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Calcium supplements may not prevent bone loss in women with breast cancer
Date:8/27/2013

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. August 27, 2013 Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer are widely prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent and manage osteoporosis, an unwanted side effect of breast cancer therapies. However, new research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center finds that the recommended daily doses of these supplements may not prevent loss of bone mineral density (BMD) in these women.

Study author Gary G. Schwartz, Ph.D., a cancer epidemiologist at Wake Forest Baptist, said the purpose of the study was to examine whether a seemingly common sense prescribing practice actually works. "We evaluated clinical trial evidence for calcium and vitamin D supplementation in maintaining skeletal health of women with breast cancer," he said. "At the doses recommended, the data show that these supplements are inadequate to prevent loss of BMD."

Schwartz and co-author Mridul Datta, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Wake Forest Baptist, reviewed data from clinical trials that evaluated the effect of antiresorptive drugs on BMD and used the "before-after" data from the comparison group to assess change in BMD in pre- and in post-menopausal women. Overall, the results from 16 trials indicate that 500-1500 mg calcium and 200-1000 IU vitamin D, the doses commonly recommended, do not prevent loss of BMD in women with breast cancer. Despite supplementation, women lost BMD in virtually every clinical trial reviewed.

The study appears online ahead of print this month in the journal Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology.

Women with breast cancer lose BMD at a higher rate than their healthier counterparts, increasing their risk of fractures which are associated with significant declines in function and health-related quality of life, and in higher mortality rates.

Consequently, it is a common practice to prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements to these women, a "low intensity" intervention that seems to
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Contact: Bonnie Davis
bdavis@wakehealth.edu
336-716-4977
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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