Milk consumption in adolescence may increase prostate cancer risk

(Medical Xpress) -- While people have been told for years about the importance of milk in a diet for children, a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology says that milk consumption in large quantities in adolescence can increase the risk of advanced prostate cancer.

The study was led by Johanna E. Torfadottir from the University of Iceland. The research team followed 8,894 men that were born between 1907 and 1935. These men came from different areas of Iceland where regular varied based on availability in the area. They followed these men for 24 years.

Throughout those 24 years, 1, 123 men developed with 371 of those being advanced prostate cancer.

Their study results showed that those men that lived in the capital, where milk was scarce at the time, were 29 percent less likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. For those men that were born before 1920 and lived in rural areas and consumed regular amounts of milk, the risk was as much as 64 percent higher than those in the capital.

While this study was observational and does not show a direct cause between milk and prostate cancer, other studies have shown there may be a link. Researchers D. Margel and N.E. Fleshner from the University of Toronto published a study in BMJ Open linking the estrogen found in cow milk to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Another study published in the November 2011 issue of Nutrition and Cancer shows that promoted the growth of LNCaP by 30 percent.

The is far richer in milk and dairy products than other developing countries. This may explain why the risk of prostate cancer is also higher in the West than other countries.

Researchers do not believe that this is enough to recommend that teenage boys reduce their milk consumption. There are many health benefits that milk does provide during adolescence and these benefits need to be weighed against the risks.

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More information: Milk Intake in Early Life and Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer, Am. J. Epidemiol. (2011) doi:10.1093/aje/kwr289

The authors investigated whether early-life residency in certain areas of Iceland marked by distinct differences in milk intake was associated with risk of prostate cancer in a population-based cohort of 8,894 men born between 1907 and 1935. Through linkage to cancer and mortality registers, the men were followed for prostate cancer diagnosis and mortality from study entry (in waves from 1967 to 1987) through 2009. In 2002–2006, a subgroup of 2,268 participants reported their milk intake in early, mid-, and current life. During a mean follow-up period of 24.3 years, 1,123 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, including 371 with advanced disease (stage 3 or higher or prostate cancer death). Compared with early-life residency in the capital area, rural residency in the first 20 years of life was marginally associated with increased risk of advanced prostate cancer (hazard ratio = 1.29, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.97, 1.73), particularly among men born before 1920 (hazard ratio = 1.64, 95% CI: 1.06, 2.56). Daily milk consumption in adolescence (vs. less than daily), but not in midlife or currently, was associated with a 3.2-fold risk of advanced prostate cancer (95% CI: 1.25, 8.28). These data suggest that frequent milk intake in adolescence increases risk of advanced prostate cancer.

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Jan 02, 2012
not a problem for girls then - ?

Jan 02, 2012
Or, is there another cause relating to something in the milk of the period in question? Might be worth looking into for further study.

Jan 02, 2012
Cow's milk is not part of our natural diet. Human milk is. Once again, a greedy special interest (the dairy lobby) has distorted the natural human diet for their own profit. And the "authorities" scratch their heads like chimpanzees when something goes wrong with our health!

Jan 02, 2012
It wouldn't surprise me if raw, unpasteurized milk culled from healthy, grass-fed cows would actually prevent a variety of cancers. There is a movement of raw milk activists trying to make it legal to distribute raw milk. Any food that is superheated loses its nutritive value, and might even make it mutagenic, like barbequed meat. Refrigeration and safe, farming practices have come a long way since Pasteur's day.

Jan 02, 2012
I'm not pro or anti milk. I tend to lean slightly towards it being detrimental to health but that's just based on my personal reactions to it.

That said, the only people I've ever met that really care at all are dairy farmers and their families. Put 2% milk in front of them and they'll act like it's poison. Weirdos.

I used to work in a restaurant where we would get frequent, different groups of dairy farmers in for breakfast. Everytime even if they had been in before and knew better, they would complain endlessly that we only had 2% milk.

The kids would even spill their glasses in protest; however, if I had to guess I'd say the adults did it and blamed it on the kids to save face.

Jan 02, 2012
It wouldn't surprise me if raw, unpasteurized milk culled from healthy, grass-fed cows would actually prevent a variety of cancers...

Agreed, the study doesn't mention whether the milk in question is organic raw milk from free roaming cows or pasteurized from CAFO cows.

Real raw milk comes from happy cows allowed to roam freely on pasture and eat grass, which optimizes their health and immune systems and produces milk that is very safe to drink in its raw form


Jan 03, 2012
I smell confounding factors, such as a population of lactose-tolerant humans affluent enough to afford a rich diet well into the teens may be liklier to survive LONG ENOUGH to develop prostate cancer, which rarely is an issue for populations with a mean life expectancy of under 60 years.

Jan 05, 2012
Body fat levels in men also contribute to estrogen levels. Unless you segregate the experimental results by weight - it's pretty much meaningless.

Jan 05, 2012
Milk inhibits absorption of some key nutrients. Perhaps it blocks zinc, which is vital to preventing prostate cancer?

Jan 08, 2012
That said, the only people I've ever met that really care at all are dairy farmers and their families. Put 2% milk in front of them and they'll act like it's poison. Weirdos.

Anything below 4% is just colored water. :)

/not a dairy farmer

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