Dairy product, saturated fatty acid, and calcium intake and prostate cancer in a prospective cohort of Japanese men

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Apr;17(4):930-7. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-2681.


Many epidemiologic studies have reported a positive association between dairy products and prostate cancer. Calcium or saturated fatty acid in dairy products has been suspected as the causative agent. To investigate the association between dairy products, calcium, and saturated fatty acid and prostate cancer in Japan, where both the intake of these items and the incidence of prostate cancer are low, we conducted a population-based prospective study in 43,435 Japanese men ages 45 to 74 years. Participants responded to a validated questionnaire that included 138 food items. During 7.5 years of follow-up, 329 men were newly diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dairy products were associated with a dose-dependent increase in the risk of prostate cancer. The relative risks (95% confidence intervals) comparing the highest with the lowest quartiles of total dairy products, milk, and yogurt were 1.63 (1.14-2.32), 1.53 (1.07-2.19), and 1.52 (1.10-2.12), respectively. A statistically significant increase in risk was observed for both calcium and saturated fatty acid, but the associations for these were attenuated after controlling for potential confounding factors. Some specific saturated fatty acids increased the risk of prostate cancer in a dose-dependent manner. Relative risks (95% confidence intervals) on comparison of the highest with the lowest quartiles of myristic acid and palmitic acid were 1.62 (1.15-2.29) and 1.53 (1.07-2.20), respectively. In conclusion, our results suggest that the intake of dairy products may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Calcium, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dairy Products / adverse effects*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Fatty Acids