Lisa Markwell: Why my calcium conundrum has put me on a diet

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Some new reports just make people roll their eyes. Unusual weather, for instance. Or the latest "witty" Jubilee-themed sandwich. Or a fresh health scare.

Me, I love a health scare. Well, love isn't quite the right word. I am interested in them and always try to take the time to read and understand them. If one were to just glance at a headline and stop/start drinking red wine; stop/start taking supplements or stop/start running, it could be more than a little detrimental. Tempting, but a bad idea.

The latest eye-catching medical headline; yesterday's news that taking calcium supplements can, to quote the report, "raise the heart attack risk by 86 per cent".

Calcium is not a very sexy subject. A shortage of it affects (most often) post-menopausal women and they're not "hot". Well, they are, you know, hot, but not in that way. They're of limited interest to agenda-setters, whether that's Hollywood money men or the editors of Newsnight or the designers of fashionable clothing. But, here's the thing, there's an awful lot of them.

I can hear the eyes rolling. For boring reasons to do with the combination of cancer and thyroid problems, I am supposed to take two calcium supplements a day, a total of 3,000mg of the stuff. No one, the full report says, should have more than 1,100mg a day of calcium – it floods the system and could cause heart problems. So, should I stop taking the tablets?

Herein lies the problem. We are indoctrinated (no pun intended) into not bothering our GPs unless a limb has dropped off or our hearts are beating out of our chests, but what's a worried pill-popper to do? Who do we ask?

With each health scare, GPs must brace themselves for calls from those either too worried or too ill to wait until their next scheduled appointment. I've learned the hard way not to consult Professor Google on matters medical, that way lies paranoia and misinformation. But I am glad to have been given the health-scare news so that I can make what might be a sensible change (I'll await a GP consultation before making it permanent).

The decision is to stop taking the tablets and go on a diet. That might sound like I need another kind of medication – to treat terminal stupidity – but here's the logic.

The generally accepted variety of diet that deals with middle-aged spread is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate one, like the Dukan. If we calcium-depleted 40-somethings eat lots of cheese, yoghurt and oily fish, we'll have trimmer waists and calmer hearts.

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