There is overwhelming evidence that the burden of cancer could gain ground as a result of the pandemic. Experts have already warned that survival rates could start receding as the NHS grapples to overcome the medical backlog. It can’t be overstated how important diet is to stave off the disease. One line of research suggests dairy foods could double the risk of prostate cancer when consumed in large amounts.
Cancer is a catchall term for diseases characterised by the uncontrollable proliferation of cells.
Medical advances are slowly paving the way to successfully treating cancer, but some types are far more survivable than others.
According to the health body WebMD, prostate cancer features among the five deadliest forms of the disease, alongside lung, breast, pancreatic and colorectal cancer.
But research shows that diet-related factors are accountable for up to 80 percent of cases – and luckily, these are modifiable.
A paper published in the journal Epidemiological Reviews put forward surprising findings suggesting the risk of prostate cancer was doubled in men with high dairy intake.
The researchers wrote: “In these studies, men with the highest dairy intakes had approximately double the risk of total prostate cancer, and up a fourfold increase in the risk of metastatic or fatal prostate cancer relative to low consumers.
“It remains unknown which compound in dairy products might be responsible for this association.
“However, several recent studies which have been able to investigate nutrients more thoroughly suggest that calcium and perhaps phosphorus may play important roles.”
Separate lines of research have previously speculated that it may be the fat content of milk that affects the risk.
Alternatively, fermented dairy products may affect prostate cancer risk through their effect on the intestinal microbiome.
Researchers in one 2019 Study published in the journal Nutrients, said: “Milk intake may increase proliferation of cancer cells through elevated insulin-like growth factor, which is linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.”
Who is at risk?
Exactly why some men develop lethal prostate cancer remains unclear.
Several factors, including age, race, genetic predisposition, have been found to influence risk.
Prostate cancer rarely occurs in individuals younger than 40, and thankfully, 98 percent of cases are diagnosed when the disease is still manageable.
For people with more advanced stages of prostate cancer, however, the survival rate is 30 percent.
Its “dangerous” nature is owed to its ability to spread to other organs in the body, but the majority of prostate cancers are slow-growing and asymptomatic.
“Most older men have some cancer cells in their prostate glands,” explains Harvard Health.