Milk may reduce the risk for colon cancer.




European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Together, colon and rectal cancers (colorectal cancers) are among the most prevalent cancers in the United States.1 Although the exact cause is unknown, there are risk factors that known to increase the chance of developing colorectal cancer. People over the age of 50 have a higher risk of colorectal cancers, but it has also been diagnosed in individuals of all ages. These cancers are more common in people whose diets are high in fat and low in fiber. Family history can also plays an important role. Symptoms of rectal and colon cancer include vomiting, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel movements, though these symptoms may indicate the presence of illness other than colorectal cancer. Treatments for colorectal cancer are chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and immuno-therapy. These treatments have many side effects, so the best therapy for colorectal cancer is prevention.

A study published in the November 2001 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on a group of researchers from Finland who decided to examine the correlation between colorectal cancers and the consumption of milk, calcium, vitamin D, and lactose. A group of 9,959 men and women, ages 15 and older, was chosen for this 24-year study. At the start of this study, none of the individuals had a history of cancer. After the 24-year period, 38 people had cancer of the colon and 34 had rectal cancer. The consumption of milk and milk products was inversely related to colon cancer, but no significant relationship was associated with the rectal cancer. Lactose shared similar inverse results to colon cancer. Vitamin D and calcium did not show a substantial link to the cancers. The researchers concluded that their findings indicated, “that individuals showing high consumption of milk have a potentially reduced risk of colon cancer; however, the association does not appear to be due to intake of calcium, vitamin D, or to specific effects of fermented milk."2


1. National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health. Cancer of the colon and the rectum. Aug 1999.
2. Järvinen R. Prospective study on milk products, calcium and cancers of the colon and rectum. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nov 2001;55;11:1000-1007.