That association held even adjusting for the most well-known prostate cancer risk factors -- age, weight, race and family history.
In contrast, no relationship was observed between serum calcium levels and "incident" prostate cancer -- that is, with the occurrence of new cases of prostate tumors in general.
The results were published in the September issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, published by the American Association for Cancer Research.
Dr. Durado Brooks, director of prostate & colorectal cancer at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, said, "There's been a lot of work around dietary calcium -- calcium supplements -- and prostate cancer risk, but I haven't seen much looking at serum calcium levels and prostate cancer risk, so I think it's an interesting angle to take on this issue."
Though he cautioned against "making too much about this," given the small number of affected individuals in the study, Brooks said the research should nevertheless "stimulate additional work in this area."
Serum calcium levels have almost nothing to do with dietary calcium intake, Schwartz emphasized. Serum calcium levels are tightly regulated and are characteristic of an individual in the same way as body temperature and height, he said. Thus, whether an individual eats a diet rich in cheese and milk or not, serum calcium levels generally do not vary by more than about 2 percent; instead, people are probably genetically predisposed to have one level or another, Schwartz explained.
The real "eye-opener," he said, is that, should the results be validated in other studies, serum calcium would represent one of the most significant known risk factors for prostate cancer, and t
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