17 Jan 2011

Childhood milk drinking linked to reduced cancer risk

4:49 pm on 17 January 2011

A study from the University of Otago has found drinking milk as part of a school programme may help reduce the risk of bowel cancer later in life.

More than 1000 people were interviewed as part of the study, including patients with bowel cancer and randomly selected members of the population.

Study participants were asked whether they took part in a school milk drinking programme between 1937 and 1967and how much milk they drank per week.

Associate Professor Brian Cox says the study found that people who drank milk at school had about a 30% reduction in the risk of bowel cancer.

He says further research is needed to confirm the study's findings. The results could be useful for future generations, he says, and help New Zealand reduce its high rate of bowel cancer.

Professor Cox and Dr Mary-Jane Sneed conducted the research through the Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Otago.