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calcium-rich.jpg A regular intake of calcium could lead to a decrease in the risk for cancer, especially colorectal cancer, for both men and women, a new study shows.

The study which was published in the journal “Archives of Internal Medicine” revealed that aside from being an essential element in bone growth, calcium also helps in reducing cancer risk. The authors of the study wrote, "In both men and women, dairy food and calcium intakes were inversely associated with cancers of the digestive system."

Yikyung Park together with his team studied data obtained from 293,907 men and 198,903 women, aged 50 to 71 years old at the time they participated in the “National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study,” which was held between 1995 and 1996.

The participants answered a questionnaire which identified their food intake, including how much dairy products and calcium supplements they take in every day. They were followed-up for the next seven years after the study where researchers identified 36,965 and 16,605 cancer cases for men and women, respectively.

This data showed that men who had the highest calcium intake at approximately 1,500 mg per day had a 16 percent decrease in the risk of developing digestive cancer compared to men who had the lowest calcium intake at 500 mg per day.

For women, the risk of developing colon cancer for those who had the highest calcium intake at approximately 1,900 decreased by 23 percent compared to those who had the lowest calcium consumption at only 500 mg of calcium per day.

There was also a reduction in the over-all cancer risk for women who took in as much as 1,300 mg of calcium a day but none for men.

The researchers said: "In conclusion, our findings suggest that calcium intake consistent with current recommendations is associated with a lower risk of total cancer in women and cancers of the digestive system, especially colorectal cancer, in both men and women.”

Foods rich in calcium include dairy products such as milk and cheese, and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

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