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Low Compliance Hinders Calcium Therapy in Elderly

Fracture risk reduced in older women who faithfully take supplements

TUESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Calcium supplements are not very effective for preventing bone fractures in elderly women, largely due to poor compliance, according to a report in the April 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Richard L. Prince, M.D., from the University of Western Australia, and colleagues assigned 1,460 women aged 70 or older to take either a placebo or 600 mg of calcium carbonate twice daily. Bone scans were performed at baseline and five years, at which time adverse events including fractures were noted.

At five years, 16 percent of women sustained one or more osteoporotic fractures. In the 830 women who took at least 80 percent of their supplements each year (57 percent of women), the hazard ratio for fracture was 0.66, compared with the placebo group. When considering the entire group, however, the hazard ratio for fracture with calcium supplementation was 0.87 and not significant. Those taking calcium had improved bone strength and quantitative ultrasonography findings of the heel, femoral neck and whole-body dual X-ray absorptiometry data.

The authors conclude that while calcium supplementation should not be considered as a public health approach for preventing fractures, it should be encouraged for those who are able to remain compliant. "In these individuals calcium supplementation is a safe and effective therapy for reducing the risk of osteoporotic fracture," they write.

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