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

Font Size

Calcium Levels Predict Prostate Cancer

Study Shows High-Normal Calcium Level in Blood Linked to Fatal Prostate Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 3, 2008 -- Men with high-normal levels of calcium in their blood may have an increased risk for developing fatal prostate cancer, early research suggests.

Men in the study with high-normal levels had a threefold greater risk for fatal prostate cancer later in life than those with the lowest average calcium levels (but still within the normal range).

If confirmed, the finding could help identify men at risk of dying from prostate cancer long before the disease is diagnosed, researchers say.

It could also lead to a simple strategy for reducing risk in men with high-normal serum calcium.

"If we can show that men with high-normal serum calcium really are three times as likely to develop a fatal prostate cancer, we might be able to alter this risk with existing drugs that have been proven to be very safe," study researcher Gary G. Schwartz, PhD, of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, tells WebMD.

Calcium and Prostate Cancer

There is good evidence that men whose diets include a lot of calcium or those who take calcium supplements are at increased risk for prostate cancer.

But since there is little relationship between dietary calcium and calcium in the blood, the new study does not address the question of how much calcium men should eat.

Doctors often measure serum calcium during routine blood tests.

"Many of your body's functions run on calcium, just like your laptop runs on electricity," Schwartz says. "Too little calcium in the blood can cause convulsions and too much can lead to a coma. Since your body cannot afford to oscillate between convulsions and coma, the range of serum calcium is tightly controlled."

Other laboratory studies suggest that calcium and parathyroid hormone -- which regulates calcium levels in the blood -- promote prostate cancer cells' growth, the study researchers report.

In their newly published study, Schwartz and colleague Halcyon G. Skinner, PhD, MPH, of the University of Wisconsin sought to test the laboratory association in humans.

They did this by examining data from a national health survey that examined participants between 1971 and 1975, known as NHANES I, and from a follow-up survey years later.

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
cancer fighting foods
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Prostate Enlarged
Picture Of The Prostate
Prostate Cancer Quiz
screening tests for men
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Vitamin D