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Study Links High Blood Calcium to Prostate Cancer Death

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, September 03, 2008 11:52 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Prostate Cancer, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Men's Health, Cancer, Protecting Your Family, Calcium


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / Prostate Cancer Awareness Ribbon / author: joebelanger

Too much of any one thing is never good, including calcium.

Early research by Wake Forest University found men who have high blood calcium levels may have an increased risk of developing fatal prostate cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 186,000 new cases of prostate cancer will diagnosed this year and 28,660 will die from the disease.

The study results suggest simple blood tests may help to identify men at an elevated risk for fatal prostate cancer.

Researchers used data collected from a government survey to assess the risk of prostate cancer among men with high, but in normal range, blood serum calcium readings.

For the study, researchers examined blood samples taken from more than 2,800 between the ages of 24 and 77, to determine blood serum calcium levels. Participants were followed an average of ten years.

Men in the top third of calcium levels were 2.7 more times likely to develop fatal prostate cancer at some point in their life compared to men in the bottom.

The follow-up survey revealed 85 cases of prostate cancer, which included 25 prostate cancer deaths.

The possibility of serum calcium increasing a man’s risk for fatal cancer is actually “good news,” because, he added, “serum calcium levels can be modified and treated with medication,” said Gary Schwartz, an associate professor of cancer biology and of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest University Medical Center.

In the study, calcium levels helped to predict fatal prostate cancer, but no link to non-fatal prostate cancer was established.

Researchers warn, before doctors can begin prescribing drugs to men to help adjust their blood calcium levels, more studies need to be conducted.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men, in the U.S., after skin cancer, and the second leading cause of death from cancer in the country, which affects one in six American men.

The study is published in the American Association for Cancer Research's journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

In another recent study, U.S. experts advise against regular prostate cancer screenings in men 75 and older, saying the risks far outweigh the benefits for men in that age group, according to a new report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. #

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