Can Calcium Lower the Risk of Colorectal Cancer from Eating Cured Meats?

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.

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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.

 

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