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Scare Story: Calcium Gives You Heart Attacks

by | 30th, July 2010

DAily Express scare story Scare Story: Calcium Gives You Heart AttacksSCARE Story of The Day comes to us via the front page of the Daily Express. News is that pills to make you healthier give you a heart attack. As the headline yells:

“HEALTH PILLS HEART ATTACK DANGER”

What follows are details of “a disturbing report” into a link between calcium supplements and heart attacks. Readers get this fact:

Scientists have found that people are 30 per cent more likely to have a heart attack if they take calcium pills regularly.

That is clear statement of a direct link between calcium supplement and heart attacks.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the scientists conclude: “a reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis is warranted.”

The experts believe the pills may lead to hardening of the arteries which can cause heart attacks.

Believe. May. Can. When those three words appear in one sentence the facts seem to be less certain. The report states:

“Calcium levels have been positively associated with an increased incidence of heart attack in large observational studies.”

Or as Judy O’Sullivan, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, says:

“We need to be cautious because none of the studies were designed to look specifically at the relationship between calcium supplements and the risk of heart attack.”

So. The story is nonsense. No link is proven because no links was properly researched. And then did the researchers investigate if the patients had other causes of arterial hardening/narrowing? No. We dio know the age of the people in t the study.

But in 2008, Auckland University boffins gave us this:

The University of Auckland team followed 1,471 healthy postmenopausal women for five years. Each woman either took a daily calcium supplement, or a dummy pill.

Heart attacks were more common in the group who took the supplements.

After a careful analysis of the data, the researchers confirmed 36 heart attacks in 31 women who took the supplements, compared with 22 heart attacks in 21 women who took the placebo.

That’s 116% against 105%. It proves..?

Lead researcher Professor Ian Reid said: “It is likely that this is primarily a problem for elderly women because they are more likely than younger subjects to have prevalent coronary heart disease.

“Therefore, it seems wise to advise against calcium supplementation in those over the age of 70 years and in those known to have coronary heart disease.

“Seems” is a conclusion? As for the latest research:

Scientists reviewed 11 studies involving 12,000 patients. Those on calcium supplement took at least 500mg a day. Teams from the Universities of Auckland and Aberdeen found those taking calcium supplements were 30 per cent more likely to have a heart attack than those who did not.

Researchers looked at one isolated fact in past studies.

This equated to 166 patients on calcium supplements having a heart attack compared to 130 heart attacks among those who were not.

Which proves..? It proves it does not take much to make a Daily Express front-page story…



Posted: 30th, July 2010 | In: Scare Stories Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink