Exploring Treatment Risks in Patients with Osteoporosis

Calcium Supplementation and Kidney Stone Risk

Older man reading on his laptop computerIn a study published online, researchers in Spain explored the incidence of nephrolithiasis (kidney stones) in patients with osteoporosis who are taking calcium supplements. Their study, “Calcium supplementation and kidney stone risk in osteoporosis: a systematic literature review,” was published in November 2012 in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Hospital Clinico de San Carlos in Madrid. To understand the risk of nephrolithiasis in patients with osteoporosis and calcium supplementation, the researchers conducted a review of literature using a variety of databases (Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials). Additionally, they looked at abstracts from the annual meetings of the American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism. The analysis included randomized clinical trials, cohort studies, and systematic literature reviews.

The researchers looked for studies that examined patients with osteoporosis who were taking calcium supplements alone, or in addition to other treatments for osteoporosis. The study authors determined patients’ likelihood of developing kidney stones or other changes in urinary function.

The study results included data on more than 8,000 patients with osteoporosis. The majority of those patients were women with an age range of 50-70 years. The women took between 120 mg and 1,500 mg of calcium per day, and treatment lasted between 3 days and 3 years.

The results showed some changes in patients’ urinary sediment levels, but they were not significant. In more than half of the studies included in the analysis, no cases of nephrolithiasis were found. In total, the researchers found 16 cases of nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis.

The study authors conclude that their results demonstrate that calcium supplements as a treatment for osteoporosis (alone, or when used in addition to other treatments for osteoporosis) do not significantly increase a person’s risk of nephrolithiasis.

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