Original paper

Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 25, Issue 7, pp 795-808

First online:

Dairy food and nutrient intake in different life periods in relation to risk of ovarian cancer

  • Melissa A. MerrittAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthOB/GYN Epidemiology Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolDepartment of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer InstituteDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Imperial College London Email author 
  • , Elizabeth M. PooleAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthChanning Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • , Susan E. HankinsonAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthChanning Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolDivision of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Massachusetts
  • , Walter C. WillettAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthChanning Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolDepartment of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health
  • , Shelley S. TworogerAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public HealthChanning Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

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Abstract

Purpose

High lactose intake has been suggested to increase epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) risk. We evaluated the association between lactose consumed during specific life periods (high school, premenopause, and postmenopause) and later risk of EOC.

Methods

We assessed the association of dairy food and nutrient intake with risk of EOC during 28 years of follow-up including 764 cases in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHSII. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to model the hazard ratios (HRs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) for EOC across categories of dairy food or nutrient intake. We examined dietary intake in adulthood overall, as well as during premenopausal/postmenopausal years and high school.

Results

In analyses of the highest versus lowest cumulative average intake in adulthood, we observed a non-significant inverse association with skim milk intake (HR 0.76, 95 % CI 0.54–1.06, p trend = 0.05), a non-significant inverse association with lactose intake (HR 0.87, 95 % CI 0.69–1.11, p trend = 0.22) and no association with consumption of whole milk, dairy calcium, or dairy fat. Similar risk estimates were observed for dairy food/nutrient intake during high school, premenopause or postmenopause. Lactose intake in adulthood was inversely associated with risk of endometrioid EOC (HR 0.32, 95 % CI 0.16–0.65, p trend < 0.001).

Conclusions

These findings do not support the hypothesis that higher lactose intake increases EOC risk. The inverse association with endometrioid tumors deserves further study.

Keywords

Ovarian cancer Dairy Milk Lactose Calcium Fat