THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Although they're standard treatment for men with prostate cancer who are taking hormonal therapy, calcium and vitamin D supplements may do more harm than good, according to a new study.
Men who undergo hormone-depletion therapy for prostate cancer are at risk for osteoporosis, but the supplements do not prevent this bone loss and may actually boost patients' odds for heart disease and aggressive prostate cancer, research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center suggests.
"Calcium and/or vitamin D supplementation to prevent loss of bone mineral density in these men seems so logical that no one had questioned whether it works," study co-author, Mridul Datta, a postdoctoral fellow at Wake Forest Baptist, explained in a hospital news release.
"It wouldn't be so bad if there simply was no obvious benefit," added the study's lead author, Gary Schwartz, a prostate cancer epidemiologist at Wake Forest Baptist. "The problem is that there is evidence that calcium supplements increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and aggressive prostate cancer, the very disease that we are trying to treat."
In the study, the researchers reviewed guidelines for calcium and vitamin D supplements as well as the results of 12 clinical trials of these supplements involving almost 2,400 men with prostate cancer. All of the men were receiving hormone-deprivation therapy. The researchers also examined the men's bone mineral density before and after treatment.
According to the study, the men undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer who took the recommended daily doses of calcium and vitamin D supplements lost bone density.
The researchers also pointed out that increased dietary calcium is associated with a greater risk for aggressive prostate cancer and heart disease.
"The wake-up call of these findings," concluded Datta, "is that the presumption of benefit from calcium and
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