International Health News

High calcium intake linked to prostate cancer

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Several studies have found a link between a high consumption of milk and cheese and the risk of prostate cancer. Now researchers at the Harvard Medical School report that men with a high calcium intake have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Their study began in 1986 and included over 47,000 male health practitioners. The participants completed food frequency questionnaires in 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994. Between 1986 and 1994 a total of 1792 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed among the men with 423 of the cases being of an advanced nature. After adjusting for other factors affecting prostate cancer risk the researchers concluded that men with a calcium intake of 2000 mg/day or more have a 2.97 times higher risk of developing advanced prostate cancer and a 4.57 times higher risk of developing metastatic prostate cancer than do men with an intake of 500 mg/day or less. Both calcium from food and calcium from supplements increased the risk. Milk consumption increased the risk of prostate cancer significantly with men drinking more than two glasses per day having a 60 per cent higher risk of advanced prostate cancer and an 80 per cent higher risk of metastatic prostate cancer than did men who did not consume milk.

The researchers also found that fructose protects against the development of prostate cancer. Men who consumed more than 70 grams/day had half the risk of developing advanced prostate cancer than did men who consumed only 40 grams/day or less. The main sources of fructose in the study were fruits, carbonated beverages, and sweet bakery products. A high fruit intake as such was also found to be protective with men consuming five servings a day having a 37 per cent lower risk of advanced prostate cancer than men who only consumed one serving a day or less. The researchers speculate that calcium interferes with the formation of 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, the biologically active form of vitamin-D which has been found to suppress the development of prostate tumors. Somewhat surprisingly, they did not find any relationship between prostate cancer risk and vitamin-D intake from foods or supplements between the range of less than 150 IU/day to more than 800 IU/day. They conclude that increased fruit consumption and avoidance of a high calcium intake by middle-aged and older men may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Giovannucci, Edward, et al. Calcium and fructose intake in relation to risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Research, Vol. 58, February 1, 1998, pp. 442-47

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