Unpasteurized milk consumption and subsequent risk of cancer

Thomas A. Sellers, Robert A. Vierkant, Julie Djeu, Esteban Celis, Alice H. Wang, Nagi Kumar, James R. Cerhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Concerns have been raised regarding the possible adverse health effects of consumption of unpasteurized milk and risk of cancer. We examined the association of self-reported intake of unpasteurized milk with subsequent risk of cancer in a large population-based cohort study. The Iowa Women's Health Study is a prospective cohort study of 55-69 year old women at baseline in 1986. Of the 41,836 women in the cohort at baseline, 22,808 cancer-free women completed the fourth follow-up questionnaire in 1997. Risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression analysis. Reported intake of unpasteurized milk was high: 59.2% consumed only as a child, 2.5% consumed only as an adult, and 16.5% consumed as a child and an adult. A total of 2,379 cancers were identified in the cohort at risk. Overall, the age-adjusted risk of cancer was lower among women who reported consumption of unpasteurized milk only as a child (RR = 0.90, 95% CI: 0.82-0.99) or as a child and an adult (RR = 0.85; 95% CI: 0.75-0.97). Adjustment for confounding factors attenuated these associations (RR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.83-1.02 for consumption only as a child, and RR = 0.91; 95% CI: 0.79-1.04 for consumption as a child and an adult). These data suggest that consumption of unpasteurized milk does not increase risk of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-811
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Causes and Control
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Cohort
  • Diet
  • Risk
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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