The study calls into question the long-time practice of prescribing calcium to lower phosphate levels in patients with chronic kidney disease.

The researchers suggest some of the calcium is absorbed into the blood stream and may expedite hardening of the arteries, leading to a higher risk of heart disease and even death.

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for people with chronic kidney disease.

"Doctors commonly prescribe calcium supplements to prevent elevated phosphate levels, which can damage the body, but a growing number of studies have shown calcium supplements may actually increase the risk of heart disease," Dr Sophie Jamal, a physician at Women's College Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, said.

"Our study validates these claims and, for the first time, shows the long-term consequences of taking calcium supplements can be dangerous for patients with kidney disease," she said. The study is published in the Lancet.


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