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Study says calcium may cut colon cancer risk

Adding more calcium to your diet may reduce the risk of colon cancer  
September 22, 1998
Web posted at: 6:56 p.m. EDT (2256 GMT)

From CNN Food & Health Correspondent Linda Ciampa

ATLANTA (CNN) -- The milk you pour on your cereal or order in your latte may do more than build strong bones. Latest research shows calcium may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

"What calcium appears to do is help to bind both fatty acid and bile acid within the colon to prevent them from interacting with the colon lining and therefore reducing the irritant effect of these substances upon the colon," said lead researcher Dr. Peter Holt of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

His study, paid for by the National Dairy Council, followed 70 patients at risk for colon cancer for a year. Half made no change in their diets, while the other half increased calcium from low-fat dairy foods to about 1500 milligrams a day.

The research, published in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association, shows the group that got the additional calcium was less at risk for developing colon cancer.

Five glasses of milk, five yogurts or almost half a pound of cheese would deliver 1500 milligrams of calcium, but most Americans don't get even half this amount on a given day. Dark green vegetables, grains and beans also provide calcium.

But some experts are skeptical of increasing calcium by so much. An accompanying article in the same journal questions whether the study accurately measures colon cancer risk.

The journal's editorial also points out other research has linked too much calcium to prostate cancer.

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