More evidence links calcium supplements to heart attacks
May 23rd, 2012
06:30 PM ET

More evidence links calcium supplements to heart attacks

Calcium supplements, widely taken by older people to prevent bone fractures, may be doing more harm than good, a large new study suggests.

Researchers tracked nearly 25,000 European adults for 11 years, and found that people who reported regularly taking calcium supplements were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who didn't use any supplements.

Only the use of calcium supplements, and not overall calcium intake, was associated with an increased risk of heart attack. In fact, people who consumed higher amounts of calcium from foods, such as milk and other dairy, tended to have a lower risk of heart attacks than people who consumed less.

Health.com: Heart trouble? 30 herbal remedies to avoid

The new study, which appears in the journal Heart, adds to the preliminary yet growing evidence that calcium supplements may harm the heart. Since 2010, two separate studies that re-analyzed existing data have reported a similar link betweencalcium supplements and heart attacks.

"Calcium is an important mineral," says Sabine Rohrmann, Ph.D., the senior author of the new study and an epidemiologist at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland. "However, we probably do not need mega-doses of calcium, and the current recommendation"—1,000 to 1,200 milligrams for most U.S. adults—"can be met by a balanced diet that includes (low-fat) milk and dairy products."

Older people who don't tolerate dairy products well could try mineral water or calcium-rich vegetables, such as certain types of cabbage, Rohrmann adds.

Health.com: 11 foods for healthy bones

Why is calcium from food any different than calcium from supplements? Experts aren't entirely sure, but one factor may be that supplements tend to release their calcium in a single flood rather than a slow, steady stream.

Calcium, along with cholesterol, is one of the substances that contributes to the hardening and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). For reasons that remain unclear, when calcium levels spike suddenly, the calcium appears more likely to end up in plaques that line artery walls, a major culprit in heart attacks.

"People who take supplemental calcium have a surge in [blood] calcium levels, and we know that surge increases calcium uptake in atherosclerotic plaques," says Christopher Cove, M.D., assistant director of the cardiac catheterization lab at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in Rochester, N.Y.

On the other hand, Cove says, "Calcium from your everyday diet is digested slowly, and it's also not the high concentration you get from tablets."

Health.com: 10 healthy calcium-packed recipes

For now, though, there are more questions than answers. The new study, known as an observational study, is the first of its kind to look at the link between calcium supplements and heart attacks, and it has several important blind spots that will need to be explored in future research.

Notably, only about half of the supplement users in the study itemized which vitamins and minerals they took, so the authors likelymissed some people who took calcium supplements, potentially skewing the results. And only about 1.5% of the study participants had a heart attack during the study, limiting the power of the findings.

In addition, as in all observation studies, unknown factors may have contributed to heart attacks. Although the authors controlled for a wide range of health measures and behaviors, it's possible that calcium-supplement users were more vulnerable to heart attacks for reasons that had nothing to do with the supplements.

Health.com: Surprising heart attack risks

Even these tentative findings could lead doctors to reconsider the use of calcium supplements, however.

Many postmenopausal women take calcium supplements to preserve their bone health as they age, but as an editorial accompanying the study suggests, the effectiveness of calcium supplements in preventing bonefractures appears to be so modest that it may not outweigh even a potential, still-unproven heart risk.

"Recommending calcium supplements may not be the right thing to do," Cove says.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. tadalafil 40 mg daily

    tadalafil online https://elitadalafill.com/ buy tadalafil

    April 16, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. what is alprostadil

    alprostadil suppository injection demonstration https://alprostadildrugs.com/ muse injection

    April 16, 2021 at 05:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. cvs ed products

    best erectile dysfunction natural remedies https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ buy erectile dysfunction pump cvs

    April 16, 2021 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. tadalafil daily use

    tadalafil daily use https://elitadalafill.com/ generic tadalafil

    April 18, 2021 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. alprostadil penile suppository price

    caverject injections https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil cream cost

    April 19, 2021 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. canadian generic pills

    best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ average perscription pills taken by 65 year old canadian?

    April 20, 2021 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. zithromax.com

    nikkomycin z https://zithromaxes.com/ thromax

    April 20, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. viagra canada by mail

    viagra sin receta en farmacias de canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ organic viagra in canada

    April 22, 2021 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. LhdvZisse

    cialis support 365 http://asciled.com/ generic cialis pills

    April 22, 2021 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. GvdbCrulk

    cialis tadalafil discount https://boxtadafil.com/ – sildenafil and tadalafil rui tadalafil

    April 22, 2021 at 21:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RfvbZisse

    cialis http://cileve.com/ sell of cialis

    April 23, 2021 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. JbsdEncox

    prescription discount http://onlinecanda21.com/ Brand Cialis

    April 24, 2021 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. BbdfMile

    viagra without a prescrip http://gensitecil.com/ where to buy generic viagra

    April 24, 2021 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. FbsfEncox

    drug stores near me https://uspharmus.com/ online rx pharmacy

    April 24, 2021 at 02:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RfvbZisse

    cialis generic purchase https://cileve.com/ – generic cialis uk cialis 10mg

    April 24, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. LhdvZisse

    order cialis in australia https://asciled.com/ how to obtain cialis

    April 24, 2021 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. AbdgEncox

    discount prescription drugs online http://canadianeve21.com/ Erythromycin

    April 24, 2021 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. JbsdEncox

    Cephalexin canadian online pharmacies canada prescriptions drugs

    April 25, 2021 at 19:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. FbsfEncox

    cialis online pharmacy https://uspharmus.com/ Avodart

    April 26, 2021 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. priligy

    priligy pills priligy

    April 26, 2021 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. GvdbCrulk

    tadalafil sale https://boxtadafil.com/ liquid tadalafil for sale

    April 27, 2021 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. AbdgEncox

    price prescription drugs http://canadianeve21.com/ Medex

    April 27, 2021 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. online sildenafil 100 mg

    sildenafil nz https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil generic us

    April 27, 2021 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. LrbsEncox

    levitra duration https://uslevitraanna.com/ canadian pharmacy levitra

    April 27, 2021 at 16:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. canadian pills pharmacy

    canadian generic pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    April 28, 2021 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. LrbsEncox

    levitra soft tabs kaufen https://uslevitraanna.com/ levitra 10mg price

    April 28, 2021 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. LhdvZisse

    herbal form of cialis http://asciled.com/ cialis cheap free shipping

    April 28, 2021 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. RfvbZisse

    cialis pharmacy mastercard https://cileve.com/ – genaric cialis herbal form of cialis

    April 29, 2021 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. canadian customs pills vitamins

    canadian weight loss pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pills pharmacy

    April 29, 2021 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. BbdfMile

    viagra super force https://gensitecil.com/ – average age of man taking viagra low cost viagra

    May 1, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. dapoxetine

    buy priligy usa dapoxetine tablet

    May 1, 2021 at 05:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LhdvZisse

    cialis online canadian https://asciled.com/ canadian pharmacy cialis 20mg

    May 1, 2021 at 06:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RfvbZisse

    cialis self life http://cileve.com/ – cialis generic cambodia can i buy cialis local

    May 1, 2021 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. avanafil

    avanafil dose avanafil

    May 1, 2021 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. JbsdEncox

    Lasix Imdur drugs for sale

    May 1, 2021 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. is it safe to get viagra from canada

    canada pharmacies viagra https://canadaviagrastore.com/ do you need a prescription for viagra in canada

    May 1, 2021 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. FbsfEncox

    Seroquel http://uspharmus.com/ – Vasotec canadian pharmacy online

    May 2, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. GvdbCrulk

    tadalafil classification https://boxtadafil.com/ tadalafil dosage for ed

    May 2, 2021 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. AbdgEncox

    canadian pharmacy online canada http://canadianeve21.com/ – Super Avana no prescription pharmacies

    May 2, 2021 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. LbsoZisse

    best price on cialis https://ucialisdas.com/ – no prescription canadian cialis cialis cheap

    May 3, 2021 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. GtnbCrulk

    viagra for sale online http://jokviagra.com/ how long before viagra works

    May 3, 2021 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RebfZisse

    buy 20mg cialis http://rcialisgl.com/ – generic cialis for sale generic cialis 30 pills 20mg

    May 4, 2021 at 03:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. BbshMile

    viagra online http://loxviagra.com/ half life of viagra

    May 4, 2021 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. avanafil

    avanafil pill avana tabs

    May 4, 2021 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. JebgEncox

    canadian online pharmacy no prescription http://pharmacylo.com/ Colospa

    May 4, 2021 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. hydroxychloroquine sulfate corona

    choloquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine

    May 4, 2021 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. FmrfEncox

    cialis online canadian pharmacy http://cialisee.com/ – buy cialis 20 mg online cialis brand no prescription 365

    May 5, 2021 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. LbsoZisse

    buy shop cialis 20mg http://ucialisdas.com/ cialis mastercard

    May 5, 2021 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RebfZisse

    online pharmacies for cialis http://rcialisgl.com/ cialis in australia

    May 5, 2021 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. AnooEncox

    antalya ucuz viagra http://llviagra.com/ viagra gold wiki

    May 5, 2021 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.