WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2012—In response to the study published today in Heart Journal, “Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study,” by Li et al., the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following statement.
Statement by Taylor C. Wallace, Ph.D., Senior Director, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, CRN:
“Calcium is an important mineral with proven benefits for bone health and a long history of safe use backed by an extensive body of observational and clinical studies that supports its use for reducing the risk for osteoporosis and hip, bone and other fractures. In addition, research has shown positive effects on risk factors associated with heart health.
This study itself is not reason enough to discount the important benefits of calcium, but consumers with questions—as well as their doctors—should consider these following points: The original study wasn’t designed to measure cardiovascular events; consequently confounding factors for cardiovascular disease were not equally distributed across the study groups. So, for example, the calcium supplement group had a population with a greater incidence of high cholesterol at baseline, and also included more smokers who were more likely to smoke for a longer duration. (The association between smoking and heart disease is well-established.) In terms of considering the relative risk, of the 851 individuals taking supplements containing calcium, only seven events occurred in users of supplements containing only calcium.
The bottom line is consumers need calcium, and particularly for the elderly, who are at such great risk of falls and fractures due to weak bones, removing calcium supplements from their diets could put them at even greater risk for those kinds of problems. Our advice is for consumers to be aware of how much calcium they get from their diet, supplement with calcium if needed, and check with their doctor or other healthcare practitioner to determine their own personal needs.”