The researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm concluded those that consumed two yoghurt pots or yoghurt mini drinks were less likely to develop bladder cancer than those that ate no or little yoghurt.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, assessed 82,000 patients over nine years. Participants that had eaten yoghurt were more likely to remain cancer-free than those that hadn’t.
They found yoghurt consumption reduced the risk of cancer in men by 36 per cent and in women by 45 per cent. Other dairy products did not reveal such benefits and the researchers suggested this was down to the inherent functionality present in many yoghurts and not just those with boosted probiotic levels.
"Cultured milk products, such as yoghurt, contain lactic acid bacteria, which have been shown to suppress bladder cancer in rats," said the researchers. "Our research suggests a high intake may reduce the risk."
“Total dairy intake was not significantly associated with risk of bladder cancer. However, a statistically significant inverse association was observed for the intake of cultured milk (sour milk and yoghurt).”
The researchers noted people that regularly ate yoghurt were more likely to value and pursue a healthy lifestyle and therefore be less likely to suffer from diseases such as bladder cancer.
The bladder cancer rates in the study may have been co-implicated with other factors such as the fact half of all cases of bladder cancer in men and a third of those in women are caused by smoking.
Around 10,000 people in Britain are diagnosed each year with the cancer that can spread to other parts of the body if it is goes undetected. The annual death rate is about 5000.
Globally, about 336,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer, according to the European School of Oncology. It is three times more likely to affect men than women.
Although at 82,000, the sample was large, there are some that question the value of studies based on dietary questionnaires because accurate responses cannot be guaranteed. People forget or are expedient with their responses to conceal dietary waywardness.
Other foods known to benefit bladder health are cruciferous vegetables. Researchers writing in the journal, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, found earlier this year that consuming raw cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli could slash the risk of bladder cancer by 36 per cent.
But only raw vegetables carried the benefit, they wrote.
"We found that only intake of raw cruciferous vegetables, but not cooked, fruit or other vegetables, showed a strong and statistically significant inverse association with bladder cancer risk."
That study, published in April, built on a study published earlier in the year that claimed to be the first epidemiological study linking isothiocyanates from cruciferous vegetable to a reduced risk of bladder cancer.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
2008 88: Pp 1083-1087
"Cultured milk, yogurt, and dairy intake in relation to bladder cancer risk in a prospective study of Swedish women and men"
Authors: Susanna C Larsson, Swen-Olof Andersson, Jan-Erik Johansson and Alicja Wolk