Milk Intake in Early Life and Later Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis

Hyeonmin Gil, Qiao Yi Chen, Jaewon Khil, Jihyun Park, Gyumi Na, Donghoon Lee, Nana Keum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dairy consumption in adulthood has been demonstrated to influence cancer risk. Although childhood and adolescence represent critical periods of rapid growth, the relationship between milk intake in early life and later cancer risk is unclear. Thus, we examined this relationship by conducting a meta-analysis of the observational studies. PubMed and Embase were searched for relevant articles that were published throughout December 2021. The summary relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were estimated using the DerSimonian-Laird random-effects model. The summary RR for the highest vs. lowest milk intake was 0.83 (95% CI = 0.69–1.00; p = 0.05; I2 = 60%; seven studies) for breast cancer, 0.98 (95% CI = 0.72–1.32; p = 0.88; I2 = 51%; four studies) for prostate cancer, and 0.90 (95% CI = 0.42–1.93; p = 0.78; I2 = 83%; three studies) for colorectal cancer. No evidence of an association emerged in subgroup analyses of menopausal status, cancer stage, fat content of milk, life stage of milk intake, or study design. Consistent results were observed in the meta-analyses using total dairy intake. In conclusion, milk intake during childhood and adolescence might not be associated with risks of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer later in life. Given the small number of studies that were included in our meta-analysis, and the high heterogeneity, more studies are warranted for a definitive conclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1233
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: Q.-Y.C. and J.K. are funded by the 2021 BK21-plus education program from the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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