The associations of intakes of calcium and vitamin D with colorectal cancer risk were examined in the Multiethnic Cohort Study (Hawaii and Los Angeles, California).

In 1993-1996, 85,903 men and 105,108 women aged >/=45 years completed a quantitative food frequency questionnaire. A total of 2,110 incident cases of colorectal cancer (1,138 in men and 972 in women) were identified through December 31, 2001. Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate multivariate-adjusted relative risks and 95% confidence intervals.

Total calcium intake (from foods and supplements) was inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk in both men (highest quintile vs. lowest: relative risk (RR) = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.52, 0.93; p for trend = 0.006) and women (RR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.50, 0.83; p for trend = 0.003). The inverse association was also seen for total vitamin D intake in men (RR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.51, 1.00; p for trend = 0.03) but not in women. Intake of dairy products was inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk, especially among nonusers of supplemental calcium (men: RR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.59, 1.01; women: RR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.49, 0.89).

The findings support the hypothesis of protective roles for calcium, vitamin D, and dairy products in the risk of colorectal cancer.