Study Finds Dairy Consumption Can Increase Your Risk Of Prostate Cancer

A new 2022 study finds that those with a higher intake of dairy, but not non-dairy calcium, have bigger odds of developing prostate cancer. (1)

Prostate carcinoma is the 3rd most frequent cancer in men worldwide and the most prevalent one in the United States. 

In recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis on how dietary choices impact prostate cancer risk. 

Based on reports, dairy and prostate cancer have an intricate connection.

In 2020, the average American consumed 655 pounds of dairy in ice cream, yogurt, cheese, milk, butter, and other products. This showcases a skyrocketing interest and love for all things dairy. 

When a man consumes too much dairy, it could have a negative impact on their prostate health. 

Although several cohort studies and case-cohort reports indicate a positive link between dairy product intake and prostate cancer occurrence, the results were contradictory. 

In roughly 50% of these studies, high dairy product consumption was considered a major risk factor. 

So, are dairy products bad for you? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shed some light on this question. Here is what experts have to say. (2)

2022 Study on Dairy and Prostate Cancer

Experts conducted a large cohort study of milk of 28,737 Seventh-day Adventist men in Canada and the United States (1). Of all participants, 6,389 were of black nationality. 

Extensive research studies show that family history, age, and ethnicity have a major role to play in developing cancer of the prostate. Men of black ethnicity are prone to aggressive and early prostate cancer. (3)

Scientists assessed participants’ diets using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), which includes a predefined list of beverages and foods. The FFQ helps determine the frequency of consumption for each item over a specific period. To further evaluate the link between dairy and cancer, 275 male subjects also had repeated 24h dietary recalls. 

Over an average 7.8-year follow-up, experts identified 1,254 incident cases of prostate cancer. Men with a daily dairy intake of 430 g had a higher risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those with an intake of 20.2 g.

They found similar reports in advanced prostate cancers. They also compared the effects of drinking milk with non-dairy calcium. 

A classic example of sources of dietary calcium that don’t come from dairy is canned fish, dark green leafy veggies, soymilk, etc. The diet and cancer report concluded that men who exceeded recommended levels of dairy consumption, without a corresponding increase in non-dairy calcium intake, were more susceptible to developing prostate cancer.

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Does Dairy Increase Your Risk of Prostate Cancer?

This is not the only study on milk, eggs, and prostate cancer. Many other reports support this claim. 

A 2020 study on the impact of milk revealed that the intake of low-fat milk was associated with higher odds of non-aggressive prostate cancer, whereas whole milk showed increased odds of a fatal form of the disease. (4)

So, how exactly does dairy cause cancer? And why is milk bad for you? Experts believe the link between milk and prostate cancer might be due to the product’s hormones, calcium, and fat levels. Dairy products are a significant source of calcium. (5)

Dietary calcium intake might influence the development of prostate cancer by down-regulating the production of Calcitriol, a hormone believed to provide protection against prostate cancer.

Other theories suggest that the side effects of milk on prostate health come from the negative effect very high calcium food intake has on overall health. It can hinder the vitamin D balance. 

Studies on milk indicate that fermented dairy consumables might affect the risk of prostate cancer via their effect on the intestinal microbiome. Heavy dairy milk consumption might amplify cancer cell proliferation by increasing insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-1). This is also associated with a bigger risk of prostate carcinoma. (6)

How much dairy is too much? 

Consuming more than 3 servings of dairy products a day for adults can lead to problems. Even if you don’t have lactose intolerance, you can still experience stomach ache, diarrhea, and nausea from going overboard with the milk and dairy products.

dairy and insulin

How Is Dairy Bad for You?

On average, 65% of the global population is lactose intolerant. Dairy consumption could lead to symptoms such as vomiting or nausea. The effects of milk can occur when you’ve drunk too much. 

So, why is dairy bad for you? It can make you sick if you are drinking a lot every day. Other side effects of drinking too much milk include digestive complications. Like diarrhea, cramps, and bloating. Gassiness is a typical side effect of heavy milk intake. (7)

Does milk cause cancer? 

Consuming dairy regularly increases the liver and breast cancer risk. Research on dairy and breast cancer indicates that for every 50g a day of dairy, the odds increased by 12% and 17%, respectively. (8)

Non-dairy Alternatives

If you are worried about the impact of milk on prostate health, then it’s a good idea to add a couple of alternative foods to your diet. 

When you curb your dairy product intake or reduce the dairy portions, you can set your health on the right track. Here are some milk substitutes that would make a worthy addition to your diet. 

These include:

  • Almond milk
  • Rice milk
  • Coconut milk

Many people wonder, does cheese cause cancer? Given the association between cheese and cancer, and the potential increased odds of developing breast and liver cancer with excessive cheese consumption, it’s advisable to moderate your portions

prostate health supplements

How to Reduce Your Risk of Prostate Cancer

Milk is not the only culprit for elevated prostate cancer risk. Many other lifestyle factors do play a role. 

But, this is also a “disease of aging.” Meaning the older you get, the bigger your chances of having it. What you can do is change your lifestyle and diet.

It’s essential to increase your fruit intake and give the body the necessary vitamins and nutrients. Include a wide range of products that offer notable health benefits for prostate health. 

For example, cauliflower and broccoli are cruciferous veggies that feature sulforaphane. This is a compound that could protect against prostate carcinoma.

Eating whole-grain products can also prove useful for the prostate. Whole-grain breads and cereals might curb prostate cancer risk and progression. Maintaining a healthy body weight can decrease the odds of having cancer and other health problems. 

That’s why many experts are suggesting regular physical activity and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle. Smoking and heavy alcohol intake are other habits to steer clear of, as they can harm prostate health. To give your body all the protection it needs, getting enough vitamin D might also help. 

Vitamin D comes from sun exposure and foods. Vitamin D foods include dried shitake mushrooms, wild salmon, and cod liver oil. You can also find it in supplements. Talk to a specialist if you need to replenish your vitamin D intake. 


Is drinking milk bad for you? Consuming dairy products excessively can negatively impact prostate health, as indicated by numerous studies linking milk to an increased risk of prostate cancer. Therefore, reducing portions and opting for non-dairy alternatives can be a prudent choice.

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  1. Michael J Orlich, Andrew D Mashchak, Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, Jason T Utt, Synnove F Knutsen, Lars E Sveen, Gary E Fraser, Dairy foods, calcium intakes, and risk of incident prostate cancer in Adventist Health Study–2, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2022.
  2. Mikami K, Ozasa K, Miki T, Watanabe Y, Mori M, Kubo T, Suzuki K, Wakai K, Nakao M, Tamakoshi A; JACC Study Group. Dairy products and the risk of developing prostate cancer: A large-scale cohort study (JACC Study) in Japan. Cancer Med. 2021.
  3. Stern N, Ly TL, Welk B, et al. Association of Race and Ethnicity With Prostate Cancer-Specific Mortality in Canada. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(12):e2136364. Published 2021 Dec 1.
  4. Sargsyan A, Dubasi HB. Milk Consumption and Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review. World J Mens Health. 2021. 
  5. June M Chan, Meir J Stampfer, Jing Ma, Peter H Gann, J Michael Gaziano, Edward L Giovannucci, Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 74, Issue 4, October 2001, Pages 549–554.
  6. Preble I, Zhang Z, Kopp R, et al. Dairy Product Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk in the United States. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1615. Published 2019 Jul 16.
  7. Malik TF, Panuganti KK. Lactose Intolerance. [Updated 2022 May 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022.
  8. Kakkoura, M.G., Du, H., Guo, Y. et al. Dairy consumption and risks of total and site-specific cancers in Chinese adults: an 11-year prospective study of 0.5 million people. BMC Med 20, 134 (2022).

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