AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Ladies…Put Down the Cheese and Pick up the Yogurt!

Diet has been known to play a key role in breast cancer risk. A study done by Karin B. Michels, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, at Medical News Today links a poor pro-inflammatory diet during adolescence, to a greater risk of developing breast cancer. A pro-inflammatory diet consists of foods such as red meats, butter, cheese, etc.  Because breast estrogenic hormones are found in these kinds of foods, researchers hypothesize that these compounds fuel breast cancer cell growth.

Photo taken by “kaboompics”: Karolina Grabowska

A case-control study, comparing breast cancer patients to women unaffected by the disease, by Roswell Park Cancer Institute also shows that there may be an association between types of dairy foods, specifically yogurt and cheese, consumed and breast cancer development.  Susan McCann, Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park, says “dairy foods are complex mixtures of nutrients and non-nutrient substances that could be negatively and positively associated with breast cancer risk”. 

In the case-control study, scholars examined the association between the types of dairy food consumed among 1,941 women diagnosed with breast cancer between the years 2003-2014. Taking into account factors such as demographics, menopausal status, energy intake, and family history researchers found that women who consumed high amounts of yogurt were found to have a 39% lower risk of cancer development while women who consumed high amounts of cheese, particularly cheddar and cream cheese, had the opposite effect with a 53% increased risk of breast cancer. 

Connecting this case-control study to the study done with Medical News Today the results support the idea that a pro-inflammatory diet may cause a greater risk of developing breast cancer. Cheese is known to be part of the pro-inflammatory diet while yogurt is part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Although more information is needed to definitely confirm these variables as a cause and effect, the correlation found provides us with more information about the possible causes of cancer. “This study of the differences among women and their consumption of dairy products offers significant new understanding into the potential risk factors associated with breast cancer. While diet is thought to be responsible for 30 percent of all cancers, we hope that further research will help us to more fully understand which food products are most valuable in terms of reducing risk for this disease.” (Senior author Christine Ambrosone: chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control). 

As someone who has seen the impacts of breast cancer first hand, knowing all different correlational factors that may lead to the development of breast cancer is extremely important.


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1 Comment

  1. evodrewtion

    Very interesting! Although I am a man, after reading this article I ran to my fridge and got a yogurt, just to be safe. As a dairy enthusiast who eats more pizza, yogurt, and cheese than you could believe, I found this blogpost very nerve-wracking. Quite selfishly, I immediately started to research if dairy may have an effect on men’s health. I am sad to report, it may.
    This fascinating source covers a variety of cancers and explains the potential risks dairy may have. It turns out dairy may increase the risk of prostate cancer. However, it may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Like your blog post, this article breaks down what in dairy products may put a person at risk such as estrogen hormones. Very frightening, yet interesting. At first I was devastated at my recent diagnosis of lactose intolerance, but now I believe it may be a blessing in disguise.

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