, 2008 ( -- Consuming calcium and vitamin D in the diet does not seem to have much of an impact on the risk of prostate cancer, but eating low fat or nonfat milk may boost the risk of the malignancy, according to two studies in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Dietary calcium and dairy products have been believed to increase the risk of prostate cancer because they affect vitamin D metabolism.  Some studies support this notion while others disprove the link.

One study by Dr. Song-Yi Park at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and colleagues followed up 82,483 men aged 45 to75 between 1993 and 2002 for their dietary habits and other factors such as weight, smoking status and education levels.

During the 8-year follow up, 4,404 men or 5.3 percent of the study population developed prostate cancer.

The researchers found there was no evidence that calcium or vitamin D from any source, dietary or supplemental, increased the risk of prostate cancer.  This held true in all five racial and ethnic groups.

In an overall analysis of food groups, dairy products and milk were not linked with increased or decreased risk of prostate cancer.

However, further analysis showed that consumption of low-fat or nonfat milk was associated with increased risk of localized tumors or non-aggressive tumors while whole milk was linked with a decreased risk.

A similar analysis of data on calcium/vitamin D and prostate cancer from 293,888 men showed no link between total or supplemental dietary calcium and the number of non-advanced prostate cancer cases.

The 6-year study was conducted between 1995 and 2001 by Dr. Yikyung Park from the National Cancer Institute and colleagues and published in the Dec 1, 2007 issue of the same journal.

However, total calcium intake was correlated with advanced and fatal cancer although the correlation was not statistically significant.  Further, use of skim milk was linked with increased risk of advanced prostate cancer.

In contrast, calcium from non-dairy products was associated with a reduced risk of non-advanced prostate cancer.

These studies are not trials, meaning that eating dairy products or drinking milk may not definitely lead to development of prostate tumor or cancer although this possibility can not be excluded.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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