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Council for Responsible Nutrition, Natural Products Association respond to British Medical Journal meta-analysis

WASHINGTON — Two associations representing dietary supplement companies criticized a British Medical Journal meta-analysis published April 20 that concluded calcium and vitamin D supplementation may increase risk of heart attack and stroke.

“[The] findings were not what one would expect to find — that for the women not taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial, those allocated to combined calcium and vitamin D supplements were at an increased risk of cardiovascular events,” Council for Responsible Nutrition SVP scientific and international affairs John Hathcock said. “Conversely, the authors also wrote that for women who were taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial, combined calcium and vitamin D supplements did not alter cardiovascular risk. So in this case, it appears the more you take, the better off you may be,” he said. “It seems more likely that [the] findings are a procedural or statistical anomaly.”

The authors of the controversial meta-analysis elected not to disclose possible benefits of calcium supplementation, Hathcock added. “While the authors did include data for those who before the trial had ‘any personal use of calcium’ having a highly significant 16% decrease from death from all causes, they chose to ignore that point in their text, having identified it only in a table.”

“This latest analysis does not present compelling evidence against calcium and vitamin D, and in fact, there are many more studies touting the beneficial effects for both,” stated Cara Welch, VP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association. “We hope that all individuals who use calcium supplements for bone health, and especially those under the direction of a physician, will continue their supplementation and not be swayed by this flawed analysis.”

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