Milk causes prostate cancer?

How ridiculous is it to believe that something most Americans consume daily could possibly cause a serious cancer? However, there are some scientific websites out there that report, “Dairy causes prostate cancer.” To a naïve, susceptible audiences, these presumptions are considered facts.

Source: https://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/images/health/topics/ballpark-prostate.png

Source: Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

According to Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, “[S]everal lines of evidence indicate that consumption of dairy products is associated with increased risk of prostate cancer incidence and mortality. Avoidance of these products may offer a means of reducing risk of this common illness.” With multiple different types of studies that have taken place in order for these conclusions to be made, one’s disbelief may begin to waiver.

WebMD cited the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, “Given the high prevalence of prostate cancer in American men … these findings suggest caution before one embraces the new recommendations to increase dairy intake, especially among older men,” The article also points out the scientific studies that have been conducted to back up the argument. “The researchers reviewed 12 studies, conducted between 1966 and 2005, which examined dairy and calcium intake and prostate cancer incidence. They report that men who ate the most dairy products had an 11% increase in prostate cancer risk compared with men who ate the fewest. Men with the highest intake of calcium were 39% more likely to develop prostate cancer than men with the lowest.”

The average person may be convinced after two seemingly scientific sources have confirmed there may be a link between milk and prostate cancer.

In an interview conducted with Dr. Mercola he revealed that,

“Dairy products have long been linked to prostate cancer, and the most popular theory as to why this may be is because calcium, in high levels, may impair the function of the enzyme that converts vitamin D to its active form 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D. So, over time, if you consume too much calcium, you could actually be depleting your body of cancer-fighting vitamin D.

The evidence that pasteurized dairy products contribute to prostate cancer is fairly substantial. For instance, worldwide, men seem far more likely to die of prostate cancer in countries where dairy consumption is high than in countries where it is low. In a 10-year study of nearly 21,000 male doctors, those who consumed at least 2.5 servings of dairy food per day were 30 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than doctors who consumed less than half a serving.”

A more reliable of the online source is the Cancer Research UK. The site reported that, “Researchers and doctors all agree that diet and cancer are closely linked. And eating a well balanced diet can help to reduce the risk of cancer. What is more difficult to say is exactly which foods are most important in causing or reducing cancer risk. Studies investigating a link between cancer and dairy products have not given clear results. Some research shows an increase in the risk of developing cancer, and some shows a decrease.”

Additionally, Oncology Nutrition has done its part in easing the minds of dairy lovers everywhere. According to an interview with expert Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD,

“Dozens of research studies have looked at potential connections between calcium and prostate cancer risk. Unfortunately, this research presents a very mixed picture. Some studies suggest that too much calcium can increase prostate cancer risk. Yet other research does not show this connection.

The picture also is unclear because most of the calcium in the American diet comes from dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. It is possible that calcium itself is not a problem, but something about dairy foods increases prostate cancer risk. Further, taking into account the type of dairy food is important. Perhaps certain types of dairy foods increase prostate cancer risk while others do not.”

Furthermore Dixon states, “The one clinical trial on calcium supplements did not show that calcium increases prostate cancer risk. The dozens of observational studies on dairy foods, dietary calcium, and prostate cancer risk paint a mixed picture. However, it appears that eating moderate amounts of dairy (three or fewer servings per day) and/or dietary calcium are not associated with increased prostate cancer risk.”

The world of the web can be a confusing place especially when a topic as scary and common as cancer is in play. The most important thing when delving into any popular scientific “discovery” or “conclusion” is to do your research and use caution! Not all sources are accurate or even serve the purpose to educate. Most blogs and posts sensationalize their stories just so they can capture an audience. Unfortunately for my friend, she has been convinced of the dangers of milk. Although some studies may presume that cause and effect is the case with milk and prostate cancer, there are no clear results. Causation and correlation are important to decipher when looking at research findings.

Don’t believe everything you read online and certainly don’t be scared into banning milk from your home. In fact, feel secure in knowing that you can enjoy your cereal and cookie-dunking without any risk.

Sources

Boyles, S. (n.d.). Lots of Dairy Linked to Prostate Cancer. Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Does milk cause cancer? (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Milk Consumption and Prostate Cancer. (2010, September 24). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Nonfat Milk Linked to Prostate Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Prostate Cancer & Calcium Concerns. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

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