This isn’t good news!  A pair of very large nutritional studies has just confirmed that taking too much calcium–especially calcium supplements, can raise your risk of heart attack by up to 86%.

OUCH!  This is especially bad news for women who take a lot of calcium in an attempt to ward-off osteoporosis.

News of this disturbing finding has already reached the main stream media.  Here are excerpts from several news outlets:

L.A. Times

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…

…The team reported in the journal Heart that those who had a moderate amount of calcium in their diet (820 milligrams daily) had a 31% lower risk of having a heart attack than those in the bottom 25% of calcium consumption, but those with a daily intake of more than 1100 mg did not have a lower risk. There was no evidence that any level of calcium intake in the diet affected stroke risk.

But when the team considered supplements, they found that those who took calcium supplements regularly were 86% more likely to have a heart attack than those who used no supplements. For those who took only calcium supplements, and no others, the risk doubled…

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New York Times

…But looking specifically at supplements presented a more alarming picture. People who got their calcium almost exclusively from supplements were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who took no supplements. The researchers speculated that taking calcium in supplement form causes blood levels of the mineral to quickly spike to harmful levels, whereas getting it from food may be less dangerous because the calcium is absorbed in smaller amounts at various points throughout the day.

The authors of the study said their findings indicate that people getting their calcium from supplements should do so “with caution.”

“Sufficient calcium intake is important, but my recommendation would be to get calcium from food, like low-fat milk and dairy products and mineral water rich in calcium, rather than from supplements,” said Dr. Sabine Rohrmann, an author of the study and a professor with the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich. Health authorities recommend that most adults get about 1,100 milligrams a day…

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Fox News

Taking calcium supplements doubles the risk of heart attacks, according to a controversial new study by Swiss scientists.

University of Zurich researchers found that people who take the pills are 86 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who do not, after studying data on 24,000 German men and women aged 35 to 64, over 11 years.

The risk more than doubled for people taking only calcium supplements, the researchers said.

Their findings, published in the journal Heart, could not show cause and effect, but advised that the supplements should be “taken with caution.”

“It is now becoming clear that taking this micronutrient in one or two daily [doses] is not natural, in that it does not reproduce the same metabolic effects as calcium in food,” the study authors wrote.

While dietary calcium is absorbed by the body slowly throughout the day, calcium supplements — which are often prescribed to elderly people and postmenopausal women to prevent bone-thinning — are more harmful because they cause calcium levels in the blood to soar, producing a “flooding” effect, the scientists said.

“We should return to seeing calcium as an important component of a balanced diet, and not as a low cost panacea to the universal problem of postmenopausal bone loss,” the researchers concluded.

The participants in the Swiss study had taken part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, which involved recording their diet and vitamin and supplement intake.

Dr. Taylor Wallace, senior director of scientific and regulatory affairs for the US Council for Responsible Nutrition, disputed the findings, which he pointed out contradicted with previous studies.

“Our advice is for consumers to be aware of how much calcium they get from their diet, supplement with calcium if needed, and check with their doctor or other healthcare practitioner to determine their own personal needs,” Wallace said.

WOW!  Another good argument for eating a nutrient rich diet full of calcium and other nutrients.  But who ever thought that simply taking a couple calcium pills could possibly do so much damage?

My next question is does this same principle apply to bisphosphonates–you know, like Boneva and Prolia.  And how about IV bisphosphonates like Aredia and Zomets that I take to help heel my bones, keep them strong and resist to bone lesions and tumors caused by my multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer?

Lots of questions and not enough answers.  I will see what I can find out!

Feel good, keep smiling and eat lots of dairy products rich in calcium–and then you can die of a heart attack from too much saturated fat in your diet!  We just can’t win, can we?  Pat

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