If there's one thing you'll always find inside a fridge in most houses, it's dairy milk. While alternative non-dairy options are now available in India, most households consume a significant amount of dairy on a day-to-day basis. But what if I told you that consuming dairy milk could increase your risk of breast cancer? Yes, you read that right. A new study conducted by Loma Linda University Health has found that intake of dairy milk is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer in women.
A research titled Dairy, soy and risk of breast cancer: Those confounded milks, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that even as little as a cup of dairy milk every day could increase the risk of breast cancer among women. But, before I get into the details of this study, let me give you a brief of how common, frequent and alarming breast cancer rate is globally and across India.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed form of cancer among women. It impacts 2.1 million women annually, also resulting in the maximum number of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2018 alone, approximately 6,27,000 women died because of breast cancer globally.
The statistics are no less alarming in India. According to Cancer India Org, breast cancer accounts for 14% of all cancers in women with over 87,000 deaths annually. Overall, 1 out of 28 women in India is likely to develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
Researchers studied the dairy intake of over 53,000 American women for a period of eight years. These women were initially free of cancer and during a follow-up at the end of the study period, there were over 1,000 new breast cancer cases.
One of the authors of the paper, Gary E. Fraser, said the observational study indicates that consuming 1/4 or even 1/3 of dairy milk cup/day "was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer of 30% of the women studied".
Fraser further said that as the quantity of milk was increased, the percentage of chances also kept shooting up. Fraser said, "by drinking up to one cup per day, the associated risk went up to 50%, and for those drinking two to three cups per day, the risk increased further to 70% to 80%." That bursts quite a few of our bubbles indeed!
One: dairy milk contains the sex hormone that increases the chances of breast cancer in women as it is hormone-responsive. This is because the cows are lactating, and more than 75% of the dairy herd is pregnant.
Two: dairy milk includes certain animal proteins that are associated with higher blood levels of a hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) that also results in promoting some form of cancer.
While more research certainly needs to be conducted into this field, the findings of this study are alarming enough for us to stay away from dairy altogether. We suggest looking into other alternatives to dairy milk, which include almond milk, coconut milk and oat milk among others.
Featured Image: Shutterstock