There is evidence to support the putative link between consumption of milk products and ovarian cancer risk, finds a new meta-analysis of epidemiological studies, but the case is far from cut and dried.
A possible correlation was first reported in 1989, but research conducted since then has yielded contradictory results. This led researchers at the Karolinksa Institute in Sweden to analyze the results of three prospective cohort studies and 18 case-control studies, in an effort to gain better understanding of the relationship.
Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common form of cancer in women, affecting two percent of women worldwide at some point in their lifetime.
The investigations, published in the International Journal of Cancer, involved three prospective cohort studies and 18-case control studies, all of which offered data on the association between intakes of milk, yogurt, cheese or lactose and incidence or mortality from epithelial ovarian cancer.
The prospective cohort studies suggested that high intakes of milk may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, and a 10g per day increase in lactose intake (equivalent to one glass of milk) led to a 13 percent increase in risk.
In the case control studies, on the other hand, no evidence was found for the role of lactose in increasing the risk. While there was a positively associated between whole milk and ovarian cancer risk, the association with low fat milk was negative.