Wednesday, March 13, 2013

USPSTF: No evidence calcium, vitamin D supplements stop fractures.

On NBC Nightly News (2/25, story 7, 0:30, Williams, 7.86M), chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman, MD, reported that "over 50% of women over the age of 60 take calcium and vitamin D to prevent hip fractures." However, "authorities today are saying don't take it," as there is "no proof it really helps."
        USA Today (2/25, Painter, 1.71M) reports, "Healthy post-menopausal women should not take low-dose vitamin D and calcium supplements in hopes of protecting their bones, a panel of government advisers says in a new recommendation." According to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), "the supplements don't work for that purpose, at least when taken at the relatively low daily doses that have been most thoroughly studied." This "advice, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, covers daily doses up to 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D and up to 1,000 milligrams of calcium."
        The Wall Street Journal (2/26, D3, Dooren, Subscription Publication, 2.29M) points out that not enough clinical data currently exist to tell if higher doses (that is, vitamin D doses above 400 IU and calcium doses above 1,000 mg) would be effective in preventing bone fractures.
        In print and in its "Well" blog, the New York Times (2/25, D4, 1.68M) reports that the new recommendations "do not apply to people with osteoporosis or vitamin D deficiencies, the task force said."
        The AP (2/26, Neergaard) reports, "For now, national standards advise the average adult to get about 1,000 mg of calcium, 1,300 for postmenopausal women, every day. For vitamin D, the goal is 600 IUs of vitamin D every day, moving to 800 after age 70, according to the Institute of Medicine, which set those levels in 2010."
        The Boston Globe (2/26, Salahi, 250K) "Daily Dose" blog reports that the USPSTF report "warns consumers that risks such as kidney stones from taking the supplements could outweigh any potential benefits."
        According to CQ (2/26, Norman, Subscription Publication), "An editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine said that the 'terse statements' used by the task force in its statements appear unlikely to settle ongoing debates over how such vitamin supplements should be used." In addition, "the editorial urged further research and said that for now, the task force's 'cautious, evidence-based advice should encourage clinicians to think carefully before advising calcium and vitamin D supplementation for healthy individuals.'"
        Also covering the story are Reuters (2/26, Seaman), the NPR (2/25, Shute) "Shots" blog, HealthDay(2/26, Gray), MedPage Today (2/26, Bankhead), and Medscape (2/26, Barber).

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