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Topics Alert Archive

Alert Number 26

"Coral Calcium"

Date: June 15, 2004

Topics Alert # 25 that was sent out earlier today got a few quick responses from members asking about "coral calcium" and vitamin D supplementation.

By combining "coral calcium" and vitamin D supplements and sun exposure to boot, CLL patients may be taking a serious risk. See the abstract below, one of many you can find on PubMed. More importantly, different people react differently to this potent mixture. I do not think supplementation along these lines is safe without careful monitoring of blood chemistry for calcium levels, especially for CLL patients. It is most definitely a case of one shoe not fitting all CLL patients, and why anecdotal information can be dangerous when taken out of context, without paying attention to the necessary caveats.

This is my single biggest problem with alternate-therapies, not so much the herbs and supplements that are recommended but the way in which they are recommended: a trend towards self-medication without adequate understanding of the complex issues, sound bites filling in for more detailed explanations, a subliminal message of mistrust of the entire medical establishment and a penchant for conspiracy theories that boggle my mind.

You are welcome to refer people to our website or my review article on vitamin D3, but please do not cite it as justification for "coral calcium" claims, or coral calcium supplementation. I do not support those claims, and I strongly disapprove the way it is marketed. Hypercalcemia is very serious and this fatal complication is of real concern in any cancer which involves the bones. To be honest, I dithered for several months before publishing my review article on Vitamin D3, worried about patients taking this information out of context. Be careful, people. It is important to read the fine print. The life you save will be your own.

Be well,



Support Care Cancer. 2003 Apr;11(4):232-5.

Dangerous nutrition? Calcium, vitamin D, and shark cartilage nutritional supplements and cancer-related hypercalcemia.

Lagman R, Walsh D.

Department of Medical Oncology, Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 9500 Euclid Avenue M76, Cleveland, OH 44195

The use of nutritional supplements in the general population and in cancer patients has become very popular. These supplements are not perceived as medications and are presumed to be safe by cancer patients, who may however be at risk for hypercalcemia. We note that many of our patients who have developed symptomatic hypercalcemia were taking vitamin D, calcium, or shark cartilage supplements. We report eight cases of hypercalcemia in cancer patients seen at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in whom these nutritional supplements may have contributed to the prevalence or severity of hypercalcemia.

PMID: 12673461

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