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Can Calcium Reduce Your Cancer Risk?

February 23, 2009, 5:10 PM by Kelli Grant

Can Calcium Reduce Your Cancer Risk?
A new study found that women who get enough calcium appear to have a lower overall risk of cancer.  And calcium also helps both men and women lower their risk of cancers of the digestive system. 

Patty Tobin never misses her cancer screenings. 

"Just to make sure there isn't any cause for concern,” Tobin said. 

But it’s the simple things she’s doing outside of the doctor’s officer that may offer some additional protection. 

A new study shows that getting the recommended amount of calcium reduces a woman’s overall cancer risk; it also significantly protects both men and women from cancers of the digestive system. 

"Such as esophageal cancer or stomach cancer or colorectal cancer and one of the theories is that's where the calcium is absorbed," Dr. Susan Boolbol of Beth Israel Medical Center said. 

The risk drops by as much as 23 percent for women and 16 percent for men.
 
Besides the calcium, dairy products are full of other cancer fighting nutrients like vitamin D and Linoleic Acid. 

"Whether you had calcium through your diet, milk or dairy products, or whether you took a calcium supplement, that the rate of cancer was decreased either way," Dr. Boolbol said. 

Which means Tobin will be making sure she takes hers. 

"Keep the calcium right on the kitchen shelf and have it right in front of me,” Tobin said. 

Doctors say more research is needed to determine if calcium can help prevent other cancers such as breast cancer or colon cancer. But for now, they say mom was right: drink your milk. 

Doctors say at least 1200 milligrams a day or about 3 cups of low fat or fat-free dairy products like milk or yogurt does the trick.

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