Yogurt consumption and risk of colorectal cancer in the Italian European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition cohort

Int J Cancer. 2011 Dec 1;129(11):2712-9. doi: 10.1002/ijc.26193. Epub 2011 Aug 5.


Fermented dairy products like yogurt have been suggested to protect against colorectal cancer (CRC). We conducted a prospective study on 45,241 (14,178 men; 31,063 women) volunteers of the EPIC-Italy cohort who completed a dietary questionnaire including specific questions on yogurt intake. During 12 years of follow-up, 289 volunteers were diagnosed with CRC. Hazard ratios (HRs) for the disease and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by Cox proportional hazard models, stratified by dietary questionnaire and adjusted for energy intake and other potential confounders. Yogurt intake was inversely associated with CRC risk. For the energy-adjusted model, HR for CRC in the highest versus lowest tertile of yogurt intake was 0.62 (95% CI, 0.46-0.83). In the full model adjusted for energy, simple sugar, calcium, fiber, animal fat, alcohol and red meat intake, as well as body mass index, smoking, education and physical activity, HR was 0.65 (95% CI, 0.48-0.89) in the highest versus lowest tertile. The protective effect of yogurt was evident in the entire cohort, but was stronger in men, although there was no interaction of sex with the yogurt-CRC association (p(interaction) 0.20, fully adjusted model). In our prospective study, high yogurt intake was significantly associated with decreased CRC risk, suggesting that yogurt should be part of a diet to prevent the disease. Investigation of larger cohorts is necessary to reveal any residual confounding of the association of yogurt intake with CRC risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • White People
  • Yogurt*