April 24, 2006

Calcium pills help women, if they take them: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Older women who took calcium
supplements twice a day reduced their risk of breaking a bone,
but getting them to take the pills proved to be a problem,
researchers said on Monday.

Nearly half the 1,460 healthy women older than 70 who
participated in the study did not consistently take the
twice-daily 600-milligram pills, which led the researchers to
doubt whether supplements could be useful as preventive

"The calcium supplementation regimen tested currently
cannot be recommended as a public health approach to fracture
prevention because of the lack of long-term compliance," wrote
study author Richard Prince of the University of Western
Australia in Perth.

But taking extra calcium in supplement form did help those
women who took them consistently, the report said.

Among the 310 women in the study who took at least 80
percent of their allotted calcium, 10 percent suffered a
fracture within one year compared to 15 percent of the 320
women who regularly took a placebo, the study found.

The study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine
included healthy women whose bodies had adequate levels of
vitamin D, another important ingredient for healthy bones.

More than half of post-menopausal women are susceptible to
osteoporosis as their levels of the hormone estrogen decline,
which in turn causes their bodies to excrete more calcium. Loss
of the mineral can lead to less flexible and more brittle bones
prone to fracture.

Of the 10 million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis,
8 million are women, according the National Osteoporosis