Researchers from Sweden and Finland investigated the relationship between the consumption of milk and milk products, calcium, lactose, and vitamin D, and the occurrence of colorectal cancers.
A total of 9959 men and women, aged 15 years or older, without history of cancer at baseline, were included in the prospective study.
During a 24-year follow-up, 72 new cancers of the large bowel (38 in the colon and 34 in the rectum) were detected.
Consumption of milk and total milk products was inversely related to colon cancer incidence, whereas no similar association was seen for rectal cancer.
The relative risk between the highest and lowest quartiles of intake, adjusted for potential confounding factors, was 0.46 for milk and 0.37 for total milk products.
| Intake of calcium and vitamin D not related to colon cancer risk.
| European Journal of Clinical Nutrition |
Lactose intake showed a similar inverse relationship with colon cancer: the relative risk was 0.31.
Intake of vitamin D or total dietary calcium was not significantly related to colorectal cancer risk.
However, calcium provided by fermented milk products was associated with increased colorectal cancer incidence; in the highest quartile the multivariate adjusted relative risk for colorectal cancer was 2.07.
Author Ritva Jarvinen, of the University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland, said on behalf of the group, "Our results indicate 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," it was concluded.