U.S dietary guidelines recommending three servings of dairy a day can increase cancer risk, according to a health expert.
Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., is director of nutrition education for the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
According to Levin, research shows that ‘three servings of milk a day can increase breast cancer risk by up to 80 percent and risk of death from prostate cancer by 141 percent’. Using this data, she is calling on the upcoming 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to indicate that dairy is unnecessary.
Dietary Guidelines report
Her comments follow the recent release of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) highly-anticipated scientific report, which was compiled the Committee’s 20 health expert members, and reviews the latest dietary and nutrition research.
The report, which will be used by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, suggests the new guidelines should continue to recommend that cups of dairy products daily.
Dairy and cancer risk
Levin cites a major breast cancer study which was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Cancer Research Fund, and followed 52,795 women who were part of the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort.
The study found that ‘women who consumed 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cow’s milk per day had a 30 percent increased chance for breast cancer. One cup per day increased the risk by 50 percent, and two-three cups were associated with an 80 percent increased chance of breast cancer. Replacing dairy milk with soy milk was associated with a 32 percent reduced risk of breast cancer’.
She also cites a prostate cancer study that found ‘those who consumed three or more servings of dairy products a day had a 141 percent higher risk for death due to prostate cancer compared to those who consumed less than one serving’, with both high- and low-fat dairy products associated with increased mortality.
“Scientific evidence also shows that milk and other dairy products increase the risk of ovarian cancer, asthma, cognitive decline, and early death, and offer little if any protection for bone health,” said Levin.
“Dairy products are also the No. 1 source of saturated fat in the American diet, which increases the risk of heart disease.”
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