London: Older people who regularly take calcium
supplements to strengthen bones and prevent fractures
may actually be increasing their risk of having a heart
attack, a new study has claimed. However, experts said
it was “irresponsible” to advise people with
osteoporosis not to take supplements “on the basis of
one flawed study”.
Millions of people worldwide have been prescribed to
take calcium pills daily as a safe way to help fight
But researchers from the University of Zurich and
German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg claimed
their study adds to mounting evidence that the
supplements are “not safe or particularly effective”.
For their study, the researchers followed 23,980
people for 11 years and found that those taking calcium
pills roughly doubled the risk of having a heart attack.
There were 851 heart attacks among the 15,959 people who
did not take any supplements at all. However, people
taking calcium supplements were 86%more likely to have
had a heart attack during the study.
Detailing their findings in the journal Heart, the
team said heart attack risk “might be substantially
increased by taking calcium supplements”.
The pills “should be taken with caution”, they
concluded, as they raise the annual risk of a heart
attack from about one in 700 people to one in 350, the
Daily Telegraph reported. Instead, people should eat
more calciumrich foods like milk, cheese and green,
The new findings are at odds with department of
health in UK which says “taking 1,500mg or less of
calcium supplements is unlikely to cause any harm”. It
only warns, “Taking high doses of calcium could lead to
stomach pain and diarrhoea.”
Dr Carrie Ruxton of the Health Supplements
Information Service also said, “It’s irresponsible for
scientists to advise osteoporosis patients cut out
calcium supplements on the basis of one flawed survey,
particularly when the link between calcium, vitamin D
and bone health is endorsed by the European Food Safety
She claimed the study lacked information on calcium
doses and its results could have been skewed by
variations in participants underlying health.