Low Calcium Diet associated with an increased risk for Primary Hyperparathyroidism

Credit: National Cancer Institute - Renee Comet (Photographer) - PD

(Best Syndication News) - Researchers found an increased risk for developing primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) in women who ate a low calcium diet. Primary hyperparathyroidism is a condition where the parathyroid gland is releasing too much of the parathyroid hormone into the body. The condition can cause weak bones, fractures, and kidney stones. Additionally, other studies have associated untreated PHPT with higher rates of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

PHPT is most often found in post-menopausal women between 50-60 years of age. One in 800 people will be affected by PHPT during their lifetime.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital wanted to see if low calcium intake was related to an increased risk for primary hyperparathyroidism in women. To investigate this, they used information from 58,354 women who were participating in the Nurses’ Health Study I.

These women were between 39 and 66 years old in 1986. At that time they did not have any history of PHPT. The women were asked every four years to fill out a food questionnaire, which went on for 22 years. There were 277 women who developed PHPT during the follow-up period.

The researchers then used the data to group the women into five groups based on dietary calcium intake. They also adjusted for factors such as age, body mass index (BMI), and ethnicity. The researchers found that the women who had the highest dietary intake of calcium were at a 44 percent reduced risk for developing PHPT compared to the group who ate the least amount of calcium. The researchers found that women who took a 500 mg/day calcium supplement were at a 59 percent reduced risk compared to those who took no calcium supplements.

Both dietary and supplementary forms of calcium were beneficial. Comparing these two intake methods independently, they found diet and supplement reduced the risk for developing PHPT.

The researchers caution that there could be possible unknown confounders that were not controlled, which could invalidate their findings. More research will be needed to determine if there are other environmental and lifestyle factors that could increase the risk.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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