In Honor of ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’, physician members of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to put a warning label on cheese. The requested label would read, “Dairy cheese contains reproductive hormones that may increase breast cancer mortality risk.”
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The non-profit submitted the request on October 3, 2019. If accepted, cheese manufacturers would have to include the warning label on all dairy cheese products. The group has been outspoken about preventative medicine.
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Dairy products are linked to breast cancer. Estrogen in dairy products from cows increase has been associated with breast cancer mortality. Because dairy products are concentrated milk, the hormones become more concentrated as well.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) specified that this includes organic dairy as well as dairy from cows that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics.
Multiple studies have shown the link between dairy and breast cancer. A 2013 study found that for women previously diagnosed with breast cancer, eating one or more servings of high fat dairy frequently led to 49% higher mortality. “High fat” dairy includes butter and cheese, according to PCRM.
A more recent 2017 study found similar links between diets higher in dairy and breast cancer.
Breast cancer is one of the most widely known diseases in the United States. Especially during breast cancer month, many companies advertise their donations to cancer causes, or put pink ribbons on products to show support for cancer cure research. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 41, 487 women died of breast cancer in 2016 in the United States.
Pink ribbons on products is part of the reason for this petition. According to Physicians Committee President Neal Barnard, MD, “Instead of cheese manufacturers like Kraft slapping a pink ribbon on products like Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Macaroni & Cheese, as they have done during previous Breast Cancer Awareness Months, they should be adding warning labels. We want women to be aware that dairy cheese could put them at risk of dying from breast cancer.” Dr. Barnard is the author of the book, The Cheese Trap.