DEMENTIA cases are set to triple by 2050, threatening millions of health services and patients groups worldwide. Researchers are racing to find a cure for the disease – but for the time being, prevention remains the first resort. Mounting evidence indicates that one supplement could double the risk of dementia among certain groups.
The rise of the supplement market at the beginning of the 20th century offered a quick-fix approach to self-care. But growing evidence has challenged the efficacy, if not safety, of vitamin and mineral supplements. One in particular, taken to stave off bone weakness, could be particularly harmful to certain women. Researchers say the findings suggest caution is warranted.
Calcium supplements are taken by a large number of women after menopause to strengthen their bones.
ln recent years, however, the mineral has come under scrutiny, with many scientists challenging popular belief about it.
One particular study raised concerns after it determined that calcium supplements could double the risk of dementia.
The analysis drew on data from a sample of 700 women aged between 70 and 92, none of whom had dementia.
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At the start of the study, the women had their memory and thinking skills assessed and underwent a series of CT scans.
A total of 98 women taking calcium supplements, 54 of whom had previously has a stroke.
Over the course of the study, 54 more women had strokes, and 59 women went on to develop dementia.
CT scans revealed that 71 percent of the women had lesions on their brain, which is a marker for cerebrovascular disease.
Women with these lesions were three times as likely to develop dementia as women who had lesions but did not take the supplement.
Findings also revealed that women who took calcium supplements were twice as likely to develop dementia than those who did not take the supplements.
Upon closer inspection, however, researchers found that the increase risk was only among women with cerebrovascular disease.
Women with a history of stroke on the other hand had a seven-fold higher risk of dementia.
The study author Silke Kern, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said: “Osteoporosis is a common problem in the elderly.
“Because calcium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis, daily calcium intake of 1000 to 1200 mg is recommended.
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