The most common cause of hypercalcemia is endocrine disorder
A study led by UCLA researchers, reveals that the most common cause of increased blood calcium level is primary hyperparathyroidism, that is an endocrine disorder. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, and is the first of its kind conducted on an ethnically diverse population. Primary hyperparathyroidism is a endocrine disturbance that occurs due to excessive functions of the parathyroid glands, which are endocrine glands located on the thyroid gland. Primary hyperparathyroidism is most often caused by a benign tumor (adenoma), rarely it may be due to hyperplasia of the parathyroid glands and even more rarely can be caused by a cancer developed from these glands. Primary hyperparathyroidism results in hypercalcemia, that is high levels of calcium in the blood, which can affect the bones (it can lead to fractures), kidneys (kidney stones) and other organs. However this disease should be differentiated from secondary hyperparathyroidism which occurs in response to low blood calcium levels.
The researchers found that this disoder, which is manifested by bone loss, fatigue and depression is more common in African-American women aged over 50 years. UCLA researchers found that hyperparathyroidism is the main cause of increased blood calcium level, being responsible for 90% of cases. Dr. Michael W. Yeh, associate professor of surgery and endocrinology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the study’s lead author, said that since the first cause of hypercalcemia is hyperparathyroidism, patients should also check their parathyroid hormone level.
For the study, researchers used a database that included information on 3.5 one million individuals and found that there were 15,234 cases of chronic high-calcium levels. Of these, 87%, that is 13 327 patients, had primary hyperparathyroidism. Yeh said it was surprising that the highest incidence was in black women over 50 years. This category was followed by Caucasians, Asians and Hispanics. In addition, what was also found was that the incidence of hyperparathyroidism increases with age.
However, Yeh stressed that more studies should be done to see how this disorder evolves in black women because it is known that this population tend to have fewer fractures. This means that they are, to a certain extent, protected against fracture and bone loss. These differences could lead to the development of guidelines based on racial differences. “Women can suffer for years with hyperparathyroidism and not know they have it, which is especially critical in midlife, when bone health is so important,” Yeh points out.