Does Dairy Cause Breast Cancer?
Consuming dairy is probably linked to breast cancer, so say many renowned researchers and studies, including a 2009 paper available in the National Institutes of Health library.
Free From Harm compiled a collection of information from experts about the connection between dairy and breast cancer. Some highlights:
- “Casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process,” says Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the well-regarded, seminal China Study, summing up his relevant findings.
- “[S]everal epidemiological studies have indicated a relationship between dairy consumption and breast cancer risk in pre-menopausal women (Outwater, 1997).” -Breast Cancer Fund
- “It appears that when individuals do not have the correct enzymes to metabolize many of the hormones naturally found in any type of cow’s milk, a glass of milk can flood the body with excess estrogen. This raises the risk of developing or accelerating the growth of existing breast cancer.” -Susan Wadia-Ells, Founding Director of Knowbreastcancer.net
- Professor Jane Plant advocates changing from dairy to soy products to prevent breast cancer, noting that “even in Hiroshima, the chances of contracting breast cancer are half that of western nations. Only when Chinese and Japanese women move to Europe or the United States does their chance of contracting breast cancer dramatically increase,” as Free From Harm summarized.
- “While scientists are hard at work searching for specific breast cancer-fighting compounds, the safest approach is to apply what we already know: Diets that are highest in a variety of plant foods and stay away from heavy oils, meat, and dairy products, help prevent a great many diseases.” -Dr. Neal M. Bernard
- “Some dairy products, such as whole milk and many types of cheese, have a relatively high saturated fat content, which may increase risk. Moreover, milk products may contain contaminants such as pesticides, which have carcinogenic potential, and growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor I, which have been shown to promote breast cancer cell growth.” -The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Some nutritionists confirm the doctors’ findings. One of them, Phil Richards, writes that “the connection between casein and cancer was so profound [in experiments on rats] that the scientists could literally turn cancer growth on and off in the laboratory animals, like a light switch, simply by altering the level of casein protein in their diets.” Specifically, “[c]onsuming dairy products is linked to an increased risk for breast cancer as dairy products are high in fat, animal protein, and hormones, each of which increases cancer risk. Since the 1980′s, study after study has linked dairy consumption to a high incidence of breast and other cancers.”
Part of the problem with dairy is the things that come out of cows because of the way factory farmers treat them, as The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition quote above suggests. Dairy producers inject cows with a growth hormone to increase their milk production by a factor of ten. That milk then contains pus, bacteria, and blood because of the infections cows are prone to from their living conditions and from producing far more milk than they are meant to. Obviously these are not healthy things for us to drink.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure sounds a more conservative note than the researchers cited above: “data from the Nurses’ Health Study II found women who ate a lot of high-fat dairy products (like whole milk or butter) were at higher risk of premenopausal breast cancer,” it admits, but nevertheless asserts that “[m]ost studies have found no link between consuming dairy products and breast cancer in premenopausal women.” The site also claims that studies “have found no link between dairy product intake…and postmenopausal breast cancer risk.”
Another article went further, claiming that “dairy products may” make postmenopausal women “less likely to develop breast cancer.”
At most, as Cancer Research UK states, “[s]tudies investigating a link between cancer and dairy products have not given clear results…[W]e need further research to find out more about the links between dairy products and cancer risk.” Perhaps the safest course is to follow Jane Plant’s advice to replace dairy products with soy, which, as Care2 has reported, has a protective effect against breast cancer.
Photo credit: iStockphoto