Recently, various published medical studies have suggested that calcium and vitamin D have a protective effect against the development of colon cancer.
However, up to this point, there has been no clear understanding about the relationship of these two important nutrients. In a study published last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers from Dartmouth Medical School studied the effects of calcium use and vitamin D levels on the development of polyp formation in over 800 individuals who had previously developed colonic polyps.
The researchers found that when the individuals had low levels of vitamin D in their blood, supplemental (extra) calcium offered no protection against the formation of polyps. However, as higher blood levels of vitamin D were noted, supplemental calcium was found to reduce the risk of polyp recurrence by 29%.
Meanwhile, the researchers found that individuals with higher levels of vitamin D also required calcium in order to provide these healthy benefits. And while it’s unclear how these two nutrients interact, the authors state that “nevertheless, the data clearly suggest the potential for important (preventive) effect from calcium and vitamin D.”
In another study published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), further evidence of the protective effects of Vitamin D was presented. The study included more than 3,000 veterans at 13 VA medical centers around the country.
The study included veterans between the ages of 50 and 75, who were symptom-free when they underwent colonoscopies between 1994 and 1997. A total of 329 were found to have advance polyps or tumors, while the rest had none. Specifically, men who ate higher amounts of fiber – more than about 4 grams a day – and more than 645 international units (I.U.) a day of vitamin D were significantly less likely to develop colon polyps.
“The finding that may surprise the scientific community is the vitamin D data,” said Dr. David Lieberman, lead investigator for the study.
“Higher levels of vitamin D intake were associated with a lower risk of serious colon polyps. There have been some studies suggesting this, but our data are compelling.” Lieberman is chief of gastroenterology at the Portland, Oregon, VA Medical Center and the Oregon Health and Science University.
I look at this information as an added bonus for those individuals taking calcium and vitamin D. Most people take these nutrients for prevention of osteoporosis, a condition that afflicts tens of millions of people in this country (Osteoporosis involves a decrease in bone mass and density, which can lead to fractures). There has been very clear data indicating that these two nutrients do have a protective effect against bone loss.
A landmark 1997 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients treated with 500 mg of calcium citrate malate and 700 units of vitamin D daily had reduced fracture rates of over 50%, compared to a placebo group. Additionally, during this period, those patients taking placebos had an overall loss of bone density, while those patients taking supplemental calcium and vitamin D actually improved bone density. This therapy is now considered a mainstream treatment by almost all medical doctors for the prevention of osteoporosis.
Look for capsules that contain 700 units of vitamin D, along with 500 mg of elemental calcium citrate malate. In addition, the capsules should have the added benefits of magnesium citrate, vitamin K1, soy isoflavones, folic acid, and malic acid. Supplements like this are generally very economical and to reduce the chance of fractures, as well as to possibly reduce the risk of colon cancer, it’s likely well worth it.
If you are getting enough from your diet and therefore prefer just get a supplement with Vitamin D (700 IU), calcium citrate malate (over 2,000 mg of calcium is included to provide 500 mg of elemental calcium), and magnesium (250 mg).
Fiber supplements likewise are recommended. Supplements that contain the best two fiber sources, apple pectin and oat bran, as well as FOS (which promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the stomach), and Probiotics. Studies indicate people who consume foods high in Probiotics have likelihood of colon cancer.
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