Still another expert weighed in on the study's importance.
"This suggests very weakly that these other effects of calcium supplementation need to be paid attention to. It's a very good study in that sense," said Dr. Bernard Roos, director of geriatrics research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Miami VA. "The effect they're reporting is very small. I don't believe that it should change people's behavior. I believe the conclusion that they drew is fair: This should just alert you to the possibility that it's a potentially detrimental effect."
Roos also pointed out that healthy postmenopausal women, such as those participating in this analysis, would not be expected to be taking calcium anyway. "Healthy postmenopausal women, by definition, don't have osteoporosis, so if you don't have osteoporosis, why are you so worried about taking anything if you're healthy?" he said.
Prior evidence had indicated that calcium supplementation might protect against vascular disease, because it increases the ratio of HDL or "good" cholesterol to LDL or "bad" cholesterol by almost 20 percent. There is also evidence that calcium reduces blood pressure (albeit only briefly). And people who live in areas with calcium-rich water seem to have a lower risk of cardiovascular problems.
But the overall evidence, especially in older women, is inconsistent, stated the study authors.
And any negative heart effect would have to be taken seriously given that postmenopausal women have a higher incid
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