Jul 21 2005
According to a new study, although calcium supplements may help prevent the polyps that often lead to colon cancer, it is still not clear whether calcium can prevent colorectal cancer itself.
In a new study researchers reviewed two large studies on the effects of calcium supplements on colorectal cancer, and found that people who took calcium had about a 25% lower risk of developing polyps in their colon.
But they go on to say that is not enough to recommend widespread use of calcium supplements in the hope of preventing colon cancer.
It appears that colorectal cancer is one of the most common and deadly types of cancers in men and women, and although the exact cause is unknown, studies have suggested that various dietary factors, such as calcium, meat, fat, fiber, and vegetable consumption, may possibly play a role in colorectal cancer risk.
Apparently about 30% of older adults develop polyps in their colon, and in many cases, they are non-cancerous, however if left untreated, the polyps can sometimes lead to colorectal cancer.
In the study, the researchers reviewed two previous studies on the role of calcium supplements in preventing the polyps often associated with colorectal cancer.
These studies had involved more than 1,300 people who took calcium supplements and were followed for three to four years.
The researchers say the results suggest that taking 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day seems to have a only a moderately protective effect in reducing the risk of polyps.
The researchers add that although taking calcium supplements is generally considered safe, more studies are needed before they can recommend calcium supplementation for the prevention of colorectal cancer.
According to their research it appears people need about 1,750 milligrams of calcium a day, and calcium supplements usually range from 500 milligrams to 1,500 milligrams.
They do however caution that taking higher doses of calcium may not be well tolerated by some people.
In conclusion, they say that if further studies confirm these protective effects, calcium supplements may be recommended for people who have had polyps and are at higher risk for developing colorectal cancer.
The study appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library.