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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Milk, Calcium May Cut Colon Cancer Risk

Study Shows 12% Drop in Cancer Risk for Every 2 Glasses of Milk
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July 6, 2004 -- Milk -- or calcium supplements -- may cut a person's risk of colon cancer.

You've heard this before, but study results haven't always lined up. Now Eunyoung Cho, ScD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues have combined data from 10 studies.

It's a lot of data. It includes more than half a million people followed during a six- to 16-year period, and includes information on nearly 5,000 cases of colon cancer.

The bottom line: "Moderate milk and calcium intake reduces the risk of colorectal cancer," Cho and colleagues write in the July 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The studies looked at a variety of dairy products. While some other dairy products were linked to reduced rates of colon cancer, milk had the strongest association.

Compared with people who consumed less than 2.5 ounces of milk a day, those who drank 9 or more ounces a day had a 15% lower risk of colon cancer. Every 500 milligrams per day increase in milk -- about two 8-once glasses -- cut colon cancer risk by 12%.

Increasing calcium intake to more than 1,000 milligrams per day or more, the researchers calculate, would cut colon cancer risk by 15% for women and by 10% for men.

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