Study Links Calcium Pills To Heart Risk
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31 July 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
Calcium tablets, popped by millions of women and senior citizens for strong bones, apparently have a potentially dangerous side–effect. The pills could increase chances of suffering a cardiac arrest, claims a new study.
An international panel of researchers – many of them from New Zealand’s Aberdeen and Auckland University – claim those who take calcium supplements to improve bone density face a 30% higher risk of heart attacks. It could also increase the risk of mortality and minor episodes of stroke.
The researchers, who published their study in the British Medical Journal on Friday, came to the conclusion after reviewing 11 random controlled trials of calcium supplements, which involved 12,000 patients. The findings were consistent across trials, and were independent of age, gender and types of supplement.
The researchers maintained that calcium supplements could rapidly increase calcium levels in blood, leading to arterial disease.
The study has been rubbished by Indian doctors, who argue that such episodes of heart attacks could occur in the West since calcium intake in diet is anyway optimum, thanks to their food habits.
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New Delhi: A recent study published in the British Medical Journal, linking calcium supplements to a 30% increase in risk of heart attacks, need not worry Indians, say doctors, as they say that most Indians are calcium–deficient.
“This study applies to the westerners, who are calcium–rich. Except in Haryana and Punjab, the intake of dairy products – a rich source of calcium – is abysmally low across the country. While, a healthy adult may require 900mg of calcium a day, a staple Indian diet provides just about 400mg. Hence, it is premature to say popping a 500mg of calcium pill a day will cause heart attacks” Dr Ambrish Mittal, president of Endocrine Society of India, said.
President of Heart Care Foundation of India and cardiologist Dr K K Agarwal said, “Around 1,500mg of calcium intake a day is recommended for women and senior citizens in India. But, Indians largely suffer from acute deficiency of Vitamin D required for absorption of calcium. That’s why the 40+ population needs to take calcium pills daily for good bone health.