Regan L Bailey 1, Peishan Zou 1, Taylor C Wallace 2 3, George P McCabe 4, Bruce A Craig 4, Shinyoung Jun 1, Jane A Cauley 5, Connie M Weaver 1
Diet is a modifiable factor that is related to bone mass and risk for fractures; however, the use of calcium supplements for bone health is controversial, with little scientific agreement. The purpose of this analysis was to estimate the change in lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD and the risk of bone fracture by the use of calcium supplements among the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) participants. SWAN is a multicenter, multiethnic, community-based longitudinal cohort designed to examine the health of women across the menopause transition (n = 1490; aged 42 to 52 years at baseline in 1996 to 1997 and followed annually until 2006 to 2008). A mixed-effect model for repeated measures was used to estimate annualized BMD change across time between supplement users and nonusers, unadjusted or fully adjusted (age, race, height, weight, menopausal status [pre-, early peri-, late peri-, and postmenopausal], DXA scanner mode, alcohol intake, vitamin D supplement use, smoking, and physical activity) and a log-linear model with repeated measures was used to estimate the relative risk of fracture by calcium supplement use. All models were also stratified by baseline menopausal status. In fully adjusted models, calcium supplement use was associated with less annualized loss of femoral neck BMD (-0.0032 versus -0.0040 g/cm2/year; p < .001) and lumbar spine BMD (-0.0046 versus -0.0053 g/cm2/year, p = 0.021) in the complete cohort. However, this protective association of calcium supplement use with BMD loss was significant only among premenopausal women (femoral neck: -0.0032 versus -0.0042 g/cm2/year; p = 0.002; lumbar spine: -0.0038 versus -0.0050 g/cm2/year, p = 0.001); no significant differences in BMD were observed among women who were early perimenopausal by calcium supplement use at baseline. No significant differences in the relative risk of fracture were observed, regardless of baseline menopausal status. The use of calcium supplements was associated with less BMD loss over more than a decade, but was not related to the risk of incident bone fracture across the menopause transition.