In a case-control study in The Netherlands, we observed a significantly lower consumption of fermented milk products (predominantly yogurt and buttermilk) among 133 incident breast cancer cases as compared to 289 population controls (mean ± SD among users only, 116 ± 100 versus 157 ± 144 g/day; P < 0.01). The age-adjusted odds ratio of daily consumption of 1.5 glasses (≥225 g) of fermented milk versus none was 0.50 (95% confidence interval, 0.23–1.08). When fermented milk was entered as a continuous variable (per g) in either age-adjusted or multi-variate analysis, the odds ratio expressed per 225 g was 0.63 (multivariate-adjusted 95% confidence interval, 0.41–0.96). After multivariate adjustment for intake of fat and other confounders, a statistically significant decrease in breast cancer risk was also observed for increasing intake of Gouda cheese. The multivariate-adjusted odds ratio expressed per 60 g of this fermented product was 0.56 (95% confidence interval, 0.33–0.95). For daily intake of milk, no statistically significant differences were observed between cases and controls. These results support the hypothesis that high consumption of fermented milk products may protect against breast cancer.
This study was supported by The Netherlands Cancer Foundation (Grant CIVO 84-4) and the TNO-CIVO Toxicology and Nutrition Institute.