Your body changes in so many ways after menopause. Some of them are obvious (no more periods) but others are more subtle, particularly changes in your risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and some cancers.
Now researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have identified another risk factor for a hormone condition that is most common in post-menopausal women between 50 and 60. The researchers say that the hormone condition, primary hyperparathyroidism or PHPT, is associated with a low calcium diet.
PHPT is caused by overactive glands secreting too much parathyroid hormone, which can lead to bone fractures. Other studies have found that untreated PHPT – which affects one in 800 people in their lifetime — may be linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
The researchers tracked nearly 60,000 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study who were between 39 and 66 when the study started in 1986. Calcium intake was assessed every four years for 22 years using a questionnaire that the women filled out.
Women the highest intake of dietary calcium have a 44 percent reduced risk of developing PHPT compared to women with the lowest intake.
The researchers say that other environmental and lifestyle risk factors could also affect the chances that a woman will develop PHPT and urges continuing research into the condition.
In the meantime, this study provides more evidence that post-menopausal women should pay attention to their calcium intake.
The National Institutes of Health has more information on the recommended dose and dietary sources of calcium.