A nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctors started off Breast Cancer Awareness Month by petitioning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add a breast cancer warning label to all dairy cheese products.
During the month of October, food companies put pink ribbons on their products to help raise money for breast cancer research. However, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine wants cheese manufacturers to add warning labels, not just pink ribbons.
“Instead of cheese manufacturers like Kraft slapping a pink ribbon on products like Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Macaroni & Cheese, as they have done during previous Breast Cancer Awareness Months, they should be adding warning labels,” says Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, MD, author of The Cheese Trap.
“We want women to be aware that dairy cheese could put them at risk of dying from breast cancer.”
They want the warning label to say, “Dairy cheese contains reproductive hormones that may increase breast cancer mortality risk.”
A 2017 study by the National Cancer Institute found, “that those who consumed the most American, cheddar, and cream cheeses had a 53 percent increased risk for breast cancer.”
The reasoning for the increase risk of cancer is linked to “components in dairy such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and other growth hormones.” Dairy products contain traces of estrogen from cows and when processed into cheese, the estrogen becomes more concentrated.
A study done by Kaiser Permanente researchers tested to see if full-fat dairy products increased the risk of breast cancer recurrence, and the risk of dying from breast cancer. The researchers found, “a 49% higher risk of dying from breast cancer compared to women who ate fewer servings per day of full-fat dairy products or women who ate low-fat dairy products.”
Breast Cancer Research Foundation states that, “In the U.S. in 2019, there will be an estimated 271,270 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women and 2,670 cases diagnosed in men,” with an estimated 42,260 deaths from breast cancer.
Breastcancer.org encourages people to eat a healthy diet that consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Researchers have found that diet plays a part in 30% to 40% of all cancers. Eating less processed and high-fat foods like dairy products have shown to help boost your immune system and may lower your risk of breast cancer.
“Breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is plant-based and low in total fat.”
While more research is needed to see if low-fat dairy products pose a similar risk – doctors believe there is enough research to issue warning labels on all dairy cheese products. The petition concluded with, “To ensure that Americans understand the potential significant risks, and resulting long-term costs, of consuming dairy cheese products, the FDA should ensure that the notice above is prominently placed on product packaging and labeling for all dairy cheese products.”
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.