Milk drinking 'linked' to ovarian cancer

By Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor

Drinking lots of milk may increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer, a study in Sweden has found.

Women who consumed more than four servings of dairy products a day had twice the risk of the most serious form of the disease, the study found.

The study followed more than 60,000 women in Sweden, aged between 38 and 76. Their diet was assessed between 1987 and 1990 using a food-frequency questionnaire, and they were followed up for around 13 years.

During this time a total of 266 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, of whom 125 had the most serious form. The researchers, led by Dr Susanna Larsson from the Karolinska Institute, found that those who consumed most dairy products had twice as great a risk.

They concluded in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Our data indicate that high intakes of lactose and dairy products, particularly milk, are associated with an increased risk of serious ovarian cancer but not of other sub-types of ovarian cancer."

The weakness of the study is the use of food frequency questionnaires, who have been shown to be an unreliable way of assessing actual diet. In such questionnaires, people say how often they consume certain categories of food. Diet diaries, in which every meal is recorded over a week, are much more reliable.

Previous studies have linked high dairy consumption to an increased risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. But other experts have claimed that the calcium in dairy products is important in maintaining healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis in later life. source:

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