Researchers at Lancaster University recently studied whether eating yogurt may lessen the risk of breast cancer.
In the United States, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. While the rate of breast cancer deaths has gradually decreased since 1999, in 2016 the death rate was 20 deaths per 100,000 women. That equaled to just over 41,000 women.
The risk of cancer increases with age, and researchers have determined that inflammation is one possible contributor. In the young, cells repair quickly, but this process is slowed in the second half of life, potentially leading to cancerous tumors. One potential source of inflammation is bacterial cells, which can create toxins that trigger inflammation.
Researchers from Lancaster University hypothesized that bacterial inflammation could cause breast cancer, but consumption of yogurt could lessen the risk of breast cancer. Their results were published in the journal Medical Hypothesis.
Human breast milk is not sterile and contains a variety of bacteria that are helpful to infants. The bacteria help the infant’s immune system to develop by producing a symbiotic microbial flora in the child’s gastrointestinal tract. Breastfeeding is also beneficial to the mother, and breastfeeding decreases the mother’s risk of developing breast cancer. This is thought to be due to the lactose-fermenting bacteria present, which protects against the development of cancer.
The researchers examined two meta-analyses that showed a link between dairy intake and breast cancer. Both meta-analyses found the more dairy products consumed, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, the lower the risk of breast cancer development.
In a press release, study co-author Dr. Rachael Rigby said, “The stem cells which divide to replenish the lining of the breast ducts are influenced by the microflora, and certain components of the microflora have been shown in other organs, such as the colon and stomach, to increase the risk of cancer development. Therefore, a similar scenario is likely to be occurring in the breast, whereby resident microflora impact on stem cell division and influence cancer risk.”
The researchers have not yet fully proven their hypothesis. However, they stated, “There is a simple, inexpensive potential preventive remedy; which is for women to consume natural yoghurt on a daily basis.”
The study suggests that eating yogurt can help to decrease a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
Written by Rebecca K. Blankenship, B.Sc.
- Breast Cancer Statistics | CDC. Cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/statistics/index.htm. Published 2020. Accessed January 25, 2020.
- Marwaha A, Morris J, Rigby R. Hypothesis: Bacterial induced inflammation disrupts the orderly progression of the stem cell hierarchy and has a role in the pathogenesis of breast cancer. Med Hypotheses. 2020;136:109530. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2019.109530
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