(HealthDay News) — For women with a breast cancer diagnosis, high-fat dairy consumption is associated with a higher mortality risk, according to a study published online March 14 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Candyce H. Kroenke, Sc.D., M.P.H., from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues examined the correlation between dairy intake, recurrence, and mortality after breast cancer diagnosis using data from 1,893 female participants in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology study. The women were diagnosed with early-stage invasive breast cancer from 1997 to 2000 and completed the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Food Frequency Questionnaire after diagnosis. During a median follow-up of 11.8 years, 349 women had a recurrence and 372 died, with 189 deaths from breast cancer.

The researchers found that overall dairy intake was positively related to overall mortality, but was unrelated to breast cancer-specific outcomes. There was no association between low-fat dairy intake and recurrence or survival, but high-fat dairy intake correlated positively with outcomes. Those consuming larger amounts of high-fat dairy had increased breast cancer mortality (P trend < 0.05), all-cause mortality (P trend < 0.001), and non-breast cancer mortality (P trend = 0.007), compared with the reference (0 to < 0.5 servings per day). Breast cancer recurrence was positively associated with high-fat dairy consumption, but the association was not statistically significant. The elevated risk persisted across different types of high-fat dairy products.

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“Intake of high-fat dairy, but not low-fat dairy, was related to a higher risk of mortality after breast cancer diagnosis,” write the authors.

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