Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Calcium May Help Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Best Results From Combining Calcium-Rich Foods and Supplements
WebMD Health News

Jan. 28, 2005 - Calcium, whether taken as a supplement or in your diet, can help prevent colon cancer.

In a study involving more than 45,000 American women followed for about 8.5 years, researchers show that calcium can cut women's risk of colorectal cancer. The best results came from combining a calcium-rich diet with supplements.

The results appear in the January issue of Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The study was conducted by experts including the University of Minnesota's Andrew Flood, PhD.

At the start of the study, the women who were free of colorectal cancer were about 62 years old. They filled out a 62-item food survey, describing their diets for the previous year. The women also reported calcium intake from multivitamins and cancer-specific supplements.

During the study, 482 women developed colon or rectal cancer.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in the U.S. Nearly 105,000 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer this year in America, predicts the American Cancer Society.

Routine screening is the best way to find colorectal cancer early so treatment can result in cure of the disease.

Some studied have suggested that vitamins might lower the risk of getting colorectal cancer, while others suggest that getting calcium in your diet helps reduce your risk of the disease.

The researchers didn't only want to see if calcium affected colon cancer. They also were curious about whether the source of calcium made a difference. Were calcium-rich foods or supplements more helpful?

To find out, the women were grouped by their calcium intake from food and supplements.

Calcium's Effects

Calcium intake slashed colorectal cancer risk, whether the women got their calcium from foods or pills.

Women who ate the most calcium-rich foods were 26% less likely to have colorectal cancer, compared to women whose diets contained the least amount of calcium.

The best results were seen in women who got the most calcium from food and also took the highest level of supplements. Their colorectal cancer risk was 46% lower than those who skimped on calcium from either source.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D