Relationship between calcium, lactose, vitamin D, and dairy products and ovarian cancer

Nutr Cancer. 2006;56(1):22-30. doi: 10.1207/s15327914nc5601_4.


Few prospective studies of the relationship between intake of dairy foods, calcium, vitamin D, and lactose and ovarian cancer have been conducted, and results have been largely inconsistent. Two recent studies found significant increased risk with frequent dairy consumption and perhaps with high intakes of calcium or lactose. The authors investigated the association between these foods and nutrients and ovarian cancer risk among 31,925 subjects in the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project follow-up cohort. Multivariable (MV) relative risks (RRs) adjusted for age, parity, and other factors were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models. Over an average follow-up of 8.3 yr, 146 incident ovarian cancer cases were confirmed. Higher intakes of total dairy food (comparing four or more servings per day vs. less than one serving per day) were associated with a statistically significant decreased risk of ovarian cancer, although the trend was not significant (MV RR = 0.42; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.20-0.89; P for trend = 0.07). Comparing extreme quartiles, we observed a statistically nonsignificant inverse association between high dietary calcium intake and ovarian cancer (RR = 0.67; 95% CI = 0.43, 1.04; P for trend = 0.08). No statistically significant relations were found for consumption of specific dairy foods, lactose, or vitamin D and ovarian cancer risk. The possibility of a decreased risk of ovarian cancer for dietary calcium merits further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Dairy Products*
  • Diet
  • Diet Surveys
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lactose / administration & dosage*
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Vitamin D
  • Lactose