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Calcium pills raise your heart attack risk

Calcium supplements, taken by millions of elderly people and post-menopausal women to prevent bone thinning, may double the risk of a heart attack, a study has found.

Researchers warned that the pills should be "taken with caution", and experts commenting on the findings questioned their safety.

Previous studies linked higher calcium intake with a reduction of heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

But the new research from Germany points to a vital difference between dietary calcium from sources such as milk, cheese, greens and kale, and supplements.

Taken in supplement form, the mineral floods the bloodstream, causing changes that may produce hard deposits on the walls of arteries, scientists believe.

Researchers analysed data on 23,980 German men and women aged 35 to 64 taking part in a study called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Over a period of 11 years, a total of 354 heart attacks, 260 strokes and 267 associated deaths were recorded.

Participants whose diets included a moderate intake of calcium -- around 820mg daily -- from all sources had a 31pc lower heart attack risk than those with the lowest intake.