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A new study claims women who had a stroke and also took calcium to prevent post-menopausal brittle bones were at greater risk of dementia

New research has identified a potential risk between taking calcium supplements and developing dementia, BUT only if you had already had a stroke.

A study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden looked at 700 women aged between 70 and 92, and found that patients who had survived a stroke were found to be seven times more likely to go on to develop dementia if they took the daily supplement than stroke
patients who did not.

And those who suffered from other blood-flow brain disorders including white matter lesions which is a cerebrovascular condition, were three times more likely to develop dementia if they also took calcium supplements.

Calcium supplements are often taken by women who have gone through the menopause to help keep their bones strong and prevent brittle bone disease, which can occur as the drop in hormones reduces your ability to absorb calcium from food.

The researchers were keen to reassure people of two things. Firstly, that the dementia risk only increased in those who had suffered both the stroke or cerebrovascular problems AND took calcium supplements. If you took supplements but had no stroke problems, then the risk was not increased.

Secondly, this risk only occurred in those taking a supplement. People who eat foods rich in calcium – milk, cheese, yogurt – were not at risk.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said:

‘While this research does not show a direct link between calcium supplements and increased dementia risk, it does warrant further investigation.

‘People should not worry about eating and drinking calcium as part of a normal, healthy diet.

‘Calcium is essential to build strong bones and teeth and also aids muscle contraction.

This study looked at calcium supplements only, which have a different effect in the body to dietary calcium.’

If you take calcium supplements and are worried you might be at risk, talk to your GP.

Sources: Telegraph.co.uk & NewScientist.com