Skip to content

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Does Dairy Do a Colon Good?

Eating dairy foods may lower the risk of colon cancer.
Font Size
A
A
A

Vitamin D May Help

The vitamin D found in milk may play an important role in preventing the disease, said Cedric Garland, PhD, professor of preventive medicine at the school of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Speaking at the American Dietetic Association's annual meeting, Garland explained that vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from dairy products.

Despite these findings, Gabriel Feldman, MD, national director of the American Cancer Society's colorectal cancer research division, remains skeptical. He says the study didn't have enough subjects and didn't last long enough to generate solid evidence. He also thinks the study should have used numbers of pre-cancerous polyps to measure the effectiveness of a high-dairy diet.

Other studies have shown evidence that a diet high in dairy products may actually increase colorectal cancer, Feldman says. "Non-dairy consuming regions of the world, like Asia and the Mediterranean, have the lowest incidence of colorectal cancer."

Both Holt and Garland respond to this criticism by pointing to a much larger and longer-running study, published in 1985 in the journal Lancet, that showed a higher calcium intake could prevent colorectal cancer.

Eat a High-Fiber Diet

Regardless of the ongoing debate, the American Cancer Society and other health officials say a diet high in fiber (whole grains, rice, breads, vegetables and fruits) and low in animal fats (especially red meats) can reduce the risk of the disease.

Feldman acknowledges that studies have shown that when calcium is taken through dietary supplements, it can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. "Considering the benefits that I've seen, I don?t think that it would hurt to increase calcium intake through low-fat dairy," Garland says.

Diet isn't the only way to prevent the cancer, Feldman stresses. He says people should get screened every year after age 50 for colon polyps, which can be removed before they develop into full-blown cancer. People need to overcome their fear of colorectal exams because they're the only way to be "100% sure" of avoiding the potentially fatal disease, he says.

"The reality is that it's nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be," he says. "The most important thing is that [exams] can help prevent cancer and save your life."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

measuring waist
4 tips for shedding yours.
apple cider vinegar
Does it have health benefits?
 
Chocolate truffle
For weight loss, some aren’t so bad after all.
woman holding red dress
24 simple, practical tips.
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens
 

Special Sections