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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999;889:138-45.

Calcium supplements and colorectal adenomas. Polyp Prevention Study Group.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756, USA.


Experimental and observational findings suggest that calcium intake may protect against colorectal neoplasia. To investigate this hypothesis, we conducted a randomized, double-blind trial of colorectal adenoma recurrence. Nine hundred thirty patients with a recent history of colorectal adenomas were randomly given calcium carbonate (3 gm daily; 1200 mg elemental calcium) or placebo, with follow-up colonoscopies one and four years after the qualifying examination. The main analysis focused on new adenomas found after the first follow-up endoscopy, up to (and including) the second follow-up examination. Risk ratios of at least one recurrent adenoma and ratios of the average numbers of adenomas were calculated as measures of calcium effect. There was a lower risk of recurrent adenomas in subjects assigned calcium. Eight hundred thirty-two patients had two follow-up examinations and were included in the main analysis; the adjusted risk ratio of one or more adenomas was 0.81 (95% CI 0.67 to 0.99); the adjusted ratio of the average numbers of adenomas was 0.76 (95% CI 0.60 to 0.96). Among subjects who had at least one follow-up colonoscopy, the adjusted risk ratio of one or more recurrent adenomas was 0.85 (95% CI 0.74 to 0.98). The effect of calcium seemed independent of initial dietary fat and calcium intake. No toxicity was associated with supplementation. These findings indicate that calcium supplementation has a modest protective effect against colorectal adenomas, precursors of most colorectal cancers.

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