In recent days there have been conflicting results of studies about women and health. Here is another. A new study says that calcium supplements taken by millions of women may not prevent broken bones, after all.
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has reached the surprising conclusion that calcium pills may not prevent broken bones. A calcium pill a day has been recommended for bone health.
Susan Winkeler has been taking calcium supplements for three years.
She said, "I take calcium because I'm concerned about osteoporosis and about the loss of bone density."
Priscilla Averbush says she never thought twice about adding more calcium to her diet.
"I take calcium for my bones. I think everyone should take it."
The latest study took 36,000 healthy, postmenopausal women and gave half of them standard supplements of calcium and Vitamin D, also good for bones, and gave the other half placebos or dummy pills.
Dr. Ethel Sirus of Columbia University said after seven years there was no difference in fracture rates between the two groups.
"If you're already getting enough calcium from your diet, I think this study tells us that you shouldn't be taking extra."
Researchers emphasize that women should take supplements only as needed because three to four servings of dairy products a day can provide all the calcium necessary says Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes of Tufts University.
"The goal is to get a total calcium intake of 1200 milligrams. If you get 600 from the diet, you need 600 from supplements."
The study says women who took supplements if they needed them did benefit.
Dr. Dawson-Hughes says some women should get a bone density test at 65 or younger: especially if they are thin, have had a fracture, or have never eaten many dairy foods.
"Exercise and in many cases prescription medications, are needed to lower the risk of a fracture"
The first step for healthy bones, researchers say, is accurately identifying who needs more calcium, and who doesn't.