Oral calcium inhibits rectal epithelial proliferation in familial adenomatous polyposis

Br J Surg. 1993 Apr;80(4):499-501. doi: 10.1002/bjs.1800800432.


Calcium reduces colorectal cell turnover and might therefore protect against neoplasia. The inhibitory effects of dietary calcium were tested in a double-blind controlled trial in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis who had undergone previous abdominal colectomy and ileorectal anastomosis. Patients received supplemental calcium carbonate (1500 mg/day) or placebo tablets for 6 months; sigmoidoscopy was performed before and after treatment. Rectal biopsies were maintained in short-term organ culture, and crypt cell production rate (CCPR) was measured stathmokinetically. A total of 25 patients completed the trial; polyp counts were obtained before and after treatment in all and CCPR values in 16. Calcium treatment reduced the mean (s.e.m.) CCPR from 4.72 (0.48) to 2.42 (0.48) cells per crypt per h (P < 0.05), while values for placebo were unchanged (5.46 (1.21) versus 5.08 (1.17) cells per crypt per h). Calcium had no demonstrable effect on the number, size or distribution of rectal polyps. The ability of oral calcium supplementation to suppress rectal epithelial proliferation supports its potential to prevent development of colorectal carcinoma in high-risk individuals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / drug therapy*
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / pathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rectum / drug effects
  • Rectum / pathology*


  • Calcium, Dietary