From Green Right Now Reports

Low fat Milk

Low fat milk.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer may increase their risk of dying of  the disease if they consume high-fat dairy products such as whole milk, condensed or evaporated milk, pudding, ice cream and full-fat cheeses and yogurts, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

It’s long been known that dairy products can have estrogenic effects in the human body, and these hormones are carried in the dairy fat. Skim milk would have fewer hormones that whole milk, for instance.

This study was a first in that it focused on a specific population, women who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, to see whether the consumption of high-fat dairy products would negatively affect their long-term survival.

The researchers at Kaiser Permanente reviewed the cases of 1,893 women who’d been treated for early stage breast cancer in 1997-2000.

Looking at their outcomes 12 years later, the researchers found that the women who had consumed more high-fat dairy (one serving or more per day) were at higher risk of dying of breast cancer and other causes.

Almond Milk

No-fat milk.

“Specifically, women consuming one or more servings per day of high-fat dairy had a 64 percent higher risk of dying from any cause and a 49 percent increased risk of dying from their breast cancer during the follow-up period,” said Candyce H. Kroenke, a staff scientist at Kaiser and co-author of the survey.

They found no such increased risk for the consumption of low-fat dairy products.

Of the women studied, 372 died during a median follow-up of 11.8 years with about half of the deaths (189) from breast cancer.

Women have been “clamoring” for advice on how to improve their odds of survival, said Susan E. Kutner, chair of Kaiser’s Regional Breast Care Task Force.

It also fits with a sensible program for increasing health with regard to other diseases, the researchers said.

“High-fat dairy is generally not recommended as part of a healthy diet,” said senior author Bette J. Caan, DrPH, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. “Switching to low-fat dairy is an easy thing to modify.”

Yogurt and Fruit

Yogurt and Fruit, make it low-fat. (Photo: NMSU)

The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in January,  was based on self-reporting by the women, who filled out a survey about their eating habits, and were followed for nearly 12 years. The survey was part of the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) study, a project of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

This study and other research by Kaiser Permanente suggests that women who’ve had breast cancer (and perhaps also women who want to avoid it) should eat:

  •   Only low-fat dairy products
  •  Substitute other milks, such as that made from soy, which has been shown to reduce breast cancer recurrence
  • Stay physically active and manage weight gain.