Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 25, Issue 7, pp 795–808 | Cite as

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

  • Melissa A. Merritt
  • Elizabeth M. Poole
  • Susan E. Hankinson
  • Walter C. Willett
  • Shelley S. Tworoger
Original paper

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, ptrend = 0.05), a non-significant inverse association with lactose intake (HR 0.87, 95 % CI 0.69–1.11, ptrend = 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, ptrend < 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 

Supplementary material

10552_2014_381_MOESM1_ESM.docx (35 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 34 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa A. Merritt
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 7
  • Elizabeth M. Poole
    • 1
    • 4
  • Susan E. Hankinson
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • Walter C. Willett
    • 1
    • 4
    • 6
  • Shelley S. Tworoger
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.OB/GYN Epidemiology CenterBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biostatistics and Computational BiologyDana-Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA
  4. 4.Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  5. 5.Division of Biostatistics and EpidemiologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  6. 6.Department of NutritionHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  7. 7.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public HealthImperial College LondonLondonUK

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