A 2021 study published in Cancer Medicine has further cemented the link between dairy consumption and prostate cancer in men. Specifically targeted at the Japanese population, this study found that increased consumption of dairy products increased the risk of developing prostate cancer. While there are several studies that positively associate the risk of this disease with dairy consumption in Western nations, very little research has been conducted in Japan where—until recently—prostate cancer was not common. Now one of the most prevalent cancers in Japanese men, researchers wonder if the nation’s increasingly Westernized diet and consequent newfound consumption of dairy products is to blame.
Adopting a Western Diet
Up until WWII, dairy products were extremely rare in the Japanese diet, no doubt due to the fact that 95 percent of people of East Asian descent are lactose intolerant. Post-war, Western influences continued in Japan—including the way Westerns ate. Dairy consumption has steadily become more popular in Japan, beginning in the late 1940s but continuing to climb steadily within the past two decades. For example, cheese consumption among Japanese residents rose by 12.4% from 2013-2017.
The diseases associated with the meat-and-dairy-heavy Western diet are catching on in Japan, and researchers are looking for evidence to support this claim.
Dairy Consumption and Prostate Cancer
Study authors analyzed thorough data taken from 26,464 Japanese male participants over the course of two decades. Their analysis showed a dose-dependent increased risk for prostate cancer development, particularly when it came to milk and yogurt consumption. Participants who drank more milk experienced a higher rate of prostate cancer development—up to 37 percent.
The evidence suggests a strong correlation between dairy consumption and prostate cancer. While correlation does not equate to causation, this research is an important addition to the ever-growing body of literature that positively associates dairy consumption with prostate and other cancers. Based on the research, there is strong evidence to suggest dairy’s deleterious effect particularly on hormone-dependent cancers such as prostate, ovarian, and breast cancer.
Dairy Consumption and Other Cancers
A number of components within dairy may trigger a cancerous effect. All dairy naturally contains bovine hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and IGF-1. These hormones enter the human body and may cause hormone imbalances or trigger the unregulated growth of cells.
For more research on dairy consumption and cancer, read:
Harvard Researchers Claim Cow’s Milk Is Unnecessary
The Link Between Dairy and Prostate Cancer Is Too Significant to Ignore
Study Finds Dairy (Not Soy) Skyrockets Breast Cancer Risk
A few generations into the advancement of the Western diet in Japanese culture and we’re seeing its harmful effects. The fact that prostate cancer is now the most common form of cancer in Japanese men is extremely telling. This study provides the scientific backing for it, but pure observation is difficult to ignore. Dairy is not a health food, and it can lead to some serious consequences over time. Not everyone who consumes dairy will develop cancer, but if you’ve known anyone who has struggled with this disease, you know how horrible it can be—whether you beat it or not. Why take the risk?