Eating two or more servings of yogurt weekly may help to decrease the risk of developing adenomas—abnormal growths that precede the development of bowel cancer—according to researched published in Gut. However, this correlation only applies to men.
A press release on the study says that researchers looked at 32,606 men who were part of the Health Professionals Follow Up Study and 55,743 women who were part of the Nurses Health Study. During the study period, 5,811 men developed adenomas, and 8,116 women developed them.
Men who ate two or more servings of yogurt per week were 19% less likely to develop an adenoma than those who ate less yogurt, and had a 26% lower risk of developing adenomas that were highly likely to become cancerous.
No such associations were found in women.
One possible explanation is that Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, both of which are often found in yogurt, may lower the number of cancer-causing chemicals in the gut. Another potential explanation is that the anti-inflammatory properties of yogurt may reduce the leakiness of the gut.
The release notes that, while the large number of people studied and the regular updates on diet and lifestyle factors add weight to the findings, this is an observational study and cannot, therefore, establish cause.