Two or More Daily Glasses of Milk May Raise Ovarian Cancer Risks
WebMD News Archive
The study involves 80,326 married nurses living in 11 states. When the
nurses entered the study in 1976, they ranged in age from 30 to 55. Beginning
in 1980, all participants were given detailed dietary questionnaires. Fairfield
and her co-authors reported on 16 years of dietary studies. The women were
asked about dairy product consumption and other sources of calcium.
"There were 301 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed during the study
period; 174 were serous tumors," she says.
"We found that women were getting 57% of their dietary lactose from
low-fat or skim milk, 15% from whole milk, and 8% from yogurt," she says.
Fairfield says cheese doesn't contain high amounts of lactose. And "whole
milk accounts for only 15% of lactose because so little whole milk is
Asked if countries with a high consumption of dairy products have higher
ovarian cancer rates, Fairfield says "they do, and the reverse is true as
well: Low consumption of dairy products correlates to low rates of ovarian
This report, discussed at a meeting of the Society of General Internal
Medicine here, follows another one last month by a different team of Harvard
researchers who have been studying physicians. Scientists from the Physician's
Health Study said that men who consumed more than 2.5 servings of dairy
products daily had a slight increase in risk of prostate cancer. That study was
presented by June M. Chan, ScD, a colleague of Fairfield.
Asked by WebMD about the common theme, Fairfield says: "It is true that
there seems to be something happening with dairy products, but that study
suggests a role for calcium. That is not our finding with ovarian
- New research shows that women who drink two or more glasses of milk per day
may have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Researchers suggest it's not the fat or the calcium, but the lactose, which
breaks down in the body into glucose and galactose, that may be responsible for
the increased risk.
- It is not clear how these study results will affect dietary
recommendations, as women are now advised to consume dairy products to prevent