Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our bodies –- but too much of it can be a bad thing, especially for men.
U.S. researchers found men with elevated levels of calcium in their blood may have a much higher risk of getting fatal prostate cancer, Reuters reports.
For the study, researchers tracked more than 2,800 men who gave blood samples that showed calcium levels.
What they found was that men in the top third of blood calcium levels had almost 3 times the risk of developing fatal prostate cancer later in life compared to those in the bottom third, according to the report.
Researchers said they are encouraged by the findings because they indicate that a simple blood test may identify men at high risk for the most dangerous prostate tumors. They also pointed out that there are already drugs available to cut calcium levels in the bloodstream.
"If serum calcium really does increase your risk for fatal prostate cancer, that's wonderfully exciting because serum calcium levels can be changed," Gary Schwartz of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who helped lead the study, told Reuters.
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men in this country, according to the National Cancer Institute. One out of every 3 men diagnosed with cancer each year is diagnosed with prostate cancer. The NCI estimates there will be more than 186,000 new cases of prostate cancer this year with 28,000 resulting in death.