Dairy Products and Ovarian Cancer

The Physicians Committee

Dairy Products and Ovarian Cancer

February 22, 2006

A new report from the Harvard School of Public Health shows a higher risk of ovarian cancer among women with increased intakes of lactose, the primary sugar in dairy milk. The pooled analysis included 12 prospective cohort studies with a total of 553,217 women, of whom 2,132 developed ovarian cancer. The analysis found a 19 percent increase in risk for those consuming greater than 30 grams of lactose per day, the equivalent of three or more servings of dairy milk.

During the digestive process, lactose produces glucose and galactose. Galactose is thought to have toxic effects for the ovaries for some women, particularly those who do not readily metabolize and eliminate it.

Genkinger JM, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, et al. Dairy products and ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Cancer Epidemol Biomarkers Prev. 2006;15:364-72.

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