Biased Calcium Studies Needlessly Alarm Women
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist Byron J. Richards,
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Make no mistake, plenty of Big Pharma vitamin haters are out there doing everything in their power to mislead, confuse, and even alarm women so that they will rely on toxic drugs and lose confidence in effective ways to naturally bolster health. It does not surprise me at all that the Big Pharma-funded media actively promoted two bogus and misleading calcium studies with gusto. What would you think after seeing these utterly ridiculous headlines, “Calcium Supplements May Raise Heart Attack Risk” and “Healthy Women Advised Not to Take Calcium and Vitamin D to Prevent Fractures.” These stories were widely trumpeted for attention grabbing purposes by major TV and cable news stations, putting the nutritional ignorance of the doctors associated with reporting these stories on display. Does it surprise you that a third calcium study, “Vitamin D With Calcium Shown to Reduce Mortality in Elderly,” received almost no attention?
There is no question that the two biased studies, along with their reckless reporting, instills doubts and fears in the women who read them, even in those who are big believers in nutrition. Thus, in defense of calcium, I offer the following explanations:
Calcium and Heart Health
The study linking calcium supplements to the risk of heart attack is based on German research on German citizens. Before I explain the study it is important to understand that Germany is the world leader in natural health suppression. Their “experts” are behind the abysmal CODEX movement to eliminate most dietary supplements from the market, even in the U.S. The German people have been sent back to the Stone Age with the type and quality of dietary supplements that are available for them to take, which makes a distinct difference as to how effective those supplements will be. Thus, it is safe to assume that the German citizens in this study were subjected to the lowest quality calcium supplements made by the German companies Bayer and BASF, companies that can only be matched by Monsanto when it comes to a sordid and deadly health destructive history. There is no reason for any American to trust any data manipulation coming from this vitamin-hating propaganda machine.
To concoct their biased study the researchers looked back at data from a study that was never set up to evaluate cardiovascular risk. This means that risk factors for cardiovascular disease were not spread evenly between retroactively established study groups, which means that the accuracy of cardiovascular conclusions from such data is inherently flawed.
Not to be deterred by this simple fact, the researchers went on to massage data to concoct the alarming “finding” that users of calcium supplements had an 86 percent increased risk of heart attack, which became the sound bite heard around the world. If that were true I would throw every calcium supplement I know of in the trash basket. So what is the truth?
The “study” evaluated data pertaining to 23,980 participants who were followed for 11 years. A small subset of this group was actually taking calcium-containing or calcium-only supplements (851 people). It was known that the calcium-taking group had more individuals who were smokers and had high cholesterol than the general group, meaning they were already at risk for higher cardiovascular disease. There was no controlling for the common use of the medical rat poison Coumadin, which could lead to calcium being inappropriately diverted to arteries and the heart. During the study period a total of nine people taking calcium had a fatal cardiovascular event. This data was then compared to the larger group of people who were in better cardiovascular health. This biased and inaccurate comparison resulted in the false and alarming conclusion linking calcium and heart disease, based on a very small number of people from a group that had higher cardio risks in the first place.
While the 86 percent increased risk sounds quite alarming, it is nothing but a statistical stunt. This study is pure propaganda trash. It is of great disservice to women everywhere.
Calcium and Bone Health
The second alarming calcium study came in the form of recommendations for American women by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The Task Force concludes that there is a lack of evidence to support the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent fractures in pre- and postmenopausal women and goes on to recommend against taking vitamin D and calcium carbonate (due to a small risk of kidney stones). It requires mental gymnastics to follow their bizarre reasoning. Their conclusions, based on a twisted and selective interpretation of data, can only be viewed as an agenda-oriented proclamation against dietary supplements while flat out ignoring the obvious benefits. It is rather disgusting that U.S. taxpayers have to foot the bill for this type of pandering to Big Pharma, who is more than happy to keep on promoting toxic bone drugs that even the FDA says does not help bones.
It was only six months ago that the very same Task Force told us, “Combined vitamin D and calcium supplementation can reduce fracture risk.” Now the Task Force has changed its mind by looking at a biased subset of the same exact data. This earlier positive conclusion was based on an evaluation of 19 randomized controlled trials and 28 observational studies. Apparently, this conclusion was not what the governmental powers that be wanted to hear. Thus, the Task Force threw out all of the observational studies and reduced the number of randomized controlled trials to 16. While that might sound reasonable to some, the net result was to seriously and negatively bias the report in an anti-calcium way. One can only assume such shenanigans were intentional.
Limiting the data evaluation to the 16 available randomized controlled trials unfairly placed emphasis on the results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). With so many more participants than all the other studies WHI now becomes the one study that matters in the data evaluation.
The problem with that is the WHI is known to be widely flawed in terms of its calcium information. The women in this study selected to take calcium were supposed to take 1,100 mgs of calcium per day. However, many did not follow what they were supposed to do, yet were still included as calcium-takers in the overall official study results. Indeed, the WHI researchers themselves reported that of the women who actually took the calcium they were supposed to take, 29 percent had a risk reduction in hip fracture, a finding not considered by the Task Force.
Making matters worse, the researchers in the WHI decided it was unethical to tell other women in the study not to take calcium supplements or to restrict dietary calcium. As it turned out, many of the “non calcium” women were actually consuming high amounts of calcium, often on par with the calcium-taking women. This means there is no actual way to determine the benefits of calcium from this study, which now comprises the dominant data in the new negative recommendation by the Task Force.
This governmental Task Force is not at all in sync with other government proclamations. In 2010 the Institute of Medicine recommended daily intake for adults of 600-800 IU of vitamin D and 1,000-1,300 mg of calcium. Even the backwards-leaning FDA has approved a health claim for vitamin D and calcium for the prevention of osteoporosis. Neither of these governmental groups makes recommendations or allows health claims without overwhelming science to support them.
The Task Force has managed to do a great disservice to all women . No matter what governmental proclamation comes along the fact that calcium is a raw material required for healthy bones will never change. It is quite true that many cofactors are also needed in the formation and preservation of bone, which either help to assemble bone or reduce the inflammation that deteriorates bone too fast. What women actually need is to better understand all aspects of bone health, which include adequate calcium and vitamin D, both proven and important to bone health. The quality of calcium is another essential aspect of this issue, invariably ignored in almost all calcium studies. In my 25-plus years of experience I have seen time and again that high quality calcium produces spectacular results for bone health.
Calcium and Longevity
The third recent calcium study came to a far different conclusion than the two previously explained. It is a meta-analysisA quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance. of vitamin D and calcium studies involving 70,528 randomized participants. The participants were 90 percent women, with a median age of 70 years. During the three-year study, death was reduced by nine percent in those treated with vitamin D and calcium supplements.
“This is the largest study ever performed on effects of calcium and vitamin D on mortality,” said Lars Rejnmark, PhD, of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and lead author of the study. “Our results showed reduced mortality in elderly patients using vitamin D supplements in combination with calcium, but these results were not found in patients on vitamin D alone.”
Savvy seniors will likely opt to act on data in support of an extension in lifespan from a non-biased mainstream study compared to two biased studies with no credibility or excuse for their bizarre attack on the health of women.
In conclusion, whether your favorite TV or cable news stations lean to the left or to the right, they actually have one thing in common. Their medical staffs are nutritional neophytes with no ability to accurately report on dietary supplements. Rather, producers latch on to sensational headlines to grab attention, with no competent way to analyze the accuracy of the study being reported. All of these stations live on Big Pharma advertising dollars. It is really no surprise what they are willing to report to forward an agenda. It appears that they could care less that they have actively contributed to damaging the health of millions of American women. One should assume that they have the same level of morality when reporting politics, which should give you pause before believing too steadfastly in anything they have to say, even if it is what you want to hear.
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