Body Of Evidence: Dairy Food Increases Risk For Ovarian Cancer

We already know that dairy food is one of the most consistent dietary predictors for prostate cancer in the published literature. What about women? Here’s a new study that found the more milk African-American women consumed, the greater their risk of ovarian cancer:

1. Dairy, Calcium, Vitamin D And Ovarian Cancer Risk In African–American Women, British Journal of Cancer, Online 15 September 2016

An increased ovarian cancer risk was observed for whole milk consumption and lactose intake.

The Dairy Council is powerful in the US. The results of this study, even if they do make it to prime time, will be tempered by something like:

“Basically the picture is far from clear, and women would really be doing a great disservice to their diet if they took dairy out of it because of this,” American Dairy Council spokeswoman Deanna Rose, RD, tells WebMD.

That Dairy Council quote on WebMD was referring to this older study from 12 years ago where 60,000 women were followed for 13.5 years. It also found dairy food increased the risk for ovarian cancer:

2. Milk And Lactose Intakes And Ovarian Cancer Risk In The Swedish Mammography Cohort, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2004

Conclusions: Our data indicate that high intakes of lactose and dairy products, particularly milk, are associated with an increased risk of serous ovarian cancer.

These studies are not isolated. Here’s the Iowa Women’s Study that followed 29,000 women for a decade and found the same risks from consuming dairy. (They also found that eggs increased ovarian cancer risk.)

3. Prospective Study of Diet and Ovarian Cancer, American Journal of Epidemiology, 1999

Here’s a Harvard study of 80,000 followed for 16 years showing the same thing. Those who consumed the most dairy doubled their risk of developing ovarian cancer.

4. A Prospective Study Of Dietary Lactose And Ovarian Cancer, International Journal of Cancer, February 2004.

I’ve just listed 4 large studies, published in peer-reviewed journals over a period of 17 years (1999 to 2016), that indicate dairy foods increase the risk for ovarian cancer. That is clearly not a body of evidence that would support continued consumption of dairy food.

15 thoughts on “Body Of Evidence: Dairy Food Increases Risk For Ovarian Cancer

  1. Bix Post author

    Women are utterly married to their milk … and yogurt and cheese. They’ve swallowed the Dairy Council’s milk-builds-strong-bones bait hook, line, and sinker.

  2. Melinda

    I will note that I’ve not swallowed the Dairy Council’s program hook, line, and sinker. When I eat cheese I do so b/c I love it. I’ve looked for acceptable vegan substitutes, as I’d like to get away from it, but haven’t found anything good yet. If anyone has suggestions, I’d be glad to hear it!

    1. Bix Post author

      You’re knowledgeable about food, and food politics, and you let it change your behavior. Some people don’t know. Even if they do, there’s a giant leap from knowledge to behavior. Knowledge, by itself, isn’t a strong predictor of behavior.

      I’ll use the example of smoking … people began to understand the risks of smoking but it wasn’t until social pressure became so great that smoking rates declined. Their friends stopped smoking, restaurants and workplaces and retail shops wouldn’t allow it. Then it became a class thing. There will always be people ahead of the curve but I think it takes a lot of social pressure to change the public’s behavior.

      In Public Health, you learn (and it took me a while, and I’m still not good at it) to consider the public, as opposed to the individual. A great way to change the public’s behavior is to make the healthy option the default option. Again with smoking … the default became *not* to smoke. People had to be inconvenienced if they wanted to smoke. That’s when the tide turned.

      I look forward to this happening with dairy food. Until then, I’ll do my part to change society’s perceptions.

  3. Marj

    Thanks to your “old” recipe for gomasio, I’m still happily making it and love it! My daughter had a broccoli side dish at a restaurant some time ago, where sesame seeds and a small amount of orange zest were added as seasoning. I use the gomasio and it’s delicious. As to dairy, I’ve given up all except small amount of grated cheese on various dishes.

    1. Bix Post author

      I can’t believe you remember that recipe. What, 12 years! You made my day, Marj. I still make it the same way, except I don’t use salt and I don’t have that pan anymore. Just made some yesterday.

  4. Melinda

    I’m thinking of trying this recipe for vegan “Parmesan”–in fact, maybe I’ll make some today. It doesn’t really taste like parmesan, but it’s good in its own right. It’s a bit like gomasio–thanks for reposting that!! Now I just need to find an acceptable cheddar type substitute. A lot of these recipes use cashews (remember my cashew milk?–I still make that) and nutritional yeast.

    1. Bix Post author

      Nutritional yeast … I used to use that back in my 20s. I haven’t had it in years.

      I’m reading about it:

      In the United States it is sometimes referred to as “hippie dust.”

      Hippie dust it is.

      The primary ingredient in the growth medium is glucose, often from either sugarcane or beet molasses.

      Hm, I wonder if you can get a non-GMO version.

      1. Marj

        Interesting about nutritional yeast, I hadn’t thought about the GMO possibility. Am now using either Bragg or Bob’s Red Mill due to reading in ConsumerLab that KAL (which had been using for quite some time) was not one of the most desirable. I find it’s great for adding flavor/nutrients to certain foods.

        And thanks to Melinda for her mention of the Beard and Bonnet site, it’s a good one! Being necessarily on a gluten-free diet, I appreciate learning of new sites for ideas.

        1. Bix Post author

          I just bought some Red Star … because it came in a small container (I don’t know if I’ll like it). And because it said non-GMO. And because it doesn’t appear to have a problem with lead. Looking forward to it, maybe on rice.

  5. Melinda

    It’s unclear to me whether the term GMO (or non-GMO) would apply to yeasts on their own, which are naturally occurring members of the fungus kingdom. They’re neither animals nor plants. They reproduce naturally by mitosis, but they also can be grown (in greater quantity) on a medium, usually some sort of sugar-base. So I suppose that’s where the issue of GMO might crop up. I only know about this b/c some vegan member of the farm where I used to work was unsure whether she could eat yeast (on the assumption that it’s some simple sort of animal), so I looked at its classification then.

  6. Melinda

    Yeah, I figured you must be–esp. b/c beet sugar is one of the most-used mediums, and I think beets are often genetically modified. Thanks for the post!–I learned something by thinking through this!


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