Recent scientific research has uncovered a definite correlation between calcium and cancer. Calcium performs more biological functions throughout our bodies than any other mineral we take in. Everything from feeding our cells to aiding in the replication and repair of our DNA is carried out with the assistance of this renaissance mineral. So, how does the the level of our calcium consumption affect our risk of developing certain types of cancer? Below are some of the recent findings.
Calcium and Colorectal Cancer in Women
A 2009 U.S. National Cancer Institute study found that a daily calcium intake of 1,200 milligrams per day (the equivalent of roughly three servings of dairy products including milk and cheese) in women 50 years and older reduced the chance of developing abnormal growths called polyps, which are the precursors to colorectal cancer. The study also found that calcium promotes healthy regeneration within the gastrointestinal system by producing “calcium soaps” that reduce the ability of naturally occurring acids in the gastrointestinal tract to damage cells that might lead to problems during replication.
Calcium and Vitamin D
A study headed by Harvard’s Dr. Jennifer Lin found that calcium, when coupled with increased intakes of Vitamin D (obtained from sun exposure and from a wide variety of oily fish including tuna, salmon and herring), reduced the risk of breast cancer development in premenopausal women by as much as 30%. The study found that calcium and Vitamin D, when combined, inhibit the production of insulinlike growth factor in the body, which is a hormone that stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells. Since the sun is a major source for Vitamin D, and given health risks associated with too much UVB exposure, doctors recommend only about ten minutes of sun exposure per day along with diet and supplementation to reach the recommended daily allowance of 1,000 IU per day.
Food Vs. Supplementation
Calcium is commonly found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as in green vegetables, including boiled spinach and raw soybeans. Since research into the effects of calcium on cancer are still in its infancy, doctors recommend that you should obtain your daily allowance preferably through dietary sources instead of supplements. This is mainly because there may be other aspects to these foods other than calcium that may be beneficial (that wouldn’t be available in the supplement).
The study of calcium and its effects on the body, especially in relation to the development of certain types of cancer, is still in its infancy. However, in recent years it has become apparent, especially for women, that a modest amount of this mineral (1,200 mg for adults over 50 and 1,000 mg for those 19 to 49) should be routinely included when planning daily meals and dietary routines. With all of the benefits that this wonder-mineral bestows upon your body—even in carrying out its most routine functions—it seems that the depths of its health benefits are still out there waiting to be discovered.