A popular soft drink that may increase the risk of developing two types of cancer – studies

Our diet plays a huge role in our health and well-being. It is widely recognized that certain foods may increase the risk of certain problems, such as saturated fat and the association with high cholesterol. However, there is one drink that has been shown to increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

Speaking to, Dr Shirin Kassam, Consultant Hematologist, lecturer and founder of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, warned of some of the risks of drinking milk.

She said: “While some animal products, such as dairy products, are considered healthy, despite the processing involved, these products do not provide the same level of protection against cancer.

“In fact, dairy consumption is consistently associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer and may increase the risk of breast cancer.”

Mammary cancer

A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2020 looked at the link between milk and breast cancer.

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As part of the study, the team looked at data from more than 52,700 North American women who did not initially have cancer.

They completed meal frequency questionnaires, and more than 1,000 people completed six food reviews in 24 hours, a quick questionnaire about the last 24 hours.

Participants were followed for eight years with a marked diagnosis of breast cancer. During this time, 1057 new cases of breast cancer were registered.

The researchers then found an association between certain foods consumed and disease rates.

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The study states: “No clear association was found between soy products and breast cancer, regardless of dairy products.

“However, higher consumption of dairy calories and dairy milk was associated with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.22, respectively, when comparing the 90th and 10th percentiles of consumption.

“Full-fat and skimmed milk gave the same results. No important associations with cheese and yogurt were noted.”

He concluded: “Higher dairy milk intake was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer when adjusted for soy intake. Current recommendations for dairy milk consumption can be taken with some caution.”

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Prostate cancer

A separate study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2022 found a link between prostate cancer and dairy consumption.

As in the other study, over 28,000 male participants completed meal frequency questionnaires and 24-hour dietary memories to establish what they consumed.

Over the next eight years, 1,254 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed, including 190 advanced cases.

The study states: “Men with the 90th percentile of dairy consumption (430 grams per day) compared with the 10th percentile (20.2 grams per day) had a higher risk of prostate cancer.

“Similar results comparing the same grams per day were demonstrated for advanced cases of prostate cancer, for non-advanced cases, in black participants, and excluding vegan participants.”

It added: “Men with a higher intake of dairy, but not non-dairy calcium, had a higher risk of prostate cancer compared with men with a lower intake. The associations were non-linear, suggesting the greatest increase in risk at relatively low doses.”

However, there is some debate about whether milk can actually cause cancer. Cancer Research UK commented: “Studies have not proven that dairy products or calcium have a direct effect on prostate cancer risk.

“There are some studies that have found an increased risk in people who consume large amounts of dairy products. But there is not enough hard evidence for this.”

It adds: “There is no reliable, consistent evidence that milk and dairy products can cause breast cancer.”

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