Men who eat yoghurt regularly can reduce their risk of developing pre-cancerous growths in the bowel, according to new research.
Consumers of two or more servings a week were around a fifth (19%) less likely to go on to have an adenoma, according to a study published in the journal Gut.
The abnormal growths often occur before the onset of bowel cancer.
Eating a lot of yoghurt has previously been thought to lower the risk of bowel cancer by changing the type and volume of bacteria in the gut.
The latest study, led by US researchers, tracked 32,606 men and 55,743 women who underwent a lower endoscopy – an examination of the inside of the body – between 1986 and 2012.
The men and women also provided information on their lifestyle and diet as well as how much yoghurt they consumed.
The study found 5,822 adenomas developed in men and 8,116 in women.
Men who ate two or more 245g servings every week were 19% less likely to develop an adenoma than those who did not eat any.
The study also found they were also 26% less likely to develop adenomas that were at a high risk of becoming cancerous, and were at a reduced risk of having large growths.
Eating yoghurt showed no benefit to women, the study concluded.
Researcher Dr Yin Cao, from Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, said: “Our data provide novel evidence for the role of yoghurt in early stage of colorectal cancer development and the potential of gut bacteria in modulating this process.
“The findings, if confirmed by future studies, suggest that yoghurt might serve as a widely acceptable modifiable factor, which could complement colorectal cancer screening and/or reduce risk of adenoma among the unscreened.”