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NPA calls calcium study "less than satisfactory"

The Natural Products Association says a published report linking calcium supplements to an increased risk of heart attacks is flawed.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found nearly a 30 percent increased likelihood of having a heart attack among people older than 40 who were taking calcium supplements The researchers took the data from 15 previous studies and pooled it into one study to help determine if the increased risk held true in a large population. The risk was not increased in those who got their calcium from natural sources, or in those who took vitamin D with their calcium supplements, the report said.

Researchers also said calcium supplements appeared to have only a minor effect on bone health and perhaps no effect in preventing fractures and suggested that their use should be reconsidered.

The study, headed by Ian Reed, MD, at the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, recommended moving away from calcium and instead eating calcium-rich foods.
But Daniel Fabricant, vice president of global government and scientific affairs for the Natural Products Association, said the study doesn’t provide enough evidence to warrant eliminating calcium supplements.

"There are thousands of studies on calcium, but the authors selected only eight to do this meta-analysis. None of the selected studies had cardiovascular outcomes as the primary end-points, and data on cardiovascular events were not gathered in a standardized manner, so it would appear much more of a predetermined outcome versus one of great scientific rigor,” Fabricant said in a statement.

He added, "We have seen the argument time and again that people can get all the nutrients they need from a balanced diet. However, we have also seen time and again that the majority of Americans do not eat a balanced diet. With that understanding, we hope that all individuals who use calcium supplements, and especially those populations that are at high risk for fractures, will continue their regimens and not be dissuaded by the attention surrounding this less than satisfactory study."

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