In surprising news this week from the National Cancer Institute, researchers discovered that taking regular supplements of vitamin D and calcium do not decrease the risk of colon cancer.
The findings of the study were reported by several news outlets, including Tech Times. The website noted that loading up on calcium and vitamin D not only failed to reduce the risk of colon cancer, but also failed to remove pre-cancerous colorectal adenomas (polyps).
A team of researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center published the results of the study in a the Oct. 15 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
To get their results, the research team observed 2,259 people between the ages of 45 and 75. The subjects of the study took daily doses of vitamin D or calcium. Each patient had polyps, and each patient was given a follow-up colonoscopy three to five years after the study concluded.
The follow-up colonoscopies showed “no significant difference in the occurrence of new polyps.”
Additional polyps showed in 43 percent of patients during second screening. There was also no significant difference in the occurrence of new polyps between those who supplemented and the control-group patients.
One of the researchers on the team, Dr. John Baron of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told CBS News that the results were a “big surprise.”
That was a big surprise. We thought we understood calcium because the data was really quite, quite strong.
The findings on the effectiveness of calcium were equally “disappointing.”
The news wasn’t completely bad, though. Experts say that doses higher than the ones used in the study might be able to fight cancer, but the results are unclear.
Aspirin has also been a popular drug for preventing polyps, but the side effects can be severe and medical advice is recommended when deciding whether or not to use the drug.