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Milk and dairy products in cancer prevention: focus on bovine lactoferrin

Hiroyuki Tsuda*, Kazunori Sekine, Yoshihiko Ushida, Tetsuya Kuhara, Nobuo Takasuka, Masaaki Iigo, Beom Seok Han and Malcolm A. Moore

Experimental Pathology and Chemotherapy Division, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tsukiji 5-1-1, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan


Milk and dairy products constitute an important part of the western style diet. A large number of epidemiological studies have been conducted to determine effects of consumption on cancer development but the data are largely equivocal, presumably reflecting the different included components. It has been proposed that whereas fats in general could promote tumor development, individual milk fats like conjugated linoleic acid could exert inhibitory effects.

There is also considerable evidence that calcium in milk products protects against colon cancer, while promoting in the prostate through suppression of circulating levels of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Whey protein may also be beneficial, as shown by both animal and human studies, and experimental data have demonstrated that the major component bovine lactoferrin (bLF), inhibits colon carcinogenesis in the post-initiation stage in male F344 rats treated with azoxymethane (AOM) without any overt toxicity. The incidence of adenocarcinomas in the groups receiving 2% and 0.2% bLF were thus 15% and 25%, respectively, in contrast to the 57.5% control value (P<0.01 and P<0.05, respectively).

Results in other animal models have provided further indications that bLF might find application as a natural ingredient of milk with potential for chemoprevention of colon and other cancers.

Author Keywords: Bovine lactoferrin; Preventive agents; Carcinogenesis; Colon; Rat

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +81-3-3542-2511 (Ext. 4350); fax: +81-3-3542-3586; e-mail: htsuda@gan2.ncc.go.jp