Dear Dr. Lakin,
In this morning’s NY Times (Science section), there was an article reporting  the results of “… a Swedish study that followed 61,433 women born between 1914 and 1948 for an average of 19 years.  After controlling for physical activity, education, smoking, alcohol and other dietary factors, they found that women who consumed 1,400 mgs. or more of calcium a day had more than double the risk of death from heart disease, compared with those with intakes between 600 and 1,000 mgs.  These women also had a 49 percent higher rate of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 40 percent higher risk of death from any cause. ”   The authors noted that calcium can increase blood levels of a protein associated with higher risk for cardiovascu  lar disease.I now take 1760 mgs. of calcium a day.  (Citracal – 1260 mg + Multi-vitamin – 500 mg.)  My last bone scan (April 2012) showed a 13% lower reading than the previous scan 3 years earlier.  Should I be concerned about the findings in the Swedish study?  Should I make any changes to mydaily calcium intake?Thank you in advance for your advice.

Mary Anne

Mary Anne;
Such epidemiological studies are always interesting and often curious, but they are difficult for any decision-making in a particular patients situation.
The risk of death is 100% of course…..eventually!  For all of us (but I’m working on this one!)
Seriously.  If your risk is 1% in your 60’s.  Perhaps 2% in your 70’s….from heart disease…..and 4 % in your 80’s……then you will increase to 1.5, 3 and 6% respectively.  I don’t think that is much in ‘absolute’ terms……so I would not let such indendiary comments lead to too much teeth gnashing.
I think this entire issue is uncertain as there is data, quite as compelling, just as contradictory and touting the benefits of calcium.
So…..I would:
1.  Do the most you can with natural forms of calcium.
2.  Continue to supplement…although you might diminish that a bit (I suppose) in deference to these findings.
PS…..I drove to work today…….1000% more dangerous than taking calcium!