Dairy and Cancer

What BigDairy & BigPharma Don’t Want You to Know About the Big “C”


Is Dairy the leading cause of cancer?

Cancer is the #2 killer, responsible for 1 out of 4 deaths in America


Back in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a “War on Cancer” with the stated goal: to find a cure for cancer in 5 years, by 1976. Nixon kicked off the campaign with $100 million in taxpayer-funding to the National Cancer Institute. Now, almost a half-century later, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) receives about $6 BILLION in annual funding from us taxpayers.1 Still no cure.

However, over that time, we have learned much about the links between cancer and our behavior and environment. Clear cause-and-effect pathways are now well established for cancer due to smoking, diet, obesity, and industrial toxins. The average rate of cancer deaths has therefore decreased by about 1% per year over the past few decades, due primarily to “successes in prevention and control programs.”2


But more and more Americans are still getting cancer. Since 2010, the number of new cancer cases has increased by about 21% in women and 24% in men.3 These increases may be attributed to the aging US population, but the incidence rates of many cancers are on the rise. Cancers of the lung, breast, thyroid, uterine corpus (endometrial cancer), prostate, kidney, and bladder are all increasing in incidence now.


Liver and pancreatic cancers have been linked to the growing obesity epidemic, and those rates are also increasing.4 In fact, the incidence of liver cancer is now rising faster than any other cancer in both men and women. And melanoma (the deadliest kind of skin cancer) has been increasing in both white men and women, likely due to ozone depletion related to escalating climate change.5



Socioeconomic disparities are increasing as well: the relative risk of death after a cancer diagnosis is 33% higher for black patients than white patients. And worse, Native Americans are 51% more likely than whites to die from their cancer.6

The most notable disparities are for the most preventable cancers among the poor. For example, compared to the most affluent communities, mortality rates in the poorest communities are double for cervical cancer and 40% higher for male lung and liver cancers.7


The economics of cancer is mind-boggling. Just over the past decade, Americans’ spending on cancer drugs has doubled. And it’s not simply because more and more of us are undergoing cancer treatment (though we are). It’s because over the past decade, the prices of new cancer drugs have doubled. The average annual cost of a new cancer drug in 2013 was $79,000; by 2017 the average cost of new cancer drugs exceeded $150,000.8


Total spending on pharmaceuticals in the US is skyrocketing, and high prices on new drugs is the fastest growing category.9 Over the past two decades, BigPharma has been pushing* high-price cancer drugs that cost billions to develop and can be priced at thousands of dollars a dose. In 2000, only two of the Top 10 selling cancer drugs topped $1 billion in annual sales. Ten years later, all Top Ten cancer drugs exceeded $1billion in sales.10


*A recent report from Altarum, a healthcare watchdog group that supports veterans and low-income families revealed that BigPharma’s “high drug prices are not necessary to fund the development of new drugs.” That price-fixing by BigPharma “produces billions of dollars more in revenue than is necessary to fund research and development operations.” Eight out of ten major drug manufacturers spend more on promotional advertising than on research and development.11



The primary target of BigPharma’s $billions in promotional spending? Doctors.


A report by IMS Health, a company that monitors BigPharma’s finances revealed that in 2004, an “army of 100,000 drug reps targeting the 800,000 physicians in the US spent an average of $10,000 per practicing physician for free meals, free trips to conferences, free continuing medical education (CME) training, and payments for various services like “speaking engagements”, etc.12 Drug reps also gave the average doctor an extra $21,000 in free drug samples. The total tab for lavishing doctors with free trips and other freebies was $23.7 billion that year, and “that was DOUBLE THE MONEY that BigPharma spent influencing physicians just 6 years earlier.”


As doctors push BigPharma’s higher-priced cancer drugs, the rising costs are passed on to the patients. The net result: cancer patients are now paying way more out-of-pocket for their treatments.13 “For many patients, when they get the bills, it can be as bad as some of the side effects of the disease or the treatment,” says Dr. Gary Lyman of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, who has studied the impact of rising medical bills on cancer patient recovery. “Recent studies we’ve done have shown escalating rates of bankruptcy over the past decade among patients with cancer.” Dr. Lyman says cancer patients are now 2.5 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than healthy people, and “the patients who go bankrupt are 80% more likely to die from the disease than other cancer patients.”14



The trend in increasingly higher-priced cancer drugs over the past decade is the result of predominant focus by BigPharma on genetic research. Genetic experimentation is complex and costly, but once patented the investments have proven to translate into record profits for drug companies.


This emphasis on genetic research has proliferated with full-throated support (and the financial backing of billions of our tax dollars) via the National Cancer Institute. In their educational and promotional materials, the National Cancer Institute promotes that “cancer is a genetic disease..caused by certain changes to genes.” That “genes are the basic physical units of inheritance.” And that, “this ‘geneticdisease’..can be inherited from our parents…”

Such hyping of cancer as a genetic disorder is a sort of “genetic nihilism”, as Dr. Dean Ornish refers to it.15 Especially coming from the world’s leading funder of cancer research, such rhetoric cultivates a mainstream misunderstanding that for those who may be “genetically predisposed” to cancer, they are somehow “genetically defective”, and cancer is their unfortunate but near-certain fate.



The fact is only 5-10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects. According to independent genetic research (i.e., research that is not influenced by profit motive) “90-95% of all cancer cases have their roots in our lifestyle and environment.16 The lifestyle factors include diet, obesity, cigarette smoking, alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, stress and other factors. The evidence indicates that as many as 35% of cancer-related deaths are linked to diet, 25-30% due to tobacco, about 15-20% due to infections, and the remaining due to other factors like radiation, stress, physical activity, environmental pollutants etc.”17



“Everybody talks about the genes that they received from their mother and father, for this trait or the other. But in reality, those genes have very little impact on life outcomes. Our biology is way too complicated for that and deals with hundreds of thousands of independent factors. Genes are absolutely not our fate.”18 ~ Craig Venter, genomic research pioneer

For example, a recent gene expression study, led by Dr. Dean Ornish, published the first randomized controlled trial showing how improved lifestyle changed the expression of over 500 genes in men with early stage prostate cancer..19 Lifestyle changes included a dairy-free plant-based diet (predominant fruits, vegetables, legumes, soy products, and whole grains low in refined carbohydrates), moderate exercise (walking 30 minutes per day), stress management techniques (yoga-based stretching, breathing techniques, meditation, and guided imagery for one hour per day), and participating in a weekly one-hour support group.”

In just 3 months, biopsies revealed that the lifestyle changes could actually “turn off” the disease promoting genes in men with prostate cancer. As Dr. Ornish explains, “In most cases, our genes are only a predisposition; they are not written in stone. And if we have a strong family history for diseases such as prostate cancer, breast cancer, or heart disease– “bad genes”– then we may need to make bigger changes in lifestyle in order to help prevent or even reverse chronic diseases. In the centuries-old debate about nature vs. nurture, we are learning that nurture affects nature as much as nature affects nurture. It’s not all in our genes”



The results of Dr. Ornish’s study are consistent with a broad body of evidence20 that finds: “dietary factors are estimated to be responsible for up to 35% of all cancers in the US, [and] may be linked to as many as 70% of cases of colorectal and prostate cancer, and 50% of cases for breast, endometrial, pancreatic, and gallbladder cancer.”


In Dr. Ornish’s study on prostate cancer, the specific dietary component associated with increased risk of prostate cancer is saturated fat. In fact, epidemiological AND laboratory research has shown specifically that saturated fat from dairy-based foods is linked to an overall 51% higher risk of having highly aggressive cancer, compared to diets lowest in saturated fat.21


As we explored in our article on Dairy and Obesity, saturated fat intake is a leading factor in skyrocketing rates of obesity22. And the leading source of saturated fat in Americans’ diets is dairy-based foods23 Our investigation concludes that dairy-based foods are a leading driver of America’s obesity epidemic.



And, as it turns out, the epidemic of obesity is now rivaling smoking as a leading cause of cancer24.


Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that 40% of all new cancers diagnosed in the US are related to obesity25. The CDC cites a recent report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which finds that 13 cancers are associated with obesity, including: cancers of the breast, gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, thyroid, kidney, ovaries, uterus, colon, rectum (colorectal), and other cancers…


According to IARC data, “55% of all new cancers diagnosed in women and 24% of those diagnosed in men are associated with overweight and obesity.26

Another study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found a correlation between children born to obese mothers and the probability of developing childhood cancer.27 Researchers reviewed about 2 million birth records and 3000 cancer registry records and found that children born to obese mothers (BMI > 40 or 100 lbs or more overweight) had a 57% higher risk of developing leukemia before age 5.



“The higher the mothers’ BMI, the higher the cancer rates in their children.”28

The preponderance of research and data linking diet and the epidemic of obesity to over 40% of all diagnosed cancers, including childhood cancer is a stunning revelation. It casts significant doubt on the motives of the National Cancer Institute focusing 14 times more funding ($3.3 billion) on high-stakes genetic research over funding research on prevention ($232 million), especially given only 5-10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects. And given “90-95% of all cancer cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes including diet.29


The rising rates and diversity of cancers linked to the burgeoning epidemic of obesity reveals certain truths borne out of the various research presented above:



that cancer can no longer be viewed as a sort of “predestined genetic-time bomb setting itself off within us. Rather, cancer is a natural biological response to an increasingly toxic environment, and an increasingly unnatural diet and compromised immune function.”30



that cancer is primarily a lifestyle disease in which 90-95% of risk factors are modifiable (eg, obesity, diet, excess alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, exercise and other factors), and therefore preventable.31


that “a broad body of scientific evidence links specific plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, plant constituents such as fiber, antioxidants and other phytochemicals, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight to reduced risk of cancer diagnosis and recurrence.”32


that the epidemic of obesity has shone a harsh light on the dark motives of America’s so-called “War on Cancer”: while the National Cancer Institute invests $billions in taxpayer dollars to help BigPharma profit $trillions off high-priced cancer drugs, more and more Americans get cancer and less and less can afford to relieve their suffering and death.


the epidemic of obesity has further revealed beyond any reasonable doubt that dairy-based foods are a leading contributor to cancer, America’s #2 killer:


  • Obesity contributes to 40% of all cancer diagnoses in the US each year33

  • Saturated dairy fat is a leading cause of obesity in Americans34:

  • Americans have doubled their intake of butter35, and

  • Americans have tripled their intake of cheese36, therefore,

  • Dairy foods contribute to 40% of diagnosed cancers in the US

Last– Doctors Against Dairy encourages you to share this article on your social media pages and encourage your friends and family to do their own research about the myriad health risks of dairy– and to consider transition to a dairy-free, whole food, plant-based diet for optimal health and peace of mind. Thank you for sharing the Truth About Dairy.




  1. National Cancer Institute, “Most Recent Reported Fiscal Year Budget,” National Institutes of Health, December 20, 2018, https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/budget/fact-book/data/recent-fiscal-year

  2. Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH; Kimberly D. Miller MPH; Ahmedin Jemal DVM, PhD, “Incidence and Mortality Data,” A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Wiley Online Library, January 8, 2019, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21551

  3. Dr. Hannah Weir, “Expected New Cancer Cases & Deaths in 2020,” Cancer & Prevention Control, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, August 16, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/research/articles/cancer_2020.htm

  4. Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH; Kimberly D. Miller MPH; Ahmedin Jemal DVM, PhD, “Incidence and Mortality Data,” A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Wiley Online Library, January 8, 2019, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21551

  5. Dr. Hannah Weir, “Expected New Cancer Cases & Deaths in 2020,” Cancer & Prevention Control, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, August 16, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/research/articles/cancer_2020.htm

  6. Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH; Kimberly D. Miller MPH; Ahmedin Jemal DVM, PhD, “Incidence and Mortality Data,” A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Wiley Online Library, January 8, 2019, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21551

  7. Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH; Kimberly D. Miller MPH; Ahmedin Jemal DVM, PhD, “Incidence and Mortality Data,” A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Wiley Online Library, January 8, 2019, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21551

  8. Murray Aitken, “Global Oncology Trends 2018,” IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, May 2018, https://www.healthpharma.gr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/GlobalOncologyTrends2018.pdf

  9. Ryann Grochowski Jones; Charles Ornsteinand; and Mike Tigas, “Dollars for Docs,” Pro Publica.org, December 13, 2016, https://www.propublica.org/article/updated-dollars-for-docs-heres-whats-new

  10. Neel Patel; Jeff Stewart; and Carlos Loya, “Dealmakers’ Intentions 2015,” Campbell Alliance, inVentivHealth.com/CampbellAlliance, May 28, 2015, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288670406_Dealmakers_Intention_Survey_2015/link/5682f6e208aebccc4e0e1b29/download

  11. Center for Sustainable Health Spending, “Health price growth falls to 1.5%,” Altarum Institute, Systems Research for Better Health, August 11, 2017, https://altarum.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-related-files/CSHS-Price-Brief_Aug_2017.pdf

  12. John Dudley Miller, “Study Affirms Pharma’s Influence on Physicians,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Oxford Academic, August 1, 2007, https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/99/15/1148/1007892

  13. Murray Aitken, “Global Oncology Trends 2018,” IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, May 2018, https://www.healthpharma.gr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/GlobalOncologyTrends2018.pdf

  14. Peter Moore, “The High Cost of Cancer Treatment,” AARP The Magazine, June 1, 2018, https://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/info-2018/the-high-cost-of-cancer-treatment.html

  15. Dean Ornish, MD, “Changing Your Lifestyle Can Change Your Genes,” Prostate Cancer Communications, Patient Advocates for Advanced Cancer Treatment, http://paact.help/changing-your-lifestyle-can-change-your-genes-dean-ornish-md-2011/

  16. P Anand; AB Kunnumakkara; C Sundaram; KB Harikumar; ST Tharakan; OS Lai; B Sung; BB Aggarwal, “Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes,” PubMed.gov, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, September 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18626751/

  17. P Anand; AB Kunnumakkara; C Sundaram; KB Harikumar; ST Tharakan; OS Lai; B Sung; BB Aggarwal, “Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes,” PubMed.gov, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, September 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18626751/

  18. , Dr J. Craig Venter, “Genes have very little impact on life outcomes,” India Today, March 20, 2008, https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/cover-story/story/20080331-dna-of-the-future-735766-2008-03-20

  19. Dean Ornish, MD, “Changing Your Lifestyle Can Change Your Genes,” Prostate Cancer Communications, Patient Advocates for Advanced Cancer Treatment, http://paact.help/changing-your-lifestyle-can-change-your-genes-dean-ornish-md-2011/

  20. Amy Joy Lanou and Barbara Svenson, “Reduced cancer risk in vegetarians: an analysis of recent reports,” Cancer Management & Research, Dovepress, December 20, 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048091/

  21. EH Allott; L Arab; LJ Su; L Farnan; E H Fontham; JL Mohler; JT Bensen; SE Steck, “Saturated fat intake and prostate cancer aggressiveness: results from the population-based North Carolina-Louisiana Prostate Cancer Project,” Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, September 6, 2016, https://www.nature.com/articles/pcan201639

  22. Catherine M. Phillips; Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot; Ross McManus; Serge Hercberg; Denis Lairon; Richard Planells; Helen M. Roche,” The Journal of Nutrition, American Society for Nutrition, March 28, 2012, https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/142/5/824/4630756

  23. N Hanes, “Top Food Sources of Saturated Fat Among U.S. Population, 2005-2006,” Epidemiology & Genomics Research Program, National Cancer Institute, April 20, 2018, https://epi.grants.cancer.gov/diet/foodsources/sat_fat/sf.html

  24. Cancer Intelligence Team, “When Could Overweight & Obesity Overtake Smoking as the Biggest Cause of Cancer in the UK?” Policy & Information Directorate, Cancer Research UK, September 2018, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/sites/default/files/obesity_tobacco_cross_over_report_final.pdf

  25. CDC Newsroom, “Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity Make up 40 percent of Cancers Diagnosed in the United States,” Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CDC 24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People,™ October 3, 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1003-vs-cancer-obesity.html

  26. CDC Newsroom, “Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity Make up 40 percent of Cancers Diagnosed in the United States,” Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CDC 24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People,™ October 3, 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1003-vs-cancer-obesity.html