Consumption of milk as a child and during adulthood may protect against premenopausal breast cancer among women, say researchers.
Norwegian investigators have found that childhood milk consumption is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer before the menopause.Dr Annette Hjartaker and colleagues at the University of Oslo studied 48,844 premenopausal Norwegian women. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires about their milk consumption during both childhood and their adult life. Six years later, at follow-up, 317 of the women had breast cancer.
Milk consumption as a child was negatively related to breast cancer incidence, after adjustment for factors such as age, reproductive and hormonal factors, body mass index and alcohol consumption. However, childhood milk consumption only appeared to be protective against breast cancer among those women aged between 34 and 39, rather than those aged between 40 and 48
Women who drank more than three glasses of milk per day were about half as likely to develop breast cancer as those who did not drink milk. The type of milk drunk - full or low fat - had no effect on risk.
The researchers concluded that there was a clear negative trend in breast cancer incidence rate ratios with increasing combined childhood and adulthood milk consumption.