NEW YORK (AP) _ Women can dramatically reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome simply by taking some Tums tablets, according to a new study.

Conducted by researchers at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center, the study of 497 women showed that daily 1,200-milligram doses of calcium supplements slashed the symptoms by 54 percent.

The large study backs up several smaller ones that found a link between calcium deficiencies and PMS. The results of the study, sponsored in part by SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Tums, are to be published this week in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The earlier studies were so small that many scientists were skeptical, said nutritionist Connie M. Weaver of Purdue University, a nationally recognized expert on calcium issues. ``This one, they did it right,'' she said.

PMS symptoms include bloating, pain, irritability, food cravings, malaise, migraines and mood swings. It affects millions of women of childbearing age _ as many as 40 percent.

In the study, half the women were given four chewable calcium carbonate tablets a day, for a total of 1,200 milligrams of calcium. The other half received tablets without calcium.

The study showed a drop in symptoms among those who took the calcium supplements.