Greater intake of whole milk is associated with increased risk of death from prostate cancer (PCa), according to researchers.

Analyzing data from 21,660 male physicians in the Physician’s Health Study, Jing Ma, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues investigated the association between intake of dairy products and the incidence of PCa and PCa-specific survival during 28 years of follow-up.

PCa was 12% more likely to develop in men who consumed more than 2.5 servings per day of dairy products compared with those who consumed 0.5 servings per day or less, investigators reported online in The Journal of Nutrition. Skim or low-fat milk intake was positively associated with the risk of low-grade, early-stage, and screen-detected cancers, whereas whole milk intake was associated only with fatal PCa. Men who drank one serving per day or more of whole milk had a 49% increased risk of dying from PCa compared with men who rarely consumed whole milk. Whole milk intake remained associated with risk of progression to fatal cancer after diagnosis.

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“Most importantly,” the authors concluded, “only whole milk was consistently associated with higher incidence of fatal PCa in the entire cohort and higher PCa-specific mortality among cases.”