Calcium supplements can increase the risk of intestinal polyps
Colon cancer usually arises from colon polyps, i.e. benign growths. A study has now shown that calcium supplements can apparently increase the risk of such polyps.
Early detection can save lives
Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in Germany. Around 26,000 people die of it every year in Germany. The chances of recovery depend heavily on how early the cancer and its precursors are discovered. Colon polyps are considered a precancer. US researchers have now found that calcium supplements can increase the risk of such polyps.
Colon cancer can result from colon polyps
Colonoscopy (colonoscopy) offers the possibility of early detection of colon cancer and its preliminary stages.
“Colon cancer usually arises from colon polyps, i.e. benign growths. Preventive colonoscopy makes it possible to identify and remove such polyps so that they do not develop into a malignant tumor, ”said internist and gastroenterologist Dr. med. Anette Othmer in a conversation with "Heilpraxisnet".
According to health experts, intestinal polyps can develop in certain diseases, but also without an identifiable cause.
However, a recent study by researchers at the University of North Carolina (USA) has now shown that "Calcium supplements taken with or without vitamin D can increase the risk of small polyps in the intestine," says a message the "University of North Carolina School of Medicine".
The study results were recently published in the specialist magazine “Gut”.
Jagged intestinal polyps are more dangerous
Polyps come in different shapes and sizes, with jagged polyps more likely to become cancer than traditional polyps. In previous studies, there was evidence that calcium and vitamin D can protect against jagged polyps, but the results were inconsistent.
Physicians led by Seth D. Crockett from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now wanted to find out whether the daily intake of calcium and vitamin D reduces the risk of jagged polyps.
They analyzed the results of a large US study with over 2,000 patients aged between 45 and 75 years in whom at least one jagged polyp had been discovered and removed - and who had a follow-up test (colonoscopy) within three to five years.
Individuals in whose families colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or other serious health conditions had already occurred were excluded from the study.
The remaining subjects were randomly divided into groups that either took calcium supplements, vitamin D supplements, both, or none each until their colonoscopy in three to five years.
The effect only became apparent after years
During the treatment phase, the scientists found no effects of calcium or vitamin D on jagged polyps.
However, in the later observation period (six to ten years after the start of treatment), the researchers found an increased risk of jagged polyps in patients who only took calcium and those who took a combination of calcium and vitamin D.
According to the information, women and smokers were at higher risk when taking calcium supplements. However, no association was found between vitamin D alone and the risk of jagged polyps.
The results indicate association only with calcium supplements, not calcium from food.
Certain people are better off avoiding supplements
"The results of this study were somewhat unexpected," said Crockett. But: "It is important to put these results in the right perspective and not to raise the alarm," says the study author.
"Calcium and vitamin D supplementation is taken by many people and has some positive effects on bone health," said the scientist.
"Many people take low doses of calcium from multivitamin tablets (lower doses than those used in our study) that are unlikely to be harmful," said Crockett.
The now discovered possible connection between the intake of calcium supplements and the development of intestinal polyps does not necessarily negate the other advantages of this nutritional supplement.
The study authors recommend further studies to confirm their results. In the meantime, they advise patients who have had jagged polyps, especially women and smokers, to avoid calcium supplements. (ad)