Calcium Cuts Recurrence of Colon Adenomas for Years

Study shows benefit lasts up to five years after cessation

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Calcium may continue to protect high-risk individuals from adenomas for up to five years after they stop taking the supplements, according to a follow-up study reported in the Jan. 17 Journal of National Cancer Institute.

Maria V. Grau, M.D., of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues tracked 822 of an original 930 participants from a trial in which patients with a history of colorectal adenoma took 1,200 milligrams of calcium or a placebo daily for four years. Calcium use was associated with a 17 percent lower relative risk for adenoma recurrence. Patients were followed for an average of seven years after the trial.

Five years after participants stopped taking the supplements, 31.5 percent of those who had taken the calcium experienced an adenoma recurrence, compared with 43.2 percent of those individuals randomized to placebo. There was, however, no difference between the groups after five years.

In an accompanying editorial, Maria Elena Martinez, Ph.D., and Elizabeth T. Jacobs, Ph.D., of the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson, write that "the major method of reducing risk of colorectal cancer mortality is through the removal of polyps. Given that a large proportion of the age-eligible population does not undergo screening for colorectal cancer, efforts must continue to increase rates of screening. This, along with increasing physical activity levels, is likely to result in lower morbidity and mortality from this malignancy."

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