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Calcium supplements could be making prostate cancer worse

8th August 2012

A British charity has urged caution over new findings which have suggested that prostate cancer sufferers who take calcium supplements to protect against bone loss caused by treatment could be making their condition worse.

A review of trial data has concluded the supplements do not improve bone strength and that they may actually increase the risk of heart disease and more aggressive cancer.

However, Prostate Cancer UK has said that further research is needed in this area as the authors did not look at studies comparing patients given calcium supplements with those who were not.

Dr Kate Holmes from the charity said: “Although this review suggests that men who are taking supplementary calcium whilst on hormone therapy are not benefiting in terms of bone health, and may in fact be putting their overall health at greater risk, there is not sufficient evidence on the effects of calcium intake on bone health to reach any firm conclusions.”

She stressed that other health and safety issues should be considered before men increase their intake of dietary calcium but remained concerned that no studies were reviewed which compared calcium supplementation to no calcium supplementation.

Dr Holmes added: “We would encourage anyone who has concerns about their calcium intake to consult their doctor about their individual situation.”

The US study, published in the journal The Oncologist, reviewed guidelines for calcium and vitamin D supplementation, taking measurements of bone density before and after the men were prescribed hormonal therapy.

Some 5,000 men in the UK with prostate cancer are given hormonal therapy each year.

 

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