Higher dietary calcium consumption is associated with lower colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. However, little data are available on the association between circulating calcium concentrations and CRC risk.
To explore the association between circulating calcium concentrations and CRC risk using data from 2 large European prospective cohort studies.
Conditional logistic regression models were used to calculate multivariable-adjusted ORs and 95% CIs in case-control studies nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC; n-cases = 947, n-controls = 947) and the UK Biobank (UK-BB; n-cases = 2759, n-controls = 12,021) cohorts.
In EPIC, nonalbumin-adjusted total serum calcium (a proxy of free calcium) was not associated with CRC (OR: 0.94; 95% CI: 0.85, 1.03; modeled as continuous variable, per 1 mg/dL increase), colon cancer (OR: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.82, 1.05) or rectal cancer (OR: 1.01; 95% CI: 0.84, 1.20) risk in the multivariable adjusted model. In the UK-BB, serum ionized calcium (free calcium, most active form) was inversely associated with the risk of CRC (OR: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.76, 0.95; per 1 mg/dL) and colon cancer (OR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.68, 0.90), but not rectal cancer (OR: 1.02; 95% CI: 0.83, 1.24) in multivariable adjusted models. Meta-analysis of EPIC and UK-BB CRC risk estimates showed an inverse risk association for CRC in the multivariable adjusted model (OR: 0.90; 95%CI: 0.84, 0.97). In analyses by quintiles, in both cohorts, higher levels of serum calcium were associated with reduced CRC risk (EPIC: ORQ5vs.Q1: 0.69; 95% CI: 0.47, 1.00; P-trend = 0.03; UK-BB: ORQ5vs.Q1: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.72, 0.94; P-trend < 0.01). Analyses by anatomical subsite showed an inverse cancer risk association in the colon (EPIC: ORQ5vs.Q1: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.39, 1.02; P-trend = 0.05; UK-BB: ORQ5vs.Q1: 0.75; 95% CI: 0.64, 0.88; P-trend < 0.01) but not the rectum.
In UK-BB, higher serum ionized calcium levels were inversely associated with CRC, but the risk was restricted to the colon. Total serum calcium showed a null association in EPIC. Additional prospective studies in other populations are needed to better investigate these associations.