Relationship between milk consumption and prostate cancer: a short review

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Epidemiological evidence based on both case–control and prospective cohort studies points to an overall positive relationship between consumption of milk/dairy products and the risk of developing prostate cancer. There are inconsistencies in the data, but taken together, the increased relative risk does not seem to be high. A number of mechanisms have been proposed to account for the relationship, with most attention being focused on the involvement of calcium/vitamin D, insulin-like growth factor-1 and oestrogens, although it is unlikely that a single factor in milk is implicated. In any event, any added risk of prostate cancer from increased milk consumption has to be set alongside other evidence, which shows that increased milk consumption can provide substantially reduced risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and colorectal cancer, particularly because cardiovascular disease accounts for vastly more deaths than prostate cancer (although the latter is of course restricted to men).

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