Hypercalcemia (cont.)

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What are the causes of hypercalcemia?

One of the most common causes of high calcium levels (hypercalcemia), is an overproduction of parathyroid hormone, or hyperparathyroidism.

  • Hyperparathyroidism tends to be more common in women over 50.
  • It can be the result of all four parathyroid glands producing too much PTH (parathyroid hyperplasia), or one gland specifically producing an excessive amount of hormone (usually the result of a parathyroid adenoma, or benign tumor).

Hypercalcemia can occur due to other medical conditions. These conditions can vary in severity and chronicity, and may be life-threatening. Malignancy is a common cause of elevated blood calcium. Up to 20% of individuals with cancer will develop hypercalcemia at some point in their disease.

Other conditions associated with hypercalcemia include:

  • Cancers, especially lung cancer and breast cancer
  • Immobilization over a long period of time
  • Kidney failure
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or excessive thyroid hormone intake
  • Use of certain medications such as the thiazide diuretics
  • Inherited kidney or metabolic conditions
  • Excessive vitamin D levels from vitamins, excessive dietary calcium, or from diseases that may result in excess vitamin D production
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/9/2014

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