Since our childhood, we have been taught that calcium is behind the strengthening of our bones. True indeed, but as we grew up, we come to know that role of calcium in our body is far diverse and important than just being a support structure to bones. Calcium helps in bone and tissue development; it makes them stronger. It also supplies staunch support to our teeth and gums. It gives muscles the strength they need to move our body. Last but not the least, our body needs calcium to carry information between the brain and other body parts through nerves. Now, science has so developed that it has proved a relationship between calcium and cancer the most dreaded disease of modern times. Many scientists started believing that calcium can prevent many types of cancer and colorectal cancer (large intestine) is one of them. 

What is Calcium? 

Relationship between Calcium and Cancer

Calcium is a principal dietary mineral regularly found in milk, yoghurt, cheddar, and boring green vegetables. It similarly is found in explicit grains, vegetables (chickpeas, beans, lentils, and peanuts), and nuts.  

Calcium is a critical piece of bones and teeth. It moreover is needed for the thickening of blood to stop depleting and for ordinary working of the nerves, muscles, and heart. 

Quantity of calcium one should intake? 

Consumption of calcium varies from age to sex in person to person. In an infant of age up to 6 months a 210 mg (about twice the weight of a business card) of calcium is recommended on daily basis. Whereas in a healthy adult from age of 18 to 50 years, 1000 mg (about the weight of a small paper clip)/day of calcium is recommended. Beyond 50 years it may increase to 1200 mg (about the weight of a small paper clip)/day. 

Calcium supplements – YES, or NO? 

It has been seen in most people that if their daily intake of calcium whether in the form of food or supplement if not exceeds 2.5 grams/day then they still are safe. The tolerable upper-level recommendation of calcium is 2.5 grams a day for all healthy people. On the other hand, people having kidney problems consuming calcium 5 grams or more a day can cause harmful side effects. Hypercalcemia (excess calcium in the blood) and kidney failure are such rare risks. Milk alkali syndrome is also caused by taking excessive calcium in the form of milk and antacids both hold a high amount of calcium. 

Evidence that calcium may reduce colorectal cancer

Various epidemiological studies have shown the relation between calcium and colorectal cancer. 

A study was done by the American Cancer Society over 1,20,000 men and women. It was concluded that people who were having the highest calcium intake had a modestly reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared to those who were having less intake of calcium or calcium supplements. 

A similar study was published by the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They deduced stronger results by seeing more than 1,35,000 men and women. They compared people having an intake of calcium more than 700 mg/day had reduced chances of having cancer of the lower colon against those who used to have an intake of 500 mg (about half the weight of a small paper clip)/day calcium. The same result was also published by a large group of Finnish people. 

Similarly, there are many more studies that have suggested a strong relationship between high calcium intake and a lower risk of having colorectal cancer. 

In a report published by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) / American Institute for Cancer Research (ACRF) in 2007, it was claimed that calcium may protect against the risk of colorectal cancer. 

Role of calcium in reducing other cancers? 

The scientist had a divide, some say it can reduce one or more types of cancers, while some say it can increase the chances of having prostate cancer. Some studies favoured the latter like the European perspective while some stand on the other side. But still, there is no constant result has declared. Debate and discussions among scientists are still going on. 

How might calcium help prevent cancer? 

All the studies have unclear responses however, they are quite sure that calcium binds to bile acids and fatty acids in the gastrointestinal tract to form calcium soaps. These soaps are in an insoluble form. This triggers cell proliferation to fix the alteration in the colon so that, the colon lining could be prevented by further damage by acids.  

Cancer may also help in differentiating cells and can cause their death by cell signalling within cells. 

Ending note  

Calcium is indeed one of the most crucial elements that our body needed but even after so many studies, calcium is not recommended in the prevention of colorectal cancer due to lack of substantive evidence. All the result produced by these studies does not give any conclusive evidence that calcium can surely prevent colorectal cancer. Hence, unless no absolute result comes one should stick to the already proven doses of calcium and calcium supplements.  

REFERENCES 

  1. https://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/29/9/3687 
  1. https://www.cancertherapyadvisor.com/home/tools/fact-sheets/calcium-and-cancer/ 
  1. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/calcium-fact-sheet#:~:text=The%20results%20of%20some%20studies,the%20risk%20of%20prostate%20cancer 
  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/calcium-beyond-the-bones 
  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322012 
  1. https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/blood-calcium/high-calcium-people-cancer