Professor Ian Reid who spoke at the Osteoporosis Conference in 2010 has written an editorial in Heart, June 2012 Vol 98 No 12 (requires subscription) about the recent study from Li et al. (open access) on calcium supplementation and its links with cardiovascular mortality.
The Li et al study has put calcium supplementation back in the media spot light today regarding the risks of heart attacks through calcium supplement intake. Professor Reid’s editorial notes the move in recent decades to increase the intake of calcium supplements, mostly for the prevention of postmenopausal osteoporisis.
1471 healthy postmenopausal women were included in the study. They were randomised to receive calcium 1 g/ day or placebo over 5 years and showed increases of about 40% in cardiovascular event rates in the former group.
Calcium has long been seen as a safe supplement, however it would seem its effects on the body may not be the same as calcium found in food, the study concludes.
In Professor Reid’s summary he recommends viwing calcium as an important component of a balanced diet , not as a “lowcost panacea to the universal problem of postmenopausal bone loss”.
The views of the National Osteoporosis Society regarding this study are featured in the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Guardian Online where Dr Claire Bowring of the National Osteoporosis Society said:
“This study further highlights the need for care when considering taking calcium supplements. If you get all of the calcium that you need from your diet then a supplement will not be necessary. Boosting calcium beyond recommended levels has no extra benefit for bones… Supplementation may be warranted if you are unable to get enough calcium in your diet, but it needs to be done with consideration. We know that people with osteoporosis are at increased risk of painful and debilitating fractures and this needs to be considered alongside any risks and benefits of supplements. If you have a heart condition or if you feel you may be at risk of a heart attack it is important to talk to your GP who will discuss with you the risks and benefits of taking a supplement.”
This new study certainly adds insight into calcium supplementation and the debate will continue at the Osteoporosis and Bone Conference 2012 in Manchester between 1-4 July, where Professor Bo Abrahamsen will debate the pros and cons in his debate Calcium and Vitamin D: Kill or Cure.
To book you place at the conference please visit the conference website www.nos.org.uk/conference
To view Professor Ian Reid’s full editorial please visit http://heart.bmj.com/content/98/12/895.full (requires subscription)
To read the full research paper visit http://heart.bmj.com/content/98/12/920.full (open access)