May 25, 2012 2:38 AM GMT
Taking calcium supplements increases the risk of having a heart attack, Swiss and German researchers reported Wednesday. The finding adds to the growing body of evidence that such supplements increase the risk to those who take them while providing only minimal benefits. The study is considered important because large numbers of people, especially elderly women, continue to take the supplements in hopes of minimizing loss of bone density. The body of evidence now seems to suggest that calcium consumed as part of a normal diet can, indeed, increase bone density and perhaps help lower blood pressure, but that supplements may be too risky for most people to take.
A team headed by epidemiologist Sabine Rohrmann of the University of Zurich studied almost 24,000 participants in a German arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. All participants were between the ages of 35 and 64 when they enrolled in the study between 1994 and 1998. Normal diets were assessed for the preceding 12 months and they were quizzed about whether they regularly took vitamin and mineral supplements.
Participants were then tracked for 11 years, during which the researchers recorded 354 heart attacks, 260 strokes and 267 deaths related to either heart attacks or strokes.