Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, with about 99 percent of the mineral residing is in your bones. Aside from playing a vital role in the development and maintenance of strong bones, calcium also facilitates the proper function of your heart, muscles, nerves and other body systems. Sometimes calcium deposits accumulate in soft tissue such as the breasts.
Breast Calcification and Calcium
The two types of breast calcifications are macrocalcifications and microcalcifications. Macrocalcifications are generally coarse calcium deposits that appear as large white dots or dashes on mammograms. Macrocalcifications are typically associated with women over the age of 50 and are considered harmless. Microcalcifications are tiny calcium deposists that appear as small white specks on mammograms. Although not usually the result of cancer, microcalcifications are sometimes a symptom of precancerous changes in the breasts. Breast calcifications are not typically caused by excessive calcium intake.
Causes of Breast Calcification
Cancer is one possible cause of breast calcification. However, numerous noncancerous conditions also cause breast calcifications, such as previous breast injury, breast cysts, fibroadenoma and dermal or vascular calcification. You should seek medical advice when the calcification is clustered instead of being scattered throughout the breast. Calcium deposits that vary in shape and size are also situations that call for a visit to your doctor.
Calcium-Deficient Diet and Calcium Deposits
A study presented in a 2006 issue of “Lipids in Health and Disease” determined that rabbits on diets that had only 0.5 percent of the required daily calcium intake were at greater risk of developing atherosclerosis. The study used rabbit test subjects that were divided into two groups. One group ate a calcium-deficient diet, while another ate a diet that had 3 percent calcium. The group of rabbits on the calcium-supplemented diet were about 62 percent less likely to develop calcifications. This suggests that calcium supplements may actually prevent calcification rather than cause it. Studies involving human test subjects are necessary to ascertain whether this phenomenon occurs in humans.
Dosage and Side Effects
The recommended dose for calcium varies depending on age. Infants in their first 6 months need about 210 mg per day. Infants between 7 and 12 months require 270 mg per day. Adolescents between the ages of 9 and 18 need about 1,300 mg per day. This dose drops to about 1,000 mg per day between the ages of 19 to 50. People over 50 need about 1,200 mg per day. The recommended dose to prevent colon cancer is 1,800 mg per day. The tolerable upper intake level of calcium is about 2,500 mg per day. Calcium deposits have been associated with stomach upset, nausea and appetite loss.
- "Lipids in Health and Disease"; Effects of Dietary Calcium on Atherosclerosis, Aortic Calcification, and Icterus in Rabbits Fed a Supplemental Cholesterol Diet; Howard HT Hsu, et al.; June 2006
- Macmillan Cancer Support; Breast Calcifications; December 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Calcium; Steven D. Ehrlich; March 2009