A long-term dietary trial has revealed that supplementation with calcium and vitamin D can dramatically lower the risk of cancer in women.
The 4-year trial, conducted in Nebraska, USA, involved 1180 healthy post-menopausal women who were initially free from cancer. The women were randomised into 3 groups and given either a placebo, calcium alone, or calcium + vitamin D. The daily calcium supplementation was in the region of 1500mg (almost double the US recommended daily intake) while, for vitamin D, it was 27.5mg (1100 I.U) (almost triple the US recommended daily intake).
Through the course of the study, 50 participants developed non-skin cancers, including breast, colon and lung cancers. However, women taking the calcium + vitamin D supplement were 60% less likely to develop cancer than women taking the placebo pills. Many countries in Europe do not have a recommended daily amount for vitamin D in adults, despite the fact that vitamin D intakes can be low in some population groups and sun exposure limited. There is now debate among experts on whether new recommendations are warranted.
For more information, see
Lappe JM et al (2007). Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,Vol 85, pg 1586-1591.
EUFIC related material:
Nutrition-Vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients