Older patients with osteoporosis are often given calcium supplements to support bone density, but evidence suggests that these products might harm vascular health, which can increase dementia risk.
Researchers analysed data from a previous population study involving 700 women aged 70–92 years who did not initially have dementia.
Brain scans were performed in 2000–2001 and again in 2005–2006. The later scans revealed that more women taking calcium supplements (n=98) developed dementia compared with those who didn’t (14.3% vs 7.5%, P=0.046), and in particular stroke-related dementia (8.2% vs 2.4%, P=0.006).
Further analysis revealed that the increase in risk was primarily restricted to women with cerebrovascular disease.
The researchers conclude in Neurology (online, 17 August 2016)
that calcium supplements may increase the risk of dementia in older women with cerebrovascular disease, but more research is needed.