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Lactose Intolerance May Lower Cancer Risk

There aren't many perks to lactose intolerance - being unable to digest the sugar lactose in dairy products without developing bloating and abdominal pain - but new research from Sweden suggests that people with this condition may have lower risks of breast, ovarian and lung cancer. Although there is a genetic component to lactose intolerance, the researchers reported that relatives of lactose intolerant individuals did not have lower risk of the three types of cancer. The investigators also emphasized, however, that their findings do not prove that avoiding dairy products would necessarily lower the risk of the cancers in normal people. The investigators used data from two Swedish health registers to identify 22,788 lactose intolerant individuals and reviewed their incidence of cancer. They found that the risks of developing the cancers were "significantly lower" among the lactose intolerant compared to people who are not lactose intolerant, regardless of their country of birth and gender. "By contrast, the risks in their siblings and parents were the same as in the general population. This suggests that the lower cancer risk in people with lactose intolerance may be due to their diet," the researchers wrote. However, they noted that a recent review by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute of Cancer Research found a lack of evidence linking consumption of dairy products to breast cancer risk.