People who consume ample amounts of calcium have a low risk for developing colon cancer, according to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Calcium intakes of 88,509 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 47,740 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study were assessed every four years and compared to colon cancer incidence. During the following years, 3,078 cases of colon cancer were documented. People who consumed daily 1,400 milligrams or more of calcium were 22% less likely to develop colon cancer compared to those people who consumed less than 600 milligrams of calcium a day. The protective effects appeared to be strongest for those people who had been consuming ample calcium for at least 10 to 16 years prior to diagnosis.
Cancer is gaining on heart disease for first place in the race for death statistics, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Already, cancer had surpassed heart disease as the leading cause of death for 22 states in 2014. In addition, cancer is now the leading cause of death for a number of minority groups, including Hispanics, Asians, and Pacific Islanders. Annual heart disease deaths have decreased nationwide from a peak of just over 771,000 in 1985 to nearly 597,000 in 2011. In the meantime, cancer deaths have nearly tripled from just under 211,000 in 1950 to almost 577,000 in 2011.
Excess body fat is a major contributor to cancer risk, including cancers of the gallbladder, stomach, liver, pancreas, ovary, and thyroid, according to a review of the research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization.
In Perspective: These statistics do not mean that heart disease is on the decline, but rather that it is being managed more effectively in people who have the disease. In addition, the term “cancer” is an umbrella term for up to 100 different types of cancer, all of which are lumped together in this statistic. What is likely to be the deciding factor is that more and more people are overweight and those that already are overweight are getting fatter, increasing the risk for a host of diseases including cancers.
Zhang X, Keum N, Wu K, et al: Calcium intake and colorectal cancer risk. International Journal of Cancer 2016; July 28th.
Lauby-Secretan B, Scoccianti C, Loomis D, et al: Body fatness and cancer: Viewpoint of the IARD Working Group. New England Journal of Medicine 2016;375:794-798.