Got non-dairy milk? Part 2

February 04, 2021 by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Health Concerns: Cancer, Prostate Cancer

Read part 1: Got Non-Dairy Milk?

Legions of scientific studies have shown that what you put in your mouth is directly related to your cancer risk. In an article that examined 47 studies on diet and prostate cancer published since 2006, most studies on a vegetarian or vegan diet indicated a decrease in risk. When analyzing which individual animal foods might promote prostate cancer, dairy products stood out. Several studies indicated an increase in risk of prostate cancer associated with greater milk or total dairy intake.1

Source:
Effect of Plant- and Animal-Based Foods on Prostate Cancer Risk

Strong link between dairy and prostate cancer

The “Got Milk?” ads featuring a milk “moustache” don’t seem quite as amusing when we consider the mounting evidence of a link between dairy and prostate cancer. This newer review of many studies joins several previous reviews and meta-analyses of study data that have also indicated increases in prostate cancer risk associated with dairy products.2-5

For example, one meta-analysis of 32 studies on prostate cancer risk relative to dairy products and calcium intake found a 7 percent increase in risk associated with each 400 g/day increase in total dairy products; a 6 percent increase for every 200 g (less than one cup) per day of low-fat milk; and a 9 percent increase for every 50 g (about ½ cup) cheese. Dairy calcium was associated with increased risk, but non-dairy calcium was not.2  

Action item: Recipes for cheesy flavor without the dairy (free for members):

Nutritarian Parmesan
Herbed "Cheese" and Greens Wraps

Sources:
Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies
Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer in Western countries: evidence from cohort studies 
Dairy products intake and cancer mortality risk: a meta-analysis of 11 population-based cohort studies
 

Why dairy products?

There are a few possibilities: first, dairy protein elevates insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) more powerfully than other animal protein sources. IGF-1 is a stimulus that promotes proliferation of tumor cells, and higher IGF-1 levels have been linked to a greater risk of prostate cancer.6,7

Action item:
Recent research has also linked dairy consumption to breast cancer. Learn more in Got Non-Dairy Milk? (Part 1).

Sources:
Circulating insulin-like growth factor peptides and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis
A Meta-analysis of Individual Participant Data Reveals an Association between Circulating Levels of IGF-I and Prostate Cancer Risk 

Related: Animal Protein is Linked to Increased Risk of Cancer
 

Dairy protein, IGF-1, and cancer

Elevated IGF-1 is associated with multiple different cancers,8-10 but prostate cancer in particular has been frequently linked to dairy consumption. Elevation of IGF-1 by dairy protein is most likely involved,4 but there may be other factors that connect dairy products to prostate cancer risk.

Sources:
Does milk intake promote prostate cancer initiation or progression via effects on insulin-like growth factors (IGFs)? A systematic review and meta-analysis 
Serum levels of IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and colorectal cancer risk: results from the EPIC cohort, plus a meta-analysis of prospective studies
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP3), and breast cancer risk: pooled individual data analysis of 17 prospective studies

Action item:
IGF-1, Dietary Protein, and Cancer: position paper (free for members)

Related: Eat Plant Protein to Live Longer

 

Too much calcium?

One possibility: the very high calcium content of cow’s milk may interfere with the conversion of vitamin D to its active form, thereby impairing vitamin D’s protective effects against prostate cancer.4 

Related: High-dose calcium supplements may damage the cardiovascular system

In the World Cancer Research Fund’s 2007 report on diet and cancer, evidence was cited that greater dairy and calcium intake were linked to greater prostate cancer risk. On the other hand, the report also found that higher dairy intake and calcium supplement intake was linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancers.11 Then again, high circulating IGF-1 levels are linked to a small increase in colorectal cancer risk.8  The evidence is somewhat contradictory. 

Calcium is an essential nutrient, and like most nutrients, not enough and too much calcium can both be harmful. The calcium in a small amount of dairy might be protective against colorectal cancers in a diet otherwise low in calcium, but high dairy intake might provide excessive calcium, hindering the actions of vitamin D, and increasing prostate cancer risk.

Sources:
Does milk intake promote prostate cancer initiation or progression via effects on insulin-like growth factors (IGFs)? A systematic review and meta-analysis 
Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective. The Third Expert Report
Serum levels of IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and colorectal cancer risk: results from the EPIC cohort, plus a meta-analysis of prospective studies

 

Get calcium from plant sources

Future research will tell us more about the relationship between dairy, calcium, and cancer risk, but from the evidence we do have, it makes sense to minimize dairy products and get adequate calcium from plant sources (greens, beans, nuts, and seeds). I recommend avoiding high-dose calcium supplements. However, a small supplemental dose of calcium (taken with meals) may be appropriate for some people, postmenopausal women in particular.

Supplemental calcium:
Osteo Biotect: 7.5 mcg (300 IU) vegan vitamin D3 and 200 mg food-derived calcium per capsule, plus magnesium and vitamin K2 to support bone health

Action items:
Insulin, IGF-1 and Sex Hormones: Video (free for members)
Got Calcium? Video (free for members)
Vitamin Advisor

 
References
  1. Shin J, Millstine D, Ruddy B, et al. Effect of Plant- and Animal-Based Foods on Prostate Cancer Risk. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2019.

  2. Aune D, Navarro Rosenblatt DA, Chan DS, et al. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2015, 101:87-117.

  3. Qin LQ, Xu JY, Wang PY, et al. Milk consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer in Western countries: evidence from cohort studies. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2007, 16:467-476.

  4. Harrison S, Lennon R, Holly J, et al. Does milk intake promote prostate cancer initiation or progression via effects on insulin-like growth factors (IGFs)? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Cancer Causes Control 2017, 28:497-528.

  5. Lu W, Chen H, Niu Y, et al. Dairy products intake and cancer mortality risk: a meta-analysis of 11 population-based cohort studies. Nutr J 2016, 15:91.

  6. Rowlands MA, Gunnell D, Harris R, et al. Circulating insulin-like growth factor peptides and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cancer 2009, 124:2416-2429.

  7. Travis RC, Appleby PN, Martin RM, et al. A Meta-analysis of Individual Participant Data Reveals an Association between Circulating Levels of IGF-I and Prostate Cancer Risk. Cancer Res 2016, 76:2288-2300.

  8. Rinaldi S, Cleveland R, Norat T, et al. Serum levels of IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and colorectal cancer risk: results from the EPIC cohort, plus a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Int J Cancer 2010, 126:1702-1715.

  9. Endogenous H, Breast Cancer Collaborative G, Key TJ, et al. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP3), and breast cancer risk: pooled individual data analysis of 17 prospective studies. Lancet Oncol 2010, 11:530-542.

  10. Dziadziuszko R, Camidge DR, Hirsch FR. The insulin-like growth factor pathway in lung cancer. J Thorac Oncol 2008, 3:815-818.

  11. Food, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Washington, DC: World Cancer Research Fund/American Insitute for Cancer Research; 2007.

Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
 
For over 25 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

 

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HealthyMeredith

02/19/2021 11:24 PM

Nice article. I liked the action items. Parm is great. Added the wraps to my recipe box.

Will watch the 2 videos, reread everything else. Thanks