Yogurt is a commonly consumed fermented food. Regular yogurt consumption may contribute to a favorable gut microbiome and gut health, but few epidemiologic studies have considered the relation between regular yogurt consumption and the incidence of and mortality from colorectal cancer.
We used data from 2 large, prospective cohort studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, to examine the role of yogurt consumption on colorectal cancer incidence and mortality.
During 32 years of follow-up in 83,054 women (mean age at baseline, 45.7 years) and 26 years of follow-up in 43,269 men (mean age at baseline, 52.3 years), we documented a total of 2666 newly diagnosed cases of colorectal cancer in these cohorts. We modeled yogurt consumption at baseline and cumulatively updated it throughout follow-up. Results: Baseline yogurt consumption was associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer in age-adjusted analyses (P for trend < 0.001). Associations remained statistically significant after adjusting for potential confounders, including calcium and fiber intake (P for trend = 0.03), and were restricted to proximal colon cancer. The consumption of 1 + servings per week of yogurt at baseline, compared to no yogurt consumption, was associated with a multivariable HR of 0.84 (95% CI, 0.70-0.99; P trend = 0.04) for the proximal colon cancer incidence. Latency analyses suggested that the most important window of opportunity for regular yogurt consumption to prevent colorectal cancer was 16-20 years in the past. When yogurt consumption was cumulatively updated, associations attenuated and were no longer significant. No statistically significant inverse trend was observed between yogurt consumption and the colorectal cancer mortality.
In these large cohorts, the frequency of yogurt consumption was associated with a reduced risk of proximal colon cancer with a long latency period. No significant inverse trend was observed for colorectal cancer mortality.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.