How do milk products help reduce the risk of cancer?

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Several studies have suggested that the consumption of high levels of cultured milk products, such as yogurt and buttermilk, may reduce the risk of colon cancer. The anticancer effects of these foods extend well beyond the colon, however. Various probity species have demonstrated the immune-enhancing and antitumor effects, but they also play a critical role in the detoxification of many cancer-causing substances, including hormones, meat carcinogens, and environmental toxins.

One of the key ways in which the body gets rid of "bad" substances, such as excess estrogen and fat-soluble toxins, is by attaching them to a molecule called glucuronic acid and then excreting this complex in the bile. However, the bond between the "bad" molecule and its escort can be broken by glucuronidase, an enzyme secreted by bacteria. Excess glucuronidase activity means more of the "bad" molecules are present in the body. This, in turn, is associated with an increased cancer risk, particularly the risk of estrogen-dependent breast cancer. Glucuronidase activity is higher in people who eat a diet high in fat and low in fiber. The level of glucuronidase activity may be one of the key underlying factors explaining why certain dietary factors cause breast cancer and why other dietary factors are preventive. The activity of harmful bacterial enzymes can be reduced by making sure the digestive system maintains the proper balance of bacterial flora, especially the health promoting lactic acid bacteria found in yogurt.
Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

More About this Book

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

From the bestselling authors of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, the most comprehensive and practical guide available to the nutritional benefits and medicinal properties of virtually everything...

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.