Why cheese 'is a concern' for every woman

Committee urging FDA for breast cancer warning labels on cheese speaks out

ROANOKE, Va. – A group of more than 12,000 doctors is warning that something most people keep in the fridge regularly may lead to breast cancer: cheese.

"This is a concern for every woman, not just someone who's had a diagnosis," said Lee Crosby, a registered dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who studied at both Virginia Tech and UVA.

Doctors said the high-fat dairy product contains high levels of estrogen, which research shows can lead to increased risk of both diagnosis and death from breast cancer. One study shows women who consumed the most cheese had a 53 percent higher risk of getting the disease. That's why the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is urging the FDA to put cancer warning labels on cheese with the exact wording: "Dairy cheese contains reproductive hormones that may increase breast cancer mortality risk."

"They have the right to know," Crosby said. "It's just like when you get in a car, you put on a seat belt. I think there's enough evidence here to ask or suggest that women go ahead and pass on the cheese."

The committee issued a petition Oct. 3 to the FDA. There’s been no response so far, though the FDA has generally opposed adding warning labels to foods and drinks. Crosby, however, is optimistic about the plea, hoping it will require manufacturers to do more to promote breast cancer awareness than just slap a pink ribbon on products.

“Which makes it look like these foods might be beneficial for breast cancer or at the very least not harmful when, really, it appears that the opposite is true,” Crosby said. “It just sends my blood pressure up a little bit."

If the FDA ignores the committee's petition, Crosby said they'll try to get the word out on their own through social media and targeted campaigns. Click here to see the campaign they've already launched that tells women what they can do to lower their risk of breast cancer.

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