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Br J Nutr. 2019 Nov 29:1-19. doi: 10.1017/S0007114519003076. [Epub ahead of print]

Association of supplemental calcium and dairy milk intake with all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the UK Biobank: a prospective cohort study.

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Australian Centre for Precision Health, University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute, School of Health Science, University of South Australia.


Excessive calcium intakes have been proposed to associate with vascular calcification and a higher risk of prostate cancer. We investigated the associations of supplemental and dietary calcium intake with mortality using data from 497,828 UK Biobank participants. The average follow-up was 4.2 years and 14,255 participants died, 8,297 from cancer, 2,959 from cardiovascular diseases and 572 from respiratory disease. The use of calcium supplements and milk consumption were associated with differences in mortality in younger (≤65 years) but not in older participants (>65 years, Pinteraction≤0.04 for all comparisons). Among participants <65 years, there was an inverse association both between calcium supplementation (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.83-0.99) and milk consumption (OR 0.93, 95% CI 0.86-1.00) with respect to all-cause mortality. In the same age group, milk drinkers had lower odds of cancer mortality (OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.80-0.98) but calcium supplement use was associated with increased odds of respiratory mortality (OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.16-2.74). All associations in participants aged ≥65 years were null after full adjustment. In sensitivity analyses stratifying by hormone replacement therapy, calcium supplement use associated with decreased odds of cancer mortality in users but increased risk in other women (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.69-0.94 vs. OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.01-1.35, respectively). To conclude, we saw little evidence for harm with dietary or supplemental calcium. Further studies are required to confirm the proposed interaction with hormone replacement therapy and to exclude reverse causation as a determinant in the association between calcium supplements and increased risk of respiratory diseases.


all-cause mortality; calcium supplements; cancer mortality; cardiovascular mortality; dairy milk; respiratory mortality.


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