Calcium from diet and supplements is associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer in a prospective cohort of women

Andrew Flood, Ulrike Peters, Nilanjan Chatterjee, James V. Lacey, Catherine Schairer, Arthur Schatzkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


We investigated the association between calcium intake and colorectal cancer in a prospective cohort of 45,354 women without a history of colorectal cancer who successfully completed a 62-item National Cancer Institute/Block food-frequency questionnaire. Women were followed for an average of 8.5 years, during which time 482 subjects developed colorectal cancer. We used Cox proportional hazards models, with age as the underlying time metric, to estimate risk of colorectal cancer. Cut points between quintiles of energy-adjusted dietary calcium were 412, 529, 656, and 831 mg/day. We created categories for calcium from supplements as follows: 0 mg/day (n = 25,441), 0 to 400 mg/ day (n = 9,452), 401 to 800 mg/day (n = 4,176), and >800 mg/ day (n =6,285). Risk ratios and confidence intervals (95% CI) for increasing quintiles of dietary calcium relative to the lowest quintile were 0.79 (0.60-1.04), 0.77 (0.59-1.02), 0.78 (0.60-1.03), and 0.74 (0.56-0.98), Ptrend = 0.05. For increasing categories of calcium from supplements, the risk ratios (and 95% CI) relative to no supplement use were 1.08 (0.87-1.34), 0.96 (0.70-1.32), and 0.76 (0.56-1.02), Ptrend = 0.09. Simultaneously high consumption of calcium from diet and calcium from supplements resulted in even further risk reduction, RR = 0.54 (95% CI, 0.37-0.79) compared with low consumption of both sources of calcium. These data indicate that a difference of < 400 to > 800 mg of calcium per day was associated with an approximately 25% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer, and this reduction in risk occurred regardless of the source of the calcium (i.e., diet or supplements).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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