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Nutrition, Herbs and Supplements » Vitamins/Minerals

Calcium vs. Colorectal Adenomas

Health care professionals and much of the general public are aware that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer. They also know that eating too much animal fat and red meat seems to increase risk.

This study aimed at identifying what role calcium might play in the biological mechanisms underlying how such cancer may be caused or prevented.

This was a randomized, double-blind trial of 930 subjects (mean age 61; 72% men) with a recent history of colorectal adenomas. The subjects received either calcium carbonate or a placebo daily and got follow-up colonoscopies one year and four years later. Results showed that those who received calcium supplements had a lower incidence of recurrence of adenomas. The results were consistent with epidemologic data and are supported by a large body of experimental data on humans and animals.

Conclusions: Taking calcium carbonate may significantly-though moderately-reduce the risk of recurrent colorectal adenomas. And since the toxicity of this simple and inexpensive supplement is minimal and it may have other benefits (such as reducing the risk of osteoporosis), "its risk-benefit balance may be favorable."

Baron JA, Beach M, Mandel JS, et al. Calcium supplements for the prevention of colorectal adenomas. The New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 14, 1999;340(2), pp101-7.


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