From Our 2010 Archives

Study Disputes Link Between Milk and Kidney Cancer

THURSDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- If you were worried about drinking milk because of a reported link with a type of kidney cancer, you can relax. A new study suggests no such association exists.

"The data in this study provide no concrete evidence of a need to alter milk drinking in any way," the study's lead author, Nicholas Timpson, a lecturer in genetic epidemiology at the University of Bristol in England, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research. "If anything, the failure of genetic findings to replicate the association between milk and renal cell cancer suggests that fears that milk consumption might elevate cancer risk are likely to be unfounded."

Timpson and his colleagues studied patients at hospitals in four European countries from 1999 to 2003, looking to see whether a genetic variation associated with lactose tolerance could be a marker for a link between milk consumption and the risk for renal cell carcinoma, a type of cancer that affects small tubes in the kidney.

"We found evidence for the often-questioned relationship between milk consumption and cancer, yet when we used genotypes to verify this relationship, there was no corroboratory evidence," Timpson said. "This does suggest that the basic findings may be subject to the kinds of biases and inaccuracies that often upset epidemiological research." He added that research would be needed "on a much larger scale in order to verify these initial findings."

The study is in the May issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Johanna Lampe, a nutrition scientist in the division of public health sciences at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, wrote in an accompanying commentary that the study is "a reminder to proceed with caution when interpreting data that suggest an association between intake of specific foods and risk of a particular cancer."

"Human diet is complex and typically involves adherence to certain dietary patterns that are also tied to other lifestyle behaviors," Lampe wrote.

-- Randy Dotinga

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SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, May 6, 2010