Background: A high calcium intake, mainly from dairy products, may increase prostate cancer risk by lowering concentrations of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1,25(OH)(2)D(3)], a hormone thought to protect against prostate cancer. The results of epidemiologic studies of this hypothesis are inconclusive.
Objective: We investigated the association between dairy product and calcium intakes and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians' Health Study, a cohort of male US physicians.
Design: At baseline, the men answered abbreviated dietary questionnaires. During 11 y of follow-up, we documented 1012 incident cases of prostate cancer among 20885 men. We estimated dairy calcium intake on the basis of consumption of 5 major dairy products and used logistic regression to estimate relative risk.
Results: At baseline, men who consumed >600 mg Ca/d from skim milk had lower plasma 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) concentrations than did those consuming < or =150 mg Ca/d [71 compared with 85 pmol/L (30.06 compared with 35.64 pg/mL); P = 0.005]. Compared with men consuming < or =0.5 daily servings of dairy products, those consuming >2.5 servings had a multivariate relative risk of prostate cancer of 1.34 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.71) after adjustment for baseline age, body mass index, smoking, exercise, and randomized treatment assignment in the original placebo-controlled trial. Compared with men consuming < or =150 mg Ca/d from dairy products, men consuming >600 mg/d had a 32% higher risk of prostate cancer (95% CI: 1.08, 1.63).
Conclusions: These results support the hypothesis that dairy products and calcium are associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer.