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6 ways calcium fights aging

Natural colon cancer fighter. Colon cancer kills over 50,000 Americans every year. The malignancy often runs in families, yet only a small fraction of cases can be blamed on heredity alone. So what triggers the cancer ? Your diet is a likely culprit. Everything from fat to fiber may play a role, but scientists are zeroing in on the possibility that calcium may be able to halt the development of colon cancer.


A recent study conducted at Loma Linda University concluded that taking in 1,200 mg a day of the mineral could reduce your risk of colon cancer. That's because calcium appears to slow down the rate of cell division in the colon and cells that multiply too quickly and eventually divide out of control add up to cancer.


Beats breast cancer. Adding a glass or two of milk to your diet every day could lower your risk of breast cancer. At least that's the conclusion of Finnish researchers at the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki.


The scientists were taken by surprise when they stumbled across that fact after tracking the dietary habits of nearly 5,000 women and then following up 25 years later to see which women developed cancer.


The scientists combed their records to see if they could find specific risk factors or behaviors that might provide clues about why 88 of the women developed cancer and others didn't. they looked at all sorts of things from numbers of childbirths and smoking to intake of protein, fat, and vitamins.


The only thing that stood out was milk. The researchers concluded that drinking milk regularly had a significant protective effect against breast cancer.


They theorized that the high calcium level of milk could possible prevent malignancies by binding to fatty acids and bile acids. But, the scientist added, they believe there is some other still not understood component in milk that may contribute to its anti-breast cancer properties.


Weapon against high blood pressure. "Epidemiology" may be a mouthful to say, but it describes a very practical branch of science the study of how our lives and daily habits, from personal hygiene to what foods we eat, determine who gets what ailment. In over 20 studies that track the foods people eat, epidemiologists have linked getting too little calcium with having high blood pressure.


In more than 80 studies done on humans and animals, scientists have given various amounts of calcium to their "guinea pigs" to see what would happen to blood pressure levels. Most of the time, the scientists report, blood pressure drops when calcium in the diet goes up.


Researchers are unsure how this blood pressure/calcium link operates. One clue is that folks who are sensitive to the blood-pressure-raising properties of salt especially African-Americans and the elderly also tend to have low levels of calcium. And scientists have discovered that these same salt-sensitive people have the best blood-pressure-lowering response to calcium supplements. Researchers think they may have an explanation: Taking in calcium helps flush out excess sodium from the body, that, in turn, could lower blood pressure in people sensitive to salt.


If you have high blood pressure, does this mean you can trade in your medication for calcium supplements ?


No. In fact, recent studies have shown that, on average, calcium lowers the top (systolic) blood pressure reading only slightly and doesn't have much effect at all on the more important diastolic pressure (the bottom number that records the pressure in your veins and arteries between heartbeats).


Still, making sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet makes sense if you have high blood pressure scientists agree that the mineral plays a complex role in maintaining healthy readings.


So while calcium isn't a "magic bullet' for high blood pressure, it is one more weapon in your arsenal against this silent killer.


It could be especially smart to add calcium to your diet by drinking milk if you have high blood pressure.


High blood pressure can lead to stroke. But scientists who studied 3,150 men between the ages of 55 and 68 for 22 years found that as milk intake went up, stroke rates plummeted. In fact,, men who shied away from milk had twice the number of strokes as men who drank at least 15 ounces of calcium-packed milk every day.


Alzheimer's disease connection. If you've ever seen someone going through the mental deterioration of Alzheimer's, you know it's a horrible death sentence and a tragedy for everyone who watches a loved one's mind and abilities slip away.


Alzheimer's is primarily a disease associated with aging. And the ability to absorb adequate amounts of calcium declines as you age. Could there be a connection ? So far, the answer is "maybe".


Calcium serves as a kind of messenger within many cells, including nerve cells in the brain. In Alzheimer's disease, scientists have learned, calcium inside those brain cells is altered. So, while the medical jury is still out on just what role, if any, a lack of calcium may play in Alzheimer's, it does appear possible that a deficiency of the mineral could damage the brain.


Fends off food poisoning. For all those times you are unlucky enough to get hold of some tainted food, Dutch researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Dairy Research think they may have found a way to give you an extra edge in fighting the salmonella bacteria that causes food poisoning.


The secret ? Calcium-rich dairy products. Experiments in animals have shown that milk and yogurt may dramatically lessen the severity of food-borne stomach infections.


The scientists theorize that calcium in milk products stimulates the production of stomach acid. those digestive juices then destroy many of the salmonella germs that end up in your stomach if you eat spoiled food.


Low-calcium milk doesn't have the same effect as regular calcium-rich milk. And yogurt, the scientists found, packs a one-two punch against stomach infections. that may be because the fermented milk in yogurt takes twice as long to empty from your stomach as regular milk so salmonella germs ingested at about the same time you eat yogurt have an extra long exposure to bacteria-zapping acids.


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