04 October 2018
THURSDAY, Oct. 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Vitamin D supplements have long been touted as a way to improve bone health and possibly ward off the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis in older adults. But a new study contends that claims of benefits from supplements of the “sunshine vitamin” fall flat. A review of previously published studies found that taking either high or low doses of vitamin D supplements didn’t prevent fractures or falls, or improve bone density. Vitamin D is found in very few foods. One of the biggest sources of the vitamin is exposure to sunlight. “Vitamin D supplement use is common, particularly in North America,” where up to 40 percent of older people take them, said lead researcher Dr. Alison Avenell. She is clinical chair in health services research at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. “Most adults don’t need to take vitamin D supplements, although they are unlikely to do harm if taken in low doses,” she added. Vitamin D supplements do prevent rare conditions, such as rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of bones) in adults. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency include those with little or no sun exposure, such as nursing home residents who are indoors all the time, or those who always cover their skin when outside, Avenell said. There’s also existing evidence that vitamin D helps prevent cancer or heart disease, she added. “Preserving bone strength involves keeping active, not smoking, not being too thin, and taking medications for osteoporosis,” Avenell said. Based on the new findings, Avenell thinks guidelines that recommend vitamin D supplements for bone health should be changed. For the new report, Avenell and her colleagues reviewed 81 studies, most of which dealt with vitamin D alone, not in combination with the mineral calcium. “Calcium supplements on their own have minimal effect on bone mineral density and fracture, and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Avenell said. The only evidence that calcium and vitamin D together prevent fractures comes from a trial of older people with very low vitamin D levels in nursing homes. But calcium and vitamin D may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, Avenell said. In addition, most of the studies covered in the new review included women aged 65 and older who took more than 800 IUs (international units) of vitamin D daily. The new study found no meaningful effect of vitamin D supplementation when it came to reducing any fracture, hip fractures or falls. This type of study, called a meta-analysis, tries to find common elements among previously published studies. This kind or research, however, is limited by differences in the methods and conclusions of the different studies analyzed by researchers, so the findings may not be consistent across the board. Dr. Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said this new study should convince doctors that vitamin D supplements don’t have a role in maintaining healthy bones, but they do have other benefits. Previous research suggests that vitamin D, when taken in tandem with calcium, may help prevent certain cancers and protect against age-related declines in thinking and memory. “What is important to keep in mind is that those with low vitamin D were not represented in this meta-analysis, and vitamin D supplementation — repletion, actually — is still necessary for those with low vitamin D levels, regardless of age,” Sood said. The findings were published online Oct. 4 in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. More information For more on vitamin D, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
03 October 2018
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 3, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The impact of acne is more than skin-deep, and often disrupts sleep and well-being, scientists have found. Researchers in Ireland report that perceived social stigma diminishes quality of life for many who have acne — especially girls and women. “We know from previous research that many acne sufferers experience negative feelings about their condition, but we have never before been able to draw such a direct link between quality of life and perception of social stigma around acne,” said study author Aisling O’Donnell. She’s a lecturer in the University of Limerick’s psychology department. The study findings echo previous research “showing that individuals with visible physical distinctions, which are viewed negatively by society, can experience impaired psychological and physical well-being as a result,” O’Donnell said in a university news release. Acne isn’t only a teen problem. The skin condition affects almost 13 percent of adults aged 59 and older and more than 1 in 10 kids between ages 5 and 13, the study authors said. For the new report, the authors surveyed almost 300 people with the blackheads and pimples that characterize acne. They found that those who perceived the most acne-related stigma had more psychological distress and physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, headaches and digestive issues. Women reported more severe symptoms than men. And acne severity correlated with the quality-of-life issues and mental distress, though only an association rather than a cause-and-effect link was seen. Facebook and other social media may indirectly reinforce perceptions of acne stigma, the researchers said. “Like many physical attributes that are stigmatized, acne is not well represented in popular culture, advertising or social media. This can lead people with acne to feel that they are ‘not normal’ and therefore negatively viewed by others,” said study co-author Jamie Davern, a Ph.D. student also at the University of Limerick. Davern said the findings are important for health care providers and anyone who has a loved one dealing with acne. “The wider negative impacts some acne sufferers experience are very challenging and require sensitivity and support,” he added. The study was published online Sept. 28 in PLOS ONE. More information The American Academy of Dermatology provides more on acne.
02 October 2018
TUESDAY, Oct. 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The number of Americans with diabetes who wind up in hospitals with serious infections, or who develop them while in the hospital, is on the rise. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of diabetics hospitalized for infections rose 52 percent (from 16 per 1,000 people to 24 per 1,000), according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “People with diabetes are more susceptible to in-hospital infections as compared with people without diabetes, and this risk is increasing,” said lead researcher Jessica Harding, from the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “The most common infection types in people with and without diabetes were respiratory tract and skin infections,” Harding said. But the rates of infection were seven times higher in people with diabetes, she added. The rise in overall infections is largely driven by increases in patients who develop sepsis while in the hospital, Harding said. “However, we also see in people with diabetes an increase in foot ulcers, coinciding with an increase in lower limb amputations,” she added. Dr. Louis Philipson, director of the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center, said it isn’t clear why diabetics develop more infections. “We do not even have data as to whether the infections occurred in people with more poorly controlled diabetes, though that seems like a reasonable guess,” said Philipson, who is also president-elect for medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association. High blood sugar decreases the activity of the immune system and can cause many changes in tissue, skin and blood flow, all of which can increase the risk of infections, Philipson said. “Exactly which factors are most important here, and whether access to health care played a role, we do not know yet,” he added. Urinary tract, skin and connective tissue infections are associated with high blood sugar levels and poorly controlled diabetes, Philipson explained. Preventing diabetes and reaching the optimum targets for blood sugar control are key to reducing infections. “Along with that, regular visits to a primary care doctor and specialist as needed to get the best foot care, eye care and review of kidney function will go a long way towards preventing complications of diabetes,” Philipson said. For the study, Harding and her colleagues used national hospitalization data from 2000 to 2015. The data captured about 20 percent of all hospitalizations in 46 states, representing more than 96 percent of the U.S. population. The investigators found that people with diabetes are about two to seven times more likely to be hospitalized with an infection than the general population. “Improved access to preventive care, as well as promoting education to reduce risk factors for underlying disease processes, will be essential to decrease the risk of infections in people with diabetes,” Harding said. Dr. Joel Zonszein directs the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. He said it’s concerning that the majority of patients with diabetes are not treated properly, since high blood sugar levels predispose them to infections. “We have proper ways to treat diabetes, and there should be no excuse why patients shouldn’t be getting the best care,” he said. “More research is not needed — more effective treatment is imperative.” The results of the study were scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, in Berlin. Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal. More information Visit the American Diabetes Association for more on type 2 diabetes.
02 October 2018
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01 October 2018
MONDAY, Oct. 1, 2018 (HealthDay News) — New research pinpoints three genes responsible for skeletal development that appear to be connected to chronic back pain. The study authors said their findings could shed new light on the biological factors involved in the development of the condition and lead to new treatments for back pain, which is the leading cause of disability around the world. For the study, an international team of researchers conducted a genome-wide association to search for gene variants associated with back pain. The study involved 158,000 adults of European ancestry. Of these participants, more than 29,000 suffered from chronic back pain. The scientists identified three new genetic variants linked to chronic back pain. The SOX5 gene, which is involved in nearly all phases of embryonic development, had the strongest link to the condition. Previous animal studies have shown that deactivation of this variant is linked to defects in cartilage and skeleton formation in mice. The study also showed that another gene, which has been associated with intervertebral disc herniation (commonly called a slipped disc), was also linked to back pain. The researchers also identified a third gene involved in spinal cord development, which could affect the risk for back pain due to its influence on pain sensation. The findings were published Sept. 27 in the journal PLOS Genetics. “The results of our genome-wide association study point to multiple pathways that may influence risk for chronic back pain,” said study leader Dr. Pradeep Suri, of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Seattle. “Chronic back pain is linked to changes in mood, and the role of the central nervous system in the transition from acute to chronic back pain is well-recognized,” he said in a journal news release. “However, the top two genetic variants we identified suggest causes implicating the peripheral structures, such as the spine,” Suri added. “We expect that further large-scale genetic studies will reveal the importance of both peripheral and central contributors to the complex experience of chronic back pain.” More information The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides more information on chronic back pain.