Calcium, vitamin D, dairy products, and risk of colorectal cancer in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort (United States)

Cancer Causes Control. 2003 Feb;14(1):1-12. doi: 10.1023/a:1022591007673.


Objective: Calcium, vitamin D, and dairy product intake may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. We therefore examined the association between these factors and risk of colorectal cancer in a large prospective cohort of United States men and women.

Methods: Participants in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort completed a detailed questionnaire on diet, medical history, and lifestyle in 1992-93. After excluding participants with a history of cancer or incomplete dietary information, 60,866 men and 66,883 women remained for analysis. During follow-up through 31 August 1997 we documented 421 and 262 cases of incident colorectal cancers among men and women, respectively. Multivariate-adjusted rate ratios (RR) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards models.

Results: Total calcium intake (from diet and supplements) was associated with marginally lower colorectal cancer risk in men and women (RR = 0.87, 95% CI 0.67-1.12, highest vs lowest quintiles, p trend = 0.02). The association was strongest for calcium from supplements (RR = 0.69, 95% CI 0.49-0.96 for > or = 500 mg/day vs none). Total vitamin D intake (from diet and multivitamins) was also inversely associated with risk of colorectal cancer, particularly among men (RR = 0.71, 95% CI 0.51-0.98, p trend = 0.02). Dairy product intake was not related to overall risk.

Conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis that calcium modestly reduces risk of colorectal cancer. Vitamin D was associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer only in men.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Calcium / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Dairy Products*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium