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BACKGROUND: Previous studies of primarily Western populations have reported contrasting associations of dairy consumption with certain cancers, including a positive association with prostate cancer and inverse associations with colorectal and premenopausal breast cancers. However, there are limited data from China where cancer rates and levels of dairy consumption differ importantly from those in Western populations. METHODS: The prospective China Kadoorie Biobank study recruited ~0.5 million adults from ten diverse (five urban, five rural) areas across China during 2004-2008. Consumption frequency of major food groups, including dairy products, was collected at baseline and subsequent resurveys, using a validated interviewer-administered laptop-based food frequency questionnaire. To quantify the linear association of dairy intake and cancer risk and to account for regression dilution bias, the mean usual consumption amount for each baseline group was estimated via combining the consumption level at both baseline and the second resurvey. During a mean follow-up of 10.8 (SD 2.0) years, 29,277 incident cancer cases were recorded among the 510,146 participants who were free of cancer at baseline. Cox regression analyses for incident cancers associated with usual dairy intake were stratified by age-at-risk, sex and region and adjusted for cancer family history, education, income, alcohol intake, smoking, physical activity, soy and fresh fruit intake, and body mass index. RESULTS: Overall, 20.4% of participants reported consuming dairy products (mainly milk) regularly (i.e. ≥1 day/week), with the estimated mean consumption of 80.8 g/day among regular consumers and of 37.9 g/day among all participants. There were significant positive associations of dairy consumption with risks of total and certain site-specific cancers, with adjusted HRs per 50 g/day usual consumption being 1.07 (95% CI 1.04-1.10), 1.12 (1.02-1.22), 1.19 (1.01-1.41) and 1.17 (1.07-1.29) for total cancer, liver cancer (n = 3191), female breast cancer (n = 2582) and lymphoma (n=915), respectively. However, the association with lymphoma was not statistically significant after correcting for multiple testing. No significant associations were observed for colorectal cancer (n = 3350, 1.08 [1.00-1.17]) or other site-specific cancers. CONCLUSION: Among Chinese adults who had relatively lower dairy consumption than Western populations, higher dairy intake was associated with higher risks of liver cancer, female breast cancer and, possibly, lymphoma.

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Cancer, China, Dairy products, Diet, Prospective cohort study, Adult, Breast Neoplasms, China, Dairy Products, Female, Humans, Liver Neoplasms, Male, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors