By Ellen Gibson Bloomberg
Calcium doesn’t just build strong bones, it may fight cancer too, a new study says.
Researchers at the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico reported Sunday that women who took calcium had a 40 percent lower risk of getting breast cancer, while those getting multivitamins showed a 30 percent reduction in risk. The new findings, from a study of 744 women, were presented at the meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington.
The data contradict results of a December 2008 trial that showed no reduction in cancer risk from vitamin supplements.
The scientists attributed the calcium benefit seen in the latest study to its effect on what they called DNA repair capacity – the biological process by which cells patch up damaged DNA that otherwise may cause cancer. The report suggests women may boost their cellular defenses with dietary changes and long-term use of supplements, they said.
“The importance of this finding is that now we can monitor breast-cancer risk using DNA repair capacity,” said Manuel Bayona, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at Ponce School of Medicine and an author of the paper. “We believe that all women should be taking vitamins and supplements. Now we can tell if that regimen is really doing its work in reducing the risk.”