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  2. Nov 12, 2020

Tell the Federal Government To Ditch the Dairy To Fight Prostate Cancer

by Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD


It’s Movember, when men grow mustaches to raise awareness around men’s health issues including prostate cancer. But many men don’t know that dairy milk mustaches raise prostate cancer risk.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three servings of dairy a day. But research shows that the hormones, saturated fat, and dairy calcium in dairy products increase prostate cancer risk, recurrence, and mortality. 

High intakes of dairy products including whole and low-fat milk and cheese increase the risk for prostate cancer, according to a 2015 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Previous research found that men drinking more than one glass of whole milk per day had double the risk for fatal prostate cancer, compared with men drinking less.

Whole milk consumption also increases risk for prostate cancer recurrence in overweight and obese men, according to a 2018 study. Those who consumed more than four servings of whole milk per week increased their risk for recurrence by 73%, compared to those who consumed fewer or no servings of milk.

Dairy products also increase the risk of death from prostate cancer, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cancer. Men who consumed three or more servings of dairy products a day had a 141% higher risk for death due to prostate cancer compared to those who consumed less than one serving. Both high- and low-fat dairy products were associated with increased mortality.

Black men are 1.7 times more likely to have new cases of prostate cancer and twice as likely to die from prostate cancer, compared to white men. In a letter in response to the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the American Medical Association wrote, “Dairy and meat products are promoted in federal nutrition policies even though they are not nutritionally required. The AMA notes that Black Americans are at particularly high risk for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and cardiovascular mortality, and prostate and colorectal cancers are strongly linked to dairy, processed meat, and red meat consumption.”

Moving meat and other animal products off your plate can also help fight prostate cancer. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that men who followed a vegan diet had a 35% lower prostate cancer risk than those following a nonvegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian diet.

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