A study has found that those who drank free milk supplied at schools have a reduced risk of bowel cancer.
Associate Professor Brian Cox and Dr Mary Jane Sneyd at Otago University revealed that they found a 30 per cent reduced risk of bowel cancer for those who took part in school milk programmes.
They explained that calcium - a nutrient in milk more commonly associated with healthy bone development - may affect the growth of bowel adenomas, benign tumours that can become malignant.
"Although calcium supplementation in adults has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrent adenoma, the effect of childhood dietary calcium on their initial development is not known," the New Zealand Herald quoted the authors as writing.
Cox said, "The research team is currently planning further research which, if funding can be obtained, could confirm that the provision of milk at school can significantly reduce the risk of bowel cancer in future generations."
He added, "It's not clear how much changing your diet in adulthood would change your risk of bowel cancer."
The study appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology.