Colorectal cancer or colon cancer is any cancer that affects the colon or large intestine. It is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States in both men and women.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Lund, Sweden, found that a milk protein, lactoferricin4-14 (Lfcin4-14), can significantly reduce the growth rate of cancer cells in the colon.
The findings suggest that Lfcin4-14 prolongs the time it takes for cancer cells to complete a cell cycle, thereby delaying the replication of chromosomes. They also demonstrated that colon cancer cells which have been experimentally exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light exhibited less DNA damage when treated with Lfcin4-14 compared to controls (not treated with the milk protein).
“We previously hypothesised that the prolongation of the cell cycle in colon cancer cells as a result of Lfcin4-14 treatment may give the cells extra time for DNA repair,” said one of the lead researchers, Professor Stina Oredsson.
The results, which were published in the Journal of Dairy Science, showed that there were small but significant differences between colon cancer cells exposed to UV light then treated with Lfcin4-14 and those that were grown without it.
Another study has also shown that the calcium in milk may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. To evaluate the association between consumption of dairy foods, calcium intake, and the risk for colon cancer, Eunyoung Cho, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a pooled analysis of 10 cohort studies from five countries. The studies included more than half a million individuals, among whom nearly 5,000 individuals were diagnosed with colorectal cancer during follow-up.
The results showed that among all of the food sources of calcium that the researchers examined, only milk consumption was associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer.
The study also found that the risk decreased with increased milk consumption; people who consumed 6.2-8.9 oz. per day had a 12 percent reduction in risk of colorectal cancer and people who consumed more than 8.9 oz. per day had a 15 percent reduction in risk. Each two 8-oz. glasses per day increase in milk consumption was associated with a 12 percent decrease in risk.
“These data, in combination with the previous experimental studies documenting a salutary effect of calcium supplementation on colonic epithelial cell turnover and colorectal adenoma recurrence, support the concept that moderate milk and calcium intake reduces the risk of colorectal cancer,” the authors write.