Center News

The benefits of daily dairy

Diets high in omega-6 fatty acids may raise prostate-cancer risk, but more dairy can significantly cut smokers' risk

July 30, 2007
Dr. Marian Neuhouser

Dr. Marian Neuhouser Public Health Sciences Division

Increased intake of dairy foods may cut the risk of smokers developing prostate cancer by about 40 percent, suggests a new study from Public Health Division researchers.

The research, led by Dr. Marian Neuhouser and published in the July issue of the Journal of Nutrition, looked at the associations of dietary fat, meat and dairy foods on prostate-cancer risk among more than 12,000 current or former heavy smokers in the Carotene and Retinol Efficacy Trial.

After 11 years of follow-up, there were 890 cases of prostate cancer. Overall, total fat from all sources was not linked to the risk of prostate cancer, but when the researchers examined sub-groups, they found that men with a higher dairy intake had a 41 percent reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer compared to men with lower dairy intake.

The study also found that increased consumption of omega-6 fatty acids increased risk of prostate cancer more than two-fold, but only in men with a family history of prostate cancer. Safflower, soybean and corn oils, which are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, promote inflammation.

The benefits of dairy foods appeared to be limited to current, rather than former, smokers, with increased intake associated with a 58 percent reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

Matt Barnett and Drs. Alan Kristal, Irena King, Mark Thornquist and Gary Goodman contributed to the study, along with Roswell Park Cancer Institute's Dr. Christine Ambrosone. The National Institutes of Health funded the research.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a world leader in research to prevent, detect and treat cancer and other life-threatening diseases.