Not only does calcium support healthy bones, especially in women, new studies find that a calcium-rich diet may also lower their risk of developing many types of cancer. A new study, conducted by the National Cancer Institute, found a direct link between calcium intake and reduced risk of colorectal and other digestive system cancers.

Study_ • This 7 year study of nearly half a million participants in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study focused on calcium from food as well as supplements. • Yikyung Park, ScD and colleagues analyzed data from over 290,000 men and 198,000 women ages 50-71. • Half the men and 57 percent of the women reported taking a multivitamin containing calcium. Fourteen percent of the men and 41 percent of the women took calcium supplements.

Results:

• WOMEN: The women with highest calcium intake were at 23 percent less risk for all digestive system cancers than those with the lowest intake, and 28 percent less prone to colorectal cancer in particular. The risk decreased in women with intake of up to 1,300 milligrams per day.

• MEN: The men decreased their risk by 16 percent for all digestive cancers and 21 percent less risk of colorectal cancer. The risk decreased in men with an intake of up to 1,530 milligrams per day.

Conclusion: • Calcium has been shown to reduce abnormal growth and induce normal turnover among cells in the gastrointestinal tract and breast. • Calcium also binds to bile and fatty acids, potentially reducing damage to the mucous membrane in the large intestine. • The Institute of Medicine calls for 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily for adults. The 2005 federal dietary guidelines recommended three cups per day of low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

Surprising Sources of Calcium:

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of

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Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

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