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High intake of calcium, dairy products boosts prostate cancer risk

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By David Liu, Ph.D.

Saturday Sept 17, 2011 (foodconsumer.org) -- High intake of calcium from both food and dietary supplements may boost risk of advanced or fatal prostate cancer, according to a review published this year in the Nestle Nutrition Workshop Series: Pediatric Program.

The review was conducted by C.L. Rock of Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at University of California in San Diego, California.

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centers suggest that genetics determines the magnitude of the increase in the risk by calcium intake and those who are genetically capable of absorbing the mineral with ease are particularly vulnerable.

The genotype determined by a gene which is known to be involved in the regulation of calcium metabolism has an impact on the risk of prostate cancer, according to authors Gary. Schwarts Ph.D. at WFB  Medical Center and colleagues from the University of Southern California and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.

In the study of 783 black men of whom 533 were diagnosed with prostate cancer, the researchers found men who reported the highest intake of calcium were twice more likely to suffer both localized and advanced or metastatic prostate Cancer, compared with those who reported the lowest intake.

Further, they found men with a genotype linked to poor calcium absorption were 59 percent less likely to be diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer than those with a genotype linked to high calcium absorption.

Among men with their calcium intake below the median, those were genetically poor at absorbing calcium were at a 50 percent reduced risk for advanced prostate cancer, compared with those who had a gene that make them better calcium absorbers.
The researchers said black men are 36 percent more likely than white men to develop prostate cancer - the disease diagnosed in about 200,000 men in the United States.

The study was scheduled to appear in  the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Calcium is high in dairy products and some vegetables including pinto beans, red beans, white beans, bok choy, kale, broccoli and spinach.  Eating calcium rich vegetables is rarely associated with increased risk of cancer while high intake of dairy products has been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer.

High calcium in dairy products may not be the only concern.

In May, 2011, T.J Key of Oxford University reported in Proceedings of Nutrition Society suggesting that high intake of protein from dairy products may produce high serum levels of insulin-like growth factors or IGF-1, which is linked with risk for both prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.org

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