Taking calcium carbonate or eating calcium-rich foods may make processed meats (like ham, sausage, bacon, and hot dogs) less likely to raise the risk of colorectal cancer.
Scientists told 18 men (aged 40 to 75) not to eat meat for a week. Then, twice a day the men were given either two slices of cooked ham (1.6 oz. each) plus a placebo or two slices of ham plus a 500-milligram calcium carbonate pill.
After four days, levels of N-nitroso compounds (which cause cancer in laboratory animals) in the men’s stool were higher when they ate the ham plus the placebo than when they ate no meat. However, N-nitroso levels were no higher when the men got ham plus calcium carbonate.
What to do: To play it safe, eat processed meats rarely, if at all. It’s too early to know if taking calcium carbonate or eating calcium-rich foods can eliminate the cancer risk.
Source: Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 98: 1255, 2013.
Other relevant links:
- When to take one calcium supplement rather than another. See: Is Calcium Citrate a Better Mineral Supplement than Calcium Carbonate?
- Avoid processed red meats to cut your cancer risk. See: Cut Your Cancer Risk
- Excess calcium from supplements may increase risk of prostate cancer. See: Calcium and Prostate Cancer