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Calcium Supplements Could Raise Heart Risks in Postmenopausal Women
Date:1/15/2008

Study found those taking tablets had 47% higher risk of cardiovascular trouble

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The calcium tablets taken by millions of postmenopausal women to reduce their risk of osteoporosis may be contributing to an increase in heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

The findings might mean doctors shouldn't prescribe the supplement so freely.

"There are data from other recent studies showing an upward trend in heart attacks with calcium use, so we think this is likely to be a real finding," said study senior author Dr. Ian Reid, of the faculty of medical and health sciences at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. "It is likely that this is primarily a problem for elderly women, because they are more likely than younger subjects to have prevalent coronary heart disease. Therefore, it seems wise to advise against calcium supplementation in those over the age of 70 years and in those known to have coronary heart disease."

"This is the most upsetting study. Osteoporosis is a major issue that we're trying to deal with as we get older, and we've been talking about calcium supplementation to prevent osteoporosis," added Dr. Susan Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at the Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "There's a huge group of women trying to stay healthy [by taking calcium], and now we're being told that, in fact, this is something that can hurt you... It's very, very frustrating."

Steinbaum added, however, that while the results can't be ignored, the study may not be large enough to justify taking women off calcium supplements just yet. "Preventive medicine is not something that can be standardized per person," she said. "It needs to be individualized."

The pharmaceutical industry does not necessarily agree with these points.

In a statement, Pamela Mason, a nutritionist and spokeswoman for the Health
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