Calcium Continues to be Linked to Colon Cancer Prevention: Large Meta-analysis Study
Source: International Journal of Cancer (2014)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (July 12, 2017)
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death when you combine the statistics for men and women. Studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggest that 70-90% of colon cancer cases can be prevented through prudent dietary and lifestyle practices. One of the factors that appear to be linked to colon cancer prevention is the optimal intake of calcium from day to day. In fact, over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested that calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer. Animal studies have shown this effect, and many population studies (epidemiological studies) have shown a strong correlation between higher calcium intake and lower incidence of colorectal cancer.
A meta-analysis published in 2014 in the International Journal of Cancer has provided additional evidence that higher calcium intake, including calcium supplements, is associated with a significant reduction in risk of colorectal cancer. The meta-analysis combined the data from 15 various human studies. The data showed that for every 300 mg increase in calcium from supplements there was an associated 9% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer and that for every 300 mg increase in total calcium (combination of food and supplements) there was an associated reduction in risk of 8%. This means that a calcium intake of 1200 mg per day, which what you should be shooting for to optimize bone density and prevent osteoporosis), is also associated with reducing the risk of colon cancer by 32-36%. That is a significant reduction in risk. Unfortunately, most people have a calcium intake that is much lower than that (500-800 mg per day).
How does calcium reduce colon cancer risk? Studies suggest that calcium slows down the rate of cell division of cells that line the colon. When you slow down cell division, cells tend to make fewer genetic mistakes that lead to cancer development. Also, calcium binds to bile acids in the gut, which prevents their conversion into cancer-causing secondary sterols (lithocholic and deoxycholic acids).So, the take-home message appears to be to ensure that you are getting sufficient calcium-rich foods each day. And if necessary, use a supplement containing additional calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D works with calcium for support but is also linked to lower colon cancer risk.
I’ve included a list of healthy, calcium containing foods below, showing that number of milligrams of calcium available in a standard serving size. I think you’ll find it to be a good reference.
I also included the scientific reference below for the meta-analysis study.
Sources of Calcium From Common Healthy Foods
Amount of Calcium (mg)
Low Fat Yogurt
Low Fat Milk (nonfat,1%)
Low Fat Cottage Cheese
Sardines with bones
Salmon with bones (canned)
Processed Tofu with calcium sulfate
Stalk of Broccoli
Whole Wheat Bread
Apricots, raw, dried
Prunes, dried raw
Dry-roasted soybean nuts
- Keum N, Aune D, Greenwood D.C., Ju W, Giovannucci E.L. Calcium intake and colorectal cancer risk: Dose-response meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. International J Cancer (2014) 135 (8): 1940-1948)
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
DC, MS, ROHP
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino is an associate professor in the division of physiology and biochemistry at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, where he has taught nutrition and biochemistry since 1984. He has also taught the second and third nutrition courses at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and has been a faculty member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Dr Meschino has authored four nutrition/wellness/anti-aging books, and is the principal educator for the Global Integrative Medicine Academy (www.gim-academy.com). Dr. Meschino has lectured extensively throughout North America and is the formulator for Adeeva Nutritionals Canada Inc – a professional line of supplements dispensed by many healthcare practitioners and natural health product retailers (www.adeevainfo.com).