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Drinking milk can slash risk of bowel cancer, say researchers
By thinkSPAIN Team Wed, Jul 10, 2019
JUST one glass of milk a day could cut your risk of bowel and colon cancer by between 10% and 20%, according to researchers at a Tarragona province-based university.
The report published in the magazine Advances in Nutrition showed a correlation between consumption of certain dairy products and the likelihood of developing colon and bowel cancer, discovered following an exhaustive meta-analysis carried out by nutrition researchers at the Rovira i Virgili University, which is based in Tarragona city and in the wider province, in Reus, Vendrell, Tortosa and Vilaseca.
One of the world's top 500 universities, according to the UK's annual oracle on global colleges, The Times Higher Education (THE), its biomedical and dietary teams are among a number of research units scattered across the Rovira i Virgili's six campuses.
Its members found that a high level of dairy consumption, compared with a low level, reduces the risk of these types of tumours by 20%, and a small, 200-millilitre glass of milk – skimmed, semi-skimmed or full-cream – cuts the risk by 10%.
A high consumption of milk of any type can reduce the risk by 18%.
Cheese also reduces the likelihood of developing bowel and colon cancer, although less so.
Milk derivatives, such as yoghurt and fermented 'bio' milk drinks, did not reduce the risk, but they did not increase it, either.
And it was not found that higher-fat versions of dairy produce, such as full-cream milk and yoghurt, increased the likelihood of bowel or colon cancer.
This said, skimmed milk was associated with a higher protection against tumours of this type.
Researchers' theory is that the calcium in these products is one of the potential mechanisms that reduce the danger of this type of cancer, as it may have an anti-tumoural effect.
Other components naturally present in dairy products such as Lactoferrine, Butiric Acid, Linoleic Acid and vitamin D – especially in brands of milk with extra vitamin D added – may also be what offers this protection.
Although full-cream milk continually attracts bad press because of its high fat content, the research team says there is 'no reason' to 'advise against' its consumption – whilst 'more studies in this area are needed', the benefits observed from drinking milk mean it 'would be reasonable to encourage' people to consume it, in any format, the report says.
Colon and bowel cancer is highly-preventable, although the nationwide screening programme is only routinely aimed at residents in Spain aged between 50 and 69.
They are invited to provide a stool sample at their local health centres, and if this contains traces of blood – which may not be visible to the naked eye – the patient is called in for a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy can be carried out under sedation upon request, meaning it does not have to be uncomfortable.
Blood in stools, typically found in fewer than 5% of samples, does not necessarily mean cancer – in fact, it is very rare that it does, with on average only around 2-5% of those called in for a colonoscopy found to have malignant lesions.
Early-stage tumours, and polyps – since these can develop into tumours years later – are automatically and painlessly removed during the colonoscopy, and further treatment is often not needed.
The screening programme saves lives, since bowel and colon cancer is largely asymptomatic until an advanced stage.
Its prevalence worldwide is expected to increase by 60% within the next 15 years, although those who live in a country with a standard screening scheme and who fall within the right age group to qualify are likely to be among the survivors, or even not need any treatment other than, at worst, straightforward surgery.
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