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Women Taking Calcium Supplements May Risk Heart Health, Researchers Say
Date:4/20/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- More evidence is emerging that women who take calcium supplements to prevent bone deterioration may, in fact, be risking their heart health.

But even when added to previous studies with similar findings, the new conclusions don't necessarily mark a death knell for calcium supplements, say the authors of a study released online April 19 in the BMJ.

"There is a lack of consensus at the present time as to what recommendations should be regarding the use of calcium supplements," said study senior author Dr. Ian Reid, who fully expected that the new results will have a "significant impact on recommendations."

"Our own recommendation is to critically review the use of calcium supplements, since the data in this paper suggests that they do more harm than good," added Reid, who is professor of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

"The cautious way forward seems to be to encourage people to obtain their calcium from the diet, rather than from supplements, since food calcium has not been shown to carry this increased risk of heart disease," Reid added.

A recent meta-analysis done by the same group of researchers found a 27 to 31 percent increased risk of heart attacks in women taking calcium without vitamin D.

Many older women take calcium supplements with or without vitamin D to keep their bones strong, especially since that has long been standard medical advice. In addition, the mammoth, U.S.-government funded Women's Health Initiative (WHI) earlier found no negative link between calcium and heart health.

But, as the current authors point out, more than half of the women in that study were already taking their own calcium supplements on top of what they had been prescribed for the trial, which may have clouded the results.

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