Cheese is it Worth it? Dairy Linked to Prostate Cancer, Acne, Inflammation and More

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Think cheese is your favorite comfort food? It may be time to rethink that preference. Research on the health effects of dairy has yielded some pretty sour results that may make you want to cut the cheese...right out of your diet.

5 Research-Backed Consequences of Consuming Cheese

1. Dairy May Promote Inflammation

While the research isn't totally clear on this, dairy has been suggested to promote inflammation and increase the levels of pro-inflammatory markers like insulin-like growth factor-1 and oxidative stress, both of which are associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.

Dairy's possible pro-inflammatory effects also explain why organizations like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recognize that dairy consumption may exacerbate symptoms of arthritis, a condition characterized by chronic joint inflammation.

Interestingly, a recent 2017 systematic review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that dairy may have anti-inflammatory effects, but only in people who aren't allergic to cow's milk. Unfortunately, MOST people are intolerant if not outright allergic to dairy, specifically a type of sugar present in dairy called lactose.

At least 65% of adults lack the necessary digestive enzymes to break down lactose. And even though many cheeses are low in lactose, it's a risk many individuals choose not to take with their health.

2. Dairy May Increase the Risk of Prostate Cancer

Multiple studies suggest that consuming dairy may increase a man's risk for prostate cancer or even worsen the progression of the disease, including a 2007 study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Possible hypotheses for the dairy/prostate cancer link include dairy's negative effect on Vitamin D levels, the impact of dairy on male hormones like testosterone, and the impact of compounds present in dairy products including high calcium, fat, growth hormones, and antibiotics.

3. Dairy Can Exacerbate Acne

A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients determined that consumption of cheese and other types of dairy like milk and yogurt increased the risk of acne among people aged 7 to 30.

4. Dairy May Actually INCREASE the Risk of Bone Fractures!

A 2014 paper published in the British Medical Journal involved a combined sample size of 105,000 men and women and determined that higher rates of milk consumption was associated with an INCREASED risk of bone fractures as well as an increased risk in death.

5. Increased Risk of Gastrointestinal Distress

Remember how we learned that the majority of the global adult population is intolerant to lactose, a type of milk sugar found in dairy products and certain types of cheese? In other words, it's likely that your body is negatively affected by dairy consumption, even if you don't have a full-blown cow's milk allergy.

As you can imagine, consuming a food you're intolerant to can lead to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms like gas, nausea, constipation, stomach aches, and bloating.


Negative health effects aside, let's remember that the dairy farming industry has been recognized as a potential contributing factor to climate change, given that dairy cows and the manure they produce emit greenhouse gas emissions. Irresponsible and unsustainable dairy farming has also been linked with depletion of soil and water quality and ecological loss.

Cheese—is it really that worth it?

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