Newmark's call to action involves the simple addition of calcium and vitamin D to the existing FDA-mandated enrichment mix in products such as bread and pasta. He contends the measure could save 11,000 lives and an estimated $3 billion in U.S. health care costs annually. But it requires policy changes by the FDA that would need to be reflected in federal law.
In an article appearing in the Aug. 1 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Newmark and colleagues propose these nutrients be added to the current enrichment program for cereal-grain products. "The benefits would be a significant reduction in the incidences of osteoporosis and colon cancer over time and an overall improvement in health at a modest financial cost and with minor modification of existing technology," the paper concludes.
Newmark is an adjunct professor-in-residence at the Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research (Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy) of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. His coauthors are Paul Lachance of Rutgers, an authority on nutritional supplements, and Robert Heaney, an osteoporosis expert at Creighton University (Omaha).
Calcium's crucial role in bone replacement is understood, but its effect in the colon is less well known. In the presence of high-fat diets seemingly part of the American way of life calcium helps inactivate the resulting fatty acids in the colon that produce irritation, cell damage and other effects that can lead to cancer, Newmark says. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of dietary calcium by the body.