Calcium Supplements Linked to Dementia Risk in Some Women

A new study adds to the questions surrounding the safety of calcium supplements.

Previous research has suggested this widely used dietary supplement may increase the risk of heart attack, and now data is linking calcium supplements to dementia in women who have had a stroke or who have white matter disease.

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“This relationship was focused on women with a history of stroke or white matter disease, which is an indicator of some vascular disease in the brain, those women were at an increased risk of having dementia,” said Irene Katzan, M.D., a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic.

Study results

Researchers studied 700 dementia-free women between the ages of 70 and 92. The women were followed for 5 years and calcium supplement use and dementia diagnosis were observed throughout the study.

Results show that women with a history of stroke who took calcium supplements had nearly seven-times the increased risk of developing dementia.

Women who took calcium supplements and had white matter disease were three-times as likely to develop dementia.

However, women without a history of stroke or white matter disease had no increased dementia risk when taking calcium supplements, according to the research.

Talk to a provider

Dr. Katzan said more research is needed and this study alone shouldn’t cause anyone to immediately stop taking their calcium supplements, but it should prompt a discussion with your healthcare provider.

“This is a good time to talk to your doctor about what supplements you should be taking, what is best in my specific instance, given my risk factors and my medical history,” said Dr. Katzan.

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