Whole Milk Consumption Increases Risk for Prostate Cancer Progression

A study of 1,334 men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer showed a significantly increased risk of recurrence in those who consumed more than four servings of whole milk per week.

Men who consume whole milk following their prostate cancer diagnosis may increase their risk for disease recurrence, especially overweight or obese men, according to results published in The Prostate.

Previous studies have demonstrated an association between dairy consumption and an increased risk for prostate cancer among healthy men. However, data are limited on its effect after prostate cancer diagnosis, in particular, on disease recurrence and progression.

“Given a large dairy intake in the American diet and prostate cancer’s prevalence, it is important to investigate the relationship between consumption of dairy products and prostate cancer,” June M. Chan, ScD, Associate Chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Urology at the University of California San Francisco, and David Taft, a fourth-year medical student at Duke University, said in an interview with CURE.

The researchers conducted a prospective study of 1,334 men with non-metastatic prostate cancer who answered a food frequency questionnaire, in which all of the men had been diagnosed with cancer for at least two years.

During a median follow-up period of eight years, prostate cancer returned in 137 men. Men who consumed more than four servings of whole milk per week had a 73 percent increased risk of recurrence compared with men who consumed less than three servings a month. Similarly, men who were overweight or obese, who also consumed more than four servings per week tripled their risk for prostate cancer recurrence.

There was no increased risk of recurrence in men of normal weight who consumed low-fat milk and other dairy foods besides whole milk.

Therefore, the researchers recommended that if men with prostate cancer choose to drink milk, they should select non-fat or low-fat options. “Men with prostate cancer who regularly drink whole milk should discuss with their physician or dietician the risks and benefits associated with continuing to do so and potentially seek skim/low-fat dairy alternatives or milk substitutes,” Chan and Taft said.

Moving forward, Chan and Taft also noted further research is warranted. “Further research is warranted to corroborate if post-diagnostic intake of whole milk increases risk of prostate cancer recurrence,” they added.

“In particular, additional prospective studies with participants reflecting other racial/ethnic groups would be helpful, as current studies have been predominately Caucasian, limiting generalizability. Also, further studies are warranted to confirm and elucidate the possible biological interaction between whole milk, body size and prostate cancer recurrence/progression.”