How can my calcium intake affect my risk of cancer?

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
Many observational studies show that people whose diets are rich in calcium and dairy products tend to have a lower risk of colon cancer. Less certain are findings that suggest some protective effect for lung and breast cancer. However, some studies have linked calcium and dairy intake to ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. Data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study found that men who got more than 2,000 mg of calcium a day were almost three times as likely to develop advanced prostate cancer as men who got less than 500 mg a day. The Nurses' Health Study investigators noted that milk, which is a major source of calcium, might contain another substance that raises ovarian cancer risk. The risk, if it is real, is probably not caused by calcium itself -- since calcium supplements seem safe for women -- but by the high levels of natural hormones found in milk.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.