Is there a benefit in going DAIRY FREE?


I’m new here so wasn’t sure where to post this topic but just wanted to share my story as could be of help to others. I’m 38 now but last year in March I had a sharp, searing pain in my left breast. I had no idea where it came from or why it was there,it came overnight and was that painful that it was difficult to wear even a seatbelt. The pain remained for several months, not always as painful but always there and at night the left breast was always hotter than the right. Then in September I found a lump in the same breast. The lump was about the size of a pea, hard and very sore when pressed so obviously I thought nothing sinister as it pains and generally ‘sinister’ breast lumps are painless.

I then started to get pain in my left armpit aswell. During a week I would say I had pain 5 days in a week, but still thought if there is pain then can’t be anything sinister, also no one in my family has ever had breast cancer and being late 30’s breast cancer unlikely. With work and everything time flies and I got used to having the ache/pain (I know now with hindsight I was stupid).

Always checked the lump to see if anything had changed and by December the lump was bigger I’d say about the size of a 10p, still hot at night and stinging pain when pressed and by now on the other side of the same breast another lump but much smaller and also very painful. So I was now getting worried and made an appointment to see my Doctor, that was an effort in itself as I haven’t visited my Doctor for 20 years, I have never been that ill that I needed to see a doctor. So making an appointment to see my Doctor meant I was ill, I had thought the pain and lump would go away, but it didn’t

So saw my Doctor he examined me, I told him it pained and I had pain in my armpit aswell. He said its probably fibrous tissue and a Fibroadenoma and as mine were painful it’s best to have them taken out, but best for a referal first as they were not mobile.

So during the wait for my appointment at our local breast clinic I looked online. That was the worst thing I ever did, Fibroadenoma said they are mobile, painless lumps. Mine where non mobile, rock hard and painful, so that made me worry. My breast was also hot to the touch, which online said is a sign of Inflammatory breast cancer so by now I was angry at myself for not having gone to see the doctor earlier.

Whilst looking online for conditions that resembled my symptoms, I found other websites regarding breast cancer and diet.

I had decided whatever the outcome my diet was going to change. I read articles about the rate of breast cancer in the UK is 1 in 12, in China it is 1 in 10,000. That is an enormous difference and the possible reason is that Westerners have a mainly Dairy diet and Chinese mainly Soya diet ie Dairy Free. Well that was all I needed.

So the next day after my doctors appointment I threw away all Dairy, all the cheese, cream, yoghurt, milk, butter, everything in my fridge that came from a cow. Aswell as that I cut out all bread, I know it’s not from cows but contains yeast and other additives.

After 3 days, that was all it took, the pain that I had had in my left breast and armpit everyday and night for nearly 9 months had gone. The lump that I had that was the size of a 10p had started to shrink and by two weeks was the size of a pea.

I then had my appointment at the Breast Clinic where I was examined by the specialist nurse and I was sent off to have a Mammogram and after that an Ultrasound. Then I heard the words that I am sure every woman there that day and every other day wanted to hear, it’s not sinister.

I apparently didn’t have fibrous tissue nor a Fibroadenoma but Assymetric glandular tissue, they couldn’t explain how the pain had gone and the lump was smaller, but if it works being Dairy Free and as nothing sinister showed up during the tests, that’s all well and good the Specialist said.

Now I know lots of women on here and at the Hospital when I was there didn’t have such good news, but all I know is that it seems too much of a coincidence that after having constant pain for 9 months 3 days of having a Dairy Free diet the pain had gone and the lump started to shrink. Now 2 months later and still Dairy Free, still no pain and no lump.

I have been told by the Hospital to check for lumps still as Breast Cancer is mainly in glandular tissue, but all I know is that I am sticking to a Dairy Free diet, Soya milk is fine and even if the worst had happened and they had found something sinister I would never go back to Diary as I call it now Cow juice for baby cows and I’m no baby cow!

Furthermore my daughter who is now 20 has had eczema all her life and since we went Dairy free (and bread free) she hasn’t had to use an ounce of hydrocortisone cream, she’s delighted that she has clear skin and all I know it can’t be all a coincidence that within 3 days her eczema and my pain had gone.

I don’t think not having bread had much to do with it, but if you’re not having cheese or butter than not much need for bread.

I’m sorry to be so long winded and I am sure that alot of you have alot to worry about, but I just think beside all the treatment that is needed to beat this, if there is a chance our diets may have an effect anything is worth ago.

If any of you are interested Professor Jane Plant Phd is the academic who had decided after being diagnosed with breast cancer herself to change her diet. I don’t know if I had been diagnosed I would have found the same result with going Dairy Free, but what I do know is that anything is worth a try and there has to be a reason whilst the UK the rate of breast cancer is 1 in 12 and in China 1 in 10,000.

Also I have to congratulate the NHS, I received an appointment within 2 weeks of going to the doctors’ and saw the specialist, had the mammogram and the ultrasound and results the same day, I wouldn’t have had better treatment if I could have afforded to go private.

Good Luck to you all and I wish you all well in any treatment you may be having or any diagnosis you are awaiting.

thanks for sharing your story and glad it’s been so positive. I decided to go dairy free although I realise it’s very controversial and there’s been quite a bit of debate on this site about this.
My husband went dairy free with me and we also cut out red meat. My husband had high cholesterol prior to this and it’s gone right down.

I’ve found that I’ve cut out all the high fat things I used to eat - cheese, chocolate and cakes as a result. This is good as I’ve lost quite a lot of weight but need to lose more. It means I have a much healthier diet as a result.

with regards to bread, I was introduced to the bread-maker by someone on this site. You can put in organic flour and olive oil etc. Yes, you do need some yeast. If you’re interested I can give you details of the bread-maker. My mum has since got one too and does a loaf every day for my brother and his kids. There is an initial outlay of course but the bread works out cheaper.

take care
elinda x

Hi Kayla and elinda, I’ve also gone dairy free…not as 100% as I was at first, have been known to divert if out, but I buy the dairy free vitalite which all the family like, and have gone on to oat milk ‘oatly’ which I now prefer to milk and have cut out cheese! My bc was hormone positive and have read some reports saying to avoid soya so that was soya milk out and I didn’t like the rice milk, but oatly is fab and a good source of calcium as I have slight osteoperosis so need to keep calcium levels up without cheese and milk!
Kayla I was really encouraged to hear your story with the dairy free diet. I’m hoping it’s doing me good too.
take care

I have also gone dairy free after reading the Plant book - she makes a strong circumstantial case for the link with breast cancer. In my case, with secondaries, it seemed a no brainer to give it a try.

I also went dairy free after diagnosis (Nov 09) , as well as really trying to exclude added sugar, so like Elinda I’ve managed to lose some weight - still need to lose some more! I’ve found it pretty easy to do without going down the route of substituting with soya or vegan ‘pretend’ dairy products, even though I do still cook for the rest of my family all of whom eat/enjoy dairy. I realise its partly a control thing viz BC but I do actually enjoy being mostly vegan (I do still eat oily fish and eggs). I think its important to do what seems intuitively right for yourself - and as everybody’s different that’s going to be a different reaction to dairy (in or out) for everybody. I think its about listening to your body, respecting what feels healthy for you, and resisting all those attempts from well (or not so well!) meaning friends & family who want to coerce you back to old ways. Having BC can mean a new start in many ways!
Take care

I read the book in Aug 09 when I was told after 5 years clear I had secondrys. I feel its my part to play in everything and go dairy free. What Jane Plant says all adds up.

After 6 months of chemo and Avastine and dairy free, my tumors have reduced by 80% and are now stable, somthing has to be working. I like to think its the combinations of all 3 . I do have the very odd bit of choc or cheese about once a month but am very very careful and follow her rules. If it dosnt work it dosnt work but I would hate to think I didnt give it a try.

I feel much better for not having dairy and am sure it has really helped me keep my weight down.

V :slight_smile:

I cut out dairy not long after diagnosis, although my own doctor didn’t think dairy was bad (they are not usually trained in nutrition) a doctor/researcher friend said (off the record) don’t go near it! And professional nutritionists always seem to ban dairy, whatever your ailment. I went on to read The China Study by Colin Campbell which totally convinced me - highly recommend this book as it presents lots more evidence than Jane Plant’s book. Mind you he advises going totally vegan - I can’t do without fish/seafood - fish just makes me feel too GOOD!

Not sure if being dairy free has inhibited my cancer or not (am waiting for scans) but being a bit of a podge before, I’ve lost about 3 stones of weight without trying, and actually eating more if anything. Spend more on organic veg these days but save money elsewhere as I can fit into all my old clothes!

I often wonder what proportion of BC sufferers do go dairy free now, compared to the old days - before there was easy access to so much info via the internet etc.

Let me start by saying that I think it is important that people do whatever they want to if they think it is going to help them.

However, as this is a public forum it must be emphasised that Jane Plant’s claims are deeply controversial and there has never been any proof regarding the efficacy of a dairy-free diet - other than perhaps weight loss which has some signficance with ER+ cancers.

Plant is not a medical doctor she is a geologist and her oversimplified claims have been torn to shreds by the scientific establishment. (Breakthrough Breast Cancer are among her harshest critics.)
Plant credits her diet for preventing further recurrences whilst conveniently omitting to mention the chemo and radiation she also had. What I find most despicable is her comment about the women who did not follow her diet going on to relapse and die. That is a sickening claim to make and something a GENUINE medical practitioner or cancer research scientist would never suggest.

See here for an excellent critique.

If veganism played any role in cancer prevention then vegans wouldn’t get cancer. But they do. Me for one.

I didn’t give up dairy because of Jane Plant. As msmolly says, she did chemo at the same time which may have been all or part responsible for the tumour shrinkage. So I’m not expecting my cancer to disappear just because of that, but do think it’s worthwhile just for overall better health and to help my body fight as best it can, at this (maybe too late) stage.

My BC diagnosis led me to really question my diet, whereas I hadn’t ever before, I’d just accepted what I learnt at school, on TV, etc.
When you think about it, consuming dairy products seems really quite bonkers.

“Humans are the only species that will drink the mammary gland extract of another species.” - taken from amusing article here:

I also read Jane Plant’s book but didn’t particulary enjoy the way it was written, but I found the title itself to be a shaft of light into the very dark place I was in around the time of diagnosis - your (my) life in your (my) hands - it totally energised me and gave me back faith in myself, to be in control of my destiny, rather than being a passive patient/cancer victim. I decided to give up dairy from reading much more widely, and for me at this moment in time, it really suits me… Unlike the raw beetroot I had taken to juicing which I am sure has given me certain effects - so I have stopped that!

Hi all,

Quite interested in this, I have been dairy free and gluten free for a number of years, not stuck to it strictly ie had cheese occasionally etc etc but rarely milk in its main form - for me I was diagnosed with BC last Sept and although there are obvious benefits for a gluten and to a degree of dairy free diet it certainly didnt ward off the cancer developing in me!!

I agree with msmolly here, Jane plants claims are far too simplistic and the scientific establisment does tear her views to bits, her claims are viewed as deeply controversial by many , and there is no proof to her claims that a diary free diet prevents BC or a reocurrance.
Having said that, i think it is important that everyone does what they think is best for them.
When we are DX with BC i think we all quite naturaly go searching for a "reason " as to why this has happened , but the truth is that cancer is a very complex desease and there are most likely many factors involved .
For me,I do believe that our enviorment plays a huge part in cancer also the food we eat, since DX i swapped to organic milk mainly because of all the hormones in regular cows milk, im er+ so my onc doesnt recommend soya , and i try to eat organic as much as possible because im fed up of all the additives/perservatives in our food today.
We seem to live in a world of chemicals, everything from our household cleaning stuff to our make up/and lotions and creams we put on our bodies ( check out safe cosmetics campagin ,a real eye opener) i stopped using deodorant when i was dx as a study by Dr Phillpa Debre showed parabens on breast cancer tumours , i know current thinking says there is no proof that deodorants cause BC but nether the less i dont think its right that parabens were found to be on the tumours removed so that was enough for me ( a red light?),there is even oestrogen in our water for goodness sake, so i do believe there are many, many factors involved ,something went wrong with the on/off switch on our cell division , so to get cancer in the first place our immune system had to be compromised . Yet it still amazes me that none of the medical profession concentrate on building the immune system to be as strong as it could be.

All the best to you all

When I was diagnosed w first primary in -96 I too came off dairy and red meat after reading Dr Andrew Weil’s books and stayed off for over 5 yrs and then gradually lapsed back - had 2nd primary (unrelated to 1st) 10yrs after 1st but didn’t go back to original diet and now have bone mets. Have just read Jane Plant’s book but had already gone back to Andrew Weil’s regime straight after dx- don’t like her book but think she has a point, many years after his books were published!I will pass judgement when my treatment has finished(for now).Let’s hope it works for us all!

Personal empowerment and placebo are both very powerful tools in health. But there is a world of difference between saying that something will cure cancer and saying that this might make you feel better.

Plant has made a lot of money from that book - along with a lot of others who’ve jumped on the cancer bandwagon. Ben Goldacre’s fabulous book “Bad Science” is essential reading to be truly aware of the amount of bunkum and manipulated statistics there are out there.

A lot of anti-dairy information on the internet is coming from vegan groups who of course have their own agenda which is coming from a moral/ethical standpoint rather than facts based on empirical science.

If the prevention/cure of cancer was as simple as not consuming dairy products then the legions of medical researchers across the globe working to crack this disease would have discovered it years ago. The most recent research is actually saying that dairy is mildly preventative in post-menopausal women. Also dairy is very high in calcium and various recent studies have shown that women who have higher rates of calcium are at reduced risk of developing BC. So quitting dairy altogether may actually be a very bad way to go.

The EPIC trial has so far discovered that people who ate large amounts of saturated fat (and were therefore possibly overweight) had an increased risk of BC. That is not the same as saying that dairy and BC are linked because most dairy contains saturated fat. Far better to eat low fat dairy so you are not missing out on the calcium.

Most claims pertaining to dairy and cancer on the internet are American and do not apply to us. For example the use of bovine growth hormone in cattle is banned in the EU so we do not consume it anyway.

msmolly I certainly wouldn’t claim that giving up dairy will cure my cancer, but everything you have said about the vegan community and their agenda could equally be said of the dairy industry, and the processed food industry which is enormously more influential and powerful than vegan groups.

The fact that breast cancer is rare in non-dairy eating cultures is not in dispute. Should we ignore that?

I understand to some Prof Plant is a controversial figure, but to imply her motives are financial is quite shocking to me. Her personal story is of developing a secondary cancer AFTER her chemo and rads had finished - having 4 recurrences in 7 months. She details her tumour disappearing after her diet change when having no conventional treatment - does anybody dispute that? I suppose she could be lying - but surely one of her medics would have spoken up if what she was claiming isn’t true? To then go on and be cancer free for nearly twenty years is, if nothing else, highly unusual.


I am vegetarian, but have been thinking about not eating dairy products from an ethical point of view for some years. (Having holidayed on a dairy farm).

This weekend we stayed in a vegan B & B which has further encouraged us. Since being dx with er+ BC in November, I have read many articles, many of which make the comment that it is the hormones in milk which can cause problems, and intensive dairy farming encourages this because milk is often produced from pregnant cows. I stick to organic produce where possible.

I have now decided to cut down/out cheese (I don’t use other dairy products anyway - went off milk years ago).

I have read various comments about soya, one of which said that generally soya is ok, but to avoid fermented products such as soya sauce. I always buy organic where possible - particularly soya. I am seeing onc at the end of the week, and will ask.

Being vegetarian, I have had a high dairy intake over the years, and feel that to avoid dairy now is right for me. Howeve, I don’t think though that diet is entirely responsible for me developing cancer - but has perhaps encouraged it to develop.


Debated if I should comment but thought you’d probably want to know all points of view as I know I would…

I don’t have dairy as I’m intolerant and was dairy free for 7 years before dx. Prior to that we had a reduced dairy diet as my husband has cholestarol problems.

I did have a lot of cheese and a milky coffee everyday in my 20’s though!

QUESTION: What information do you have regarding Jane Plant’s book [Understanding, Preventing, and Overcoming Breast Cancer]? Is dairy-free really a miracle cure?

ANSWER: The dairy-free diet is intriguing, but it’s certainly not a miracle cure. It’s true that cows are sometimes fed lots of hormones to increase their milk production, as well as antibiotics, and that the grass or hay they eat may contain some pesticides. Toxins do tend to be stored in fats or “hang out” in fat. Dairy products tend to be full of fats. Cheese, for example, is basically concentrated animal (cow) fat (and very delicious! — I can’t live without blue cheese myself). So if it’s true that fat isn’t good for you because of the possible toxins in them, and because they can increase blood cholesterol, etc., then a diet that limits dairy fats is probably a good idea. Having said that, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Non-fat organic dairy products can be very healthy and tasty. Keep in mind that life is meant to be enjoyed. Organic regular cheese can be an occasional special treat. And a nice bowl of ice cream every once in a while is a great way to celebrate a good day or a wonderful moment.

—Marisa Weiss, M.D

I found this on

Best wishes Mel xx

As always this is a good subject for debate!

For me, all of this is about reducing risk not providing miracle cures. We know that drinking alcohol can increase risk of developing BC or recurrance but not every woman that drinks even to excess goes on to develop it. Similarly I’m sure that not every women who is teetotal doesn’t develop it.

Dairy falls into the same camp for me. So too does eliminating as many chemicals as I can from the my environment - organic food; cosmetics, shampoos, deodorants all without parabens, parfum, SLS etc; using more natural home cleaning products. Also avoiding red meats or keeping them to very small quantities.

Is this a guarantee? No it isn’t but until someone can tell me exactly what triggered the cancer I want to avoid all possible known risks as much as I can - without making life miserable or too difficult.

I think we’ve become largely blase in the West about what we’re putting in the environment, what we’re using in the home and even putting in our bodies because of the massive glossy advertising industry who would make us believe it’s all great.

Dairy is a massive industry and includes babies milks too. So not an easy one for any researcher to tackle.

Elinda x

Breast cancer rates in “non-dairy eating cultures” are most certainly disputed because the data are hugely unreliable and often outdated. I often hear India cited as a non-dairy eating culture. Such rubbish - milk and yoghurt and ghee play a massive role in the Indian diet - yet their BC rates are low compared to ours. So?

No culture’s dietary habits can be so oversimplistically defined.
What about the consumption of processed carbohydrates? They are unknown in rural Chinese diets (which Campbell cited in his China Study and which Plant uses to prop up her claims.) We could easily say that sugar is the culprit. Or alcohol - also totally absent from the diet of rural Chinese women. Rural chinese women also don’t take the pill or HRT. Was that taken into account? No. Not at all. They start periods later and have children earlier and always breastfeed - all factors which are known to reduce risk of BC. And yet in spite of this we are told - oh no it is simply because they don’t drink milk. Actually Campbell is a vegan and went as far as saying that all meat protein is bad - in spite of the fact that the Chinese diet is not vegan.

It really does seem to me that people have gone ok breast cancer … breasts make milk … ah MILK is the problem! There is just no logic to that argument at all.

Finty I am not suggesting that Plant jumped onto the bandwagon solely for financial gain - I think she believes in what she preaches.
But that doesn’t make her claims true or make her a good scientist.

She is a geologist by trade and training whose scientific methodology in relation to diet and cancer - or rather total lack of it - has been torn to pieces by just about everyone. She added 1 and 1 together and got 3. She has formulated a vague hypothesis but she hasn’t gone any way near to proving it.

She has quit her job as a geologist (her first book has sold 4 million copies so she doesn’t need to keep up the day job it seems) and she is now claiming her diet as a cure-all for all manner of ailments from cancer to osteoporosis. (I mean osteoporosis for heaven’s sake! The one condition which really NEEDS calcium.)
She is banging out books on every subject from depression to prostate cancer.
The alternative medicine section of any book shop is packed to the rafters with this kind of stuff. Unfortunately a lot of people still believe that if something is in print then it must be true. And she is a poster girl for the alternative health community because people would dearly love to believe that all it takes to knock out this disease is to stop drinking milk. If only …

Until I see some solid peer-reviewed incontrovertible studies on this topic telling me to quit dairy I will keep enjoying my feta and cappuccinos and Ben and Jerrys ice crem. The EPIC study should provide a lot of information over the coming years - half a million participants in 10 different countries. It is the largest study of diet and health ever undertaken and I suspect its findings might put Mrs Plant et al out of business. They have already found that the 5-a-day thing has no bearing on cancer prevention at all.