Calcium Supplements Tied to Heart Risk in Men
"Given the extensive use of calcium supplements in the population[often for osteoporosis], it is of great importance to assess the effect of supplemental calcium use beyond bone health," the investigators concluded in the study.
Taylor Wallace, a representative of the supplement industry, faulted this and other studies because, he said, they were not specifically meant to address calcium supplements and heart disease.
Wallace, who is senior director for Scientific & Regulatory Affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, said most studies of calcium supplements show no effects on the heart.
"Calcium supplements probably have a null effect on the cardiovascular system," he said.
Wallace noted that in the new study, the data that researchers used to draw their conclusions looked at diet and the risk for cancer, not whether calcium supplements were bad for the heart.
"What is needed, to close the chapter on this, is a large randomized control trial that is specifically designed to look at cardiovascular disease and calcium supplements," he said.
Although the study tied supplement use to increased risk of death from heart disease in men, it didn't establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
One medical expert said that neither men nor women should be taking calcium supplements without first checking with their doctor to assess the risks and benefits of these supplements.
"While further studies are needed, calcium supplements should be used only after careful consideration of whether the potential benefits in terms of bone health outweigh the potential cardiovascular risks," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart Association and a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
To learn more about calcium supplements, visit the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements.