A worrying new study has warned that drinking dairy milk can increase your risk of breast cancer by up to 80%.
Researchers from Loma Linda University looked at the effect of drinking different types of milk on women’s breast cancer risk.
Their findings suggest that even relatively moderate amounts of dairy milk can increase women’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Dr Gary Fraser, who led the study, said: “Consuming as little as 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dairy milk per day was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer of 30%.
“By drinking up to one cup per day, the associated risk went up to 50%, and for those drinking two to three cups per day, the risk increased further to 70% to 80%."
In the study, the researchers analysed the diets of nearly 53,000 women in the US, all of who were initially cancer free, and were followed for nearly eight years.
At the end of the eight years, 1,057 women had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
An analysis of their diets revealed no clear link between soy products and breast cancer.
However, the researchers were surprised to discover a strong link between the disease and milk consumption - whether it was full fat or nonfat milks.
Dr Fraser said: “Dairy foods, especially milk, were associated with increased risk, and the data predicted a marked reduction in risk associated with substituting soymilk for dairy milk. This raises the possibility that dairy-alternate milks may be an optimal choice.”
While the reason for this link remains unclear, the researchers suggest that it may be due to the presence of sex hormones in dairy milk.
Dr Kotryna Temcinaite, Research Communications Manager at Breast Cancer Now, however, highlighted that the study doesn't prove a conclusive link.
She said: "While this US-based research suggests that consuming larger amounts of some dairy products could be linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, it does not prove a conclusive link. Currently, there is no definitive evidence about whether and how dairy products in the diet may affect someone’s chances of developing breast cancer.
“This is a large study, however people’s diets were only recorded once at the start of the research and some of their habits may have changed over the eight-year period. Further research into soy and dairy products is now needed to understand if any specific elements in these foods could potentially be involved in a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
"What we do know is that maintaining a healthy weight over your lifetime, limiting the amount of alcohol you drink and being physically active can all help to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer - even small changes are a great start.