NIH Study Finds High Calcium Intake Linked to Higher Heart Risk

Yahoo Contributor Network

A new study conducted by the National Institutes of Health has found that men who take calcium supplements are more likely to die from heart disease. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association-Internal Medicine on Monday, involved an "analytic cohort" of nearly 400,000 people over the course of 12 years.

The study was also sponsored by the AARP. All of the people involved were between the ages of 50 and 71 at the beginning of the study.

Here is some of the key information to have emerged on Monday from this NIH-AARP study.

* According to the JAMA-Internal Medicine report on the study, some 219,059 men and 169,170 women were selected to participate, out of an initial field of 566,399 applicants.

* Participants were chosen from six states between 1995 and 1996 -- California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania -- as well as two specific major metropolitan areas -- Atlanta and Detroit.

* Among the participants, some 51 percent of the men and 70 percent of the women took calcium supplements as part of their daily routine.

* According to the JAMA-Internal Medicine report, taking a calcium supplement appeared to coincide with a 20 percent increase in a man's risk of dying from heart-related causes. There was no noted increase in a woman's risk of dying from heart-related causes if she regularly took calcium supplements.

* Dr. Qian Xiao, who was one of the researchers who conducted the study for the National Institutes of Health, told Reuters in an email on Monday that she believes the link may be due to "calcium buildup in the arteries" that in some people "may affect cardiovascular risks."

* Researchers noted that those that got their calcium intake only through food and beverages had no increased risk of dying from heart-related causes.

* In a commentary piece accompanying the original study, Dr. Susanna C. Larsson, Ph.D., noted that some 43 percent of the U.S. adult population now takes extra calcium either as part of a multivitamin or in a separate calcium supplement.

* Larsson also noted that the higher the amount of calcium consumed in supplemental form, the higher the men's risk of dying from heart-related causes. Those that consumed calcium in lower doses, either as part of a multivitamin or smaller calcium supplements, had a 20 percent increase in their risk of dying from heart-related causes, but men who took higher amounts of "individual calcium supplements" had their risk of dying from heart-related causes jump by as much as 37 percent.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.

View Comments (3)