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Vitamin E Acetate Is Leading Suspect in Vaping-Linked Lung Illnesses: CDC

FRIDAY, Nov. 8, 2019 — A new federal report points to an oily chemical known as vitamin E acetate as the likely culprit behind more than 2,000 cases of severe lung illness among vapers.

After taking fluid samples from the lungs of 29 vapers who were hospitalized for the illness in 10 states, scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spotted the chemical in all of the samples.

“This is the first reported identification of a potential toxicant of concern (vitamin E acetate) in biologic specimens obtained from [these] patients,” the researchers said in the Nov. 8 online edition of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury.”

But the CDC researchers added that more study is still needed.

“Based on these data from 29 patients, it appears that vitamin E acetate is associated with [severe lung illness]; however, it is possible that more than one compound or ingredient could be a cause of lung injury, and evidence is not yet sufficient to rule out contribution of other toxicants,” according to Benjamin Blount and his colleagues at the CDC.

Vitamin E acetate is derived from vitamin E, which is found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and leafy green veggies. It is available as a dietary supplement and skin treatment.

But when vaped and inhaled, this oil can harm lung cells, one respiratory expert has said.

“My understanding of vitamin E acetate, the oil, is that it needs to be heated to a very high temperature in order to be transformed into a vapor,” said Patricia Folan, who directs the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health, in Great Neck, N.Y.

“However, when an individual inhales the vapor into their lungs, the temperature in their lungs is lower, causing the substance to return to its oil state,” she added. “This in turn causes shortness of breath, lung damage and the respiratory illness being seen in [these] individuals.”

Dr. Teresa Murray Amato is chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, in New York City. She noted that, “once inhaled, oil can set off an inflammatory response that can lead to severe lung injury. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is one of the dreaded complications as it can lead to the need for intubation — placing a breathing tube — and being placed on a ventilator to assist in the respiratory effort.” In the most severe cases, ARDS can prove fatal, she added.

As of Thursday, the number of Americans stricken with severe lung illness tied to vaping had reached 2,051, the CDC reported.

That’s a rise from the 1,888 case total from a week ago.

Cases have been reported in every state except Alaska, the agency noted.

The related death toll has also risen by two over the past week, to 39 fatalities, spread across 24 states and the District of Columbia. Deaths have involved patients ranging from the ages of 17 to 75, with a median age of 53.

The CDC has noted that 86% of cases involved products that contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Young men are being especially affected, with 70% of patients being male and 79% under the age of 35.

In light of the most recent findings on vitamin E acetate, the CDC continues to recommend that people refrain from vaping.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about vaping and lung health.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

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Low Vitamin D Levels, Shorter Life?

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 20, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Young and middle-aged adults with low vitamin D levels may live shorter lives, a large study suggests.

The findings come from a 20-year follow-up of more than 78,000 Austrian adults. Researchers found that those with low vitamin D levels in their blood were nearly three times more likely to die during the study period than those with adequate levels.

When it came to the cause of death, vitamin D levels were most clearly linked to deaths from diabetes complications.

The findings were to be presented Friday at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, in Barcelona — and are considered preliminary. Experts said they do not prove that low vitamin D levels, per se, cut people’s lives short.

But the results add to a large body of evidence tying inadequate vitamin D to various health effects — beyond the long-recognized consequence of thinner, weaker bones. Studies have also pointed to higher risks of conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, certain cancers, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

“The role of vitamin D in the body appears to be more than simply assisting calcium absorption and bone health,” said Connie Diekman, a registered dietitian who was not involved in the study.

However, the research is “still evolving,” noted Diekman, who has served as president of the nonprofit Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That means it’s still unclear whether boosting your vitamin D intake — through food or pills — will prevent various diseases or lengthen your life.

In fact, a recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, yielded disappointing results: Researchers found that vitamin D supplements did not help prevent type 2 diabetes in people at high risk of the disease.

But that may be in part because supplements later in life might not be enough to prevent a disease, according to Dr. Rodrig Marculescu, the lead researcher on the current study.

Many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, get their start earlier in life, said Marculescu, of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria.

Continued

On the other hand, he said, vitamin D supplements might have more of an impact on the odds of dying from a disease.

His team found a clear relationship between blood vitamin D levels and the risk of early death — especially among people who were younger than 60: Those with levels of 10 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter) or less had almost a three-times higher risk of dying during the study, versus those with adequate levels (50 nmol/L).

In contrast, middle-aged and younger people with vitamin D levels at or above 90 nmol/L had a lower death risk than those at the 50 mark.

In general, vitamin D concentrations of 50 nmol/L or higher are considered to be high enough for overall health, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

When the researchers zeroed in on causes of death, it turned out that vitamin D levels showed only weak connections to heart disease and cancer. Instead, people with low levels (below 50) had a more than fourfold higher risk of dying from diabetes complications, versus those with adequate levels.

It’s not clear why. But, Marculescu said, there are plausible reasons that vitamin D levels would be particularly linked to diabetes: The vitamin, which acts as a hormone in the body, helps regulate the immune system. That’s relevant to type 1 diabetes, Marculescu noted, because it is an autoimmune disease.

Vitamin D is also important to the cells that produce the hormone insulin — which regulates blood sugar — and to the body’s sensitivity to insulin. That’s relevant to type 2 diabetes, Marculescu pointed out.

For now, he said, the findings “further strengthen the already very strong rationale for intensifying vitamin D supplementation, especially during childhood and at younger ages.”

Specifically, he pointed to recommendations from the Endocrine Society. They suggest that adults get 1,500 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day, while children and teenagers get 600 to 1,000 IU.

The body naturally synthesizes vitamin D when sunlight hits the skin, but cold climates — and concerns about sun exposure — can limit that source.

Diekman suggested that people have their blood vitamin D level checked. If it’s low, she said, talk to your doctor about how to boost it — whether through supplements or foods such as vitamin D-fortified dairy products, juice or cereal.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Rodrig Marculescu, M.D., associate professor, Medical University of Vienna, Austria; Connie Diekman, M.Ed., R.D., food and nutrition consultant, St. Louis, Mo.; Sept. 20, 2019, presentation, European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting, Barcelona, Spain

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

For One Man, Too Much Vitamin D Was Disastrous

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Vitamin D is the healthy “sunshine” vitamin, but it can have a dark side, one Canadian man discovered.

A team of Toronto physicians reported on the case of a 54-year-old man who developed kidney damage after taking extremely high doses of vitamin D.

It’s a cautionary tale for consumers, medical experts say.

“Although vitamin D toxicity is rare owing to a large therapeutic range, its widespread availability in various over-the-counter formulations may pose a substantial risk to uninformed patients,” said study co-author Dr. Bourne Auguste. He’s a clinical fellow in home dialysis at Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto.

As reported April 8 in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), the man was seen by doctors after he returned from a holiday in Southeast Asia, where he spent much of his time sunbathing. Vitamin D is naturally synthesized by the skin upon contact with sunlight.

Testing showed that the man had elevated blood levels of creatinine, a marker for kidney damage or malfunction. The patient was then referred to a kidney specialist and underwent further testing.

Doctors learned that the man had been prescribed high doses of vitamin D by a naturopath — even though he did not have vitamin D deficiency and no history of bone loss.

Over 30 months, the man had taken eight to 12 drops of vitamin D — a total of 8,000 to 12,000 International Units (IUs) — per day.

The typical recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 400 to 1,000 IU, with a higher amount (800 to 2,000 IU) recommended for adults at high-risk of osteoporosis, and for older adults.

The patient far exceeded those dosages, however, and that led to extremely high levels of calcium in his blood. It’s those high blood calcium levels that triggered his kidney damage, Auguste’s team said.

“Patients and clinicians should be better informed about the risks regarding the unfettered use of vitamin D,” the study authors concluded.

Dr. Maria DeVita directs nephrology (kidney medicine) at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Reading over the case report, she said that “overuse of the vitamin, as is true of many supplements, may have dire adverse effects.”

DeVita said, “Vitamin D is necessary for the development and maintenance of strong bones, [but] the take-home message is too much of a good thing is not good.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Maria DeVita, M.D., chief, nephrology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City;CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), news release, April 8, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Is Daily Vitamin D a Lifesaver for COPD Patients?

FRIDAY, Jan. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Deadly lung attacks may be averted in some COPD patients with a daily dose of vitamin D, new research suggests.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, includes a number of lung conditions, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Nearly all COPD deaths are due to a sudden worsening of symptoms (lung attacks), often triggered by viral upper respiratory infections, the researchers explained.

“New treatments are urgently needed to prevent COPD attacks. Our study shows that giving supplements to vitamin D-deficient COPD patients nearly halves their rate of potentially fatal attacks,” said lead researcher Adrian Martineau, a professor at Queen Mary University of London.

In the study, Martineau and his colleagues analyzed data from 469 COPD patients from three clinical trials, which took place in the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Taking vitamin D supplements was associated with a 45 percent reduction in lung attacks among patients who were deficient in vitamin D, but there was no reduction among patients with higher vitamin D levels, the investigators found.

The study was published Jan. 10 in the journal Thorax.

Vitamin D supplementation is safe and inexpensive, Martineau noted. “So this is a potentially highly cost-effective treatment that could be targeted at those who have low vitamin D levels following routine testing,” he said in a university news release.

“Around a fifth of COPD patients in the U.K. — about 240,000 people — have low levels of vitamin D,” Martineau added.

Worldwide, more than 170 million people have COPD, and the disease caused an estimated 3.2 million deaths in 2015.

The researchers pointed out that since the data in their study came from just three trials, the findings should be interpreted with a degree of caution.

Previous research from Queen Mary University found that vitamin D helps protect against colds, flu and asthma attacks.

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WebMD Health

Fish Oil, Vitamin D No Help for Heart Risk, Cancer

By Liz Szabo, Kaiser Health News

Nov. 12, 2018 — A widely anticipated study has concluded that neither vitamin D nor fish oil supplements prevent cancer or serious heart-related problems in healthy older people, according to research presented Saturday at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions. Researchers defined serious heart problems as the combined rate of heart attacks, stroke and heart-related deaths.

Although hundreds of studies of these supplements have been published over the years, the new clinical trial — a federally funded project involving nearly 26,000 people — is the strongest and most definitive examination yet, said Dr. Clifford Rosen, a senior scientist at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute who was not involved in the research.

Doctors have been keenly interested in learning the supplements’ true value, given their tremendous popularity with patients. A 2017 study found that 26 percent of Americans age 60 and older take vitamin D supplements, while 22 percent take pills containing omega-3 fatty acids, a key ingredient in fish oil.

The new study also suggests there’s no reason for people to undergo routine blood tests for vitamin D, said Rosen, who co-wrote an accompanying editorial. (Both were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.). That’s because the study found that patients’ vitamin D levels made no difference in their risk of cancer or serious heart issues, Rosen said. Even people who began the study with clear vitamin D deficiency got no benefit from taking the supplements, which provided 2,000 international units a day. This amount is equal to one or two of the vitamin D pills typically sold in stores.

A recent Kaiser Health News story reported that vitamin D testing has become a huge business for commercial labs — and an enormous expense for taxpayers. Doctors ordered more than 10 million vitamin D tests for Medicare patients in 2016 — an increase of 547 percent since 2007 — at a cost of $ 365 million.

“It’s time to stop it,” said Rosen of vitamin D testing. “There’s no justification.”

Dr. JoAnn Manson, the study’s lead author, agrees that her results don’t support screening healthy people for vitamin D deficiency.

Continued

But she doesn’t see her study as entirely negative.

Manson notes that her team found no serious side effects from taking either fish oil or vitamin D supplements.

“If you’re already taking fish oil or vitamin D, our results would not provide a clear reason to stop,” Manson said.

Manson notes that a deeper look into the data suggested possible benefits.

When researchers singled out heart attacks — rather than the rate of all serious heart problems combined — they saw that fish oil appeared to reduce heart attacks by 28 percent, Manson said. As for vitamin D, it appeared to reduce cancer deaths — although not cancer diagnoses — by 25 percent.

But slicing the data into smaller segments — with fewer patients in each group — can produce unreliable results, said Dr. Barnett Kramer, director of the cancer prevention division at the National Cancer Institute. The links between fish oil and heart attacks — and vitamin D and cancer death — could be due to chance, Kramer said.

Experts agree that vitamin D is important for bone health. Researchers didn’t report on its effect on bones in these papers, however. Instead, they looked at areas where vitamin D’s benefits haven’t been definitely proven, such as cancer and heart disease. Although preliminary studies have suggested vitamin D can prevent heart disease and cancer, more rigorous studies have disputed those findings.

Manson and her colleagues plan to publish data on the supplements’ effects on other areas of health in coming months, including diabetes, memory and mental functioning, autoimmune disease, respiratory infections and depression.

Consumers who want to reduce their risk of cancer and heart disease can follow other proven strategies.

“People should continue to focus on known factors to reduce cancer and heart disease: Eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, control high blood pressure, take a statin if you are high risk,” said Dr. Alex Krist, a professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

WebMD News from Kaiser Health News

©2013-2018 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


WebMD Health

Prenatal Vitamin D Pills Won’t Boost Baby’s Growth

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 9, 2018 (HealthDay News) — For pregnant women who are vitamin D-deficient, vitamin supplements won’t improve the growth of their fetus or infant, Canadian researchers report.

The study was done in Bangladesh, where vitamin D deficiency is common among women of reproductive age, and where 30 percent of newborns are small and the growth of 36 percent of infants under 5 is stunted.

Some studies have suggested that improving vitamin D levels might help babies’ growth by building bone and increasing an insulin-like growth factor, the researchers explained.

But this trial, using prenatal and postpartum vitamin D supplementation, showed it didn’t make a difference.

“At this time, the WHO [World Health Organization] does not recommend routine vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy,” the researchers concluded in the study. “The present findings support this position, even in communities where vitamin D deficiency and fetal-infant growth restriction are endemic.”

The research involved a team led by Dr. Daniel Roth from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, who randomly assigned 1,300 Bangladeshi women to receive various doses of vitamin D during their pregnancy. Some women received vitamin D supplements only during pregnancy, while others also received supplements for 26 weeks after giving birth. Another group of women were given a placebo.

Among more than 1,160 infants examined a year after being born, the investigators found no difference in their average size for their age, whether their mothers took vitamin D supplements or a placebo during pregnancy.

In addition, no difference was seen in other outcomes, such as calcium levels, vitamin D levels or maternal parathyroid hormone levels, the findings showed.

No significant side effects were seen among women taking vitamin D supplements. Some women taking the highest doses of the supplement, however, may have had high levels of calcium in their urine, which could lead to kidney stones, the study authors noted.

Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that although supplemental vitamin D doesn’t seem to help the baby, it may be beneficial to the mother.

Continued

“For women who are vitamin D-deficient and calcium-deficient, supplemental vitamin D can have an impact on their bones,” said Wu, who had no role in the study. “So we want to make sure the mother’s vitamin D levels are normal.”

Another expert also stressed the value of the vitamin.

“What this study says is that in Bangladeshi women, vitamin D supplementation from mid-pregnancy did not influence fetal or post-natal growth,” said Dr. Michael Grosso, chair of pediatrics at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.

But, he added, vitamin D is an important nutrient “with implications for bone metabolism and growth throughout childhood.”

Vitamin D is important for cell growth and neuromuscular and immune function, and to reduce inflammation, Grosso added.

“Negative studies are important, but each is only one building block in the scientific knowledge that underlies rational public policy and clinical practice,” he said.

The report was published Aug. 9 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Michael Grosso, M.D., chair, pediatrics and chief medical officer, Huntington Hospital, Huntington, N.Y.; Jennifer Wu, M.D., obstetrician-gynecologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Aug. 9, 2018,New England Journal of Medicine

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Vitamin D No Panacea for Brain Diseases

MONDAY, July 16, 2018 — Vitamin D does little to defend your brain against multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, a new review shows.

The finding is based on an analysis of more than 70 studies.

“Our work counters an emerging belief held in some quarters suggesting that higher levels of vitamin D can impact positively on brain health,” said study author Krystal Iacopetta, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Adelaide, in Australia.

“Past studies had found that patients with a neurodegenerative disease tended to have lower levels of vitamin D compared to healthy members of the population,” she explained in a university new release.

“This led to the hypothesis that increasing vitamin D levels, either through more UV [ultraviolet] and sun exposure or by taking vitamin D supplements, could potentially have a positive impact. A widely held community belief is that these supplements could reduce the risk of developing brain-related disorders or limit their progression,” Iacopetta said.

“The results of our in-depth review and an analysis of all the scientific literature, however, indicates that this is not the case and that there is no convincing evidence supporting vitamin D as a protective agent for the brain,” she said.

Study co-author Mark Hutchinson added, “We’ve broken a commonly held belief that vitamin D resulting from sun exposure is good for your brain.”

While vitamin D is essential for health, it “is not going to be the miracle ‘sunshine tablet’ solution for brain disorders that some were actively hoping for,” said Hutchinson, who is a professor at the University of Adelaide.

The study was published July 10 in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.

More information

The Harvard School of Public Health has more on vitamin D and health.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: July 2018

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

No Proof Vitamin D Lowers Blood Pressure in Pregnancy

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 27, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Taking vitamin D supplements does not reduce the risk of pregnancy-related high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia, a new study finds.

High blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is called gestational hypertension. Pre-eclampsia is the development of high blood pressure and elevated protein in urine during pregnancy. It can cause stroke, seizure, premature separation of the placenta from the uterus and even death.

Pregnant women commonly have low levels of vitamin D, which can suppress levels of the hormone that regulates blood pressure. As a result, the United States and many other countries advise pregnant women to take daily doses of vitamin D.

But the World Health Organization says there’s not enough evidence to support that advice.

Some studies have found that pregnant women with lower vitamin D levels are at greater risk for pre-eclampsia.

For this new study, researchers examined genetic data from thousands of pregnant women to gauge whether vitamin D affects the risk of gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia.

There was no evidence to support a direct effect of vitamin D levels on risk of gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia, according to the international team led by Maria Magnus. She is a senior research associate in epidemiology at the University of Bristol, in England.

The findings were published online June 20 in The BMJ.

The researchers said in a journal news release that additional studies with a larger number of women with pre-eclampsia or more genetic variants are needed.

“In combination with adequately powered clinical trials, this could help finally establish whether vitamin D status has a role in pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders,” the study authors concluded.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE:BMJ, news release, June 20, 2018

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

No Proof Vitamin D Lowers Blood Pressure in Pregnancy: Study

WEDNESDAY, June 27, 2018 — Taking vitamin D supplements does not reduce the risk of pregnancy-related high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia, a new study finds.

High blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is called gestational hypertension. Pre-eclampsia is the development of high blood pressure and elevated protein in urine during pregnancy. It can cause stroke, seizure, premature separation of the placenta from the uterus and even death.

Pregnant women commonly have low levels of vitamin D, which can suppress levels of the hormone that regulates blood pressure. As a result, the United States and many other countries advise pregnant women to take daily doses of vitamin D.

But the World Health Organization says there’s not enough evidence to support that advice.

Some studies have found that pregnant women with lower vitamin D levels are at greater risk for pre-eclampsia.

For this new study, researchers examined genetic data from thousands of pregnant women to gauge whether vitamin D affects the risk of gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia.

There was no evidence to support a direct effect of vitamin D levels on risk of gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia, according to the international team led by Maria Magnus. She is a senior research associate in epidemiology at the University of Bristol, in England.

The findings were published online June 20 in The BMJ.

The researchers said in a journal news release that additional studies with a larger number of women with pre-eclampsia or more genetic variants are needed.

“In combination with adequately powered clinical trials, this could help finally establish whether vitamin D status has a role in pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders,” the study authors concluded.

More information

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has more on high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: June 2018

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Vitamin D Deficiency Could Be Lung Disease Risk

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 25, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of a disease that causes lung inflammation and scarring, researchers say.

About 200,000 cases of interstitial lung disease (ILD) are diagnosed each year in the United States. Most cases are caused by environmental toxins such as asbestos or coal dust, but ILD also can be caused by autoimmune disorders, infections, or medication side effects. In some cases, the cause is unknown.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reviewed medical data collected on more than 6,000 adults over 10 years. They found that lower than normal blood levels of vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of early signs of ILD.

The findings suggest that low vitamin D might be one factor in the development of interstitial lung disease, according to the authors of the study. It was published June 19 in the Journal of Nutrition.

“We knew that the activated vitamin D hormone has anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate the immune system, which goes awry in ILD,” said study leader Dr. Erin Michos. She’s associate director of preventive cardiology at the university’s Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.

“There was also evidence in the literature that vitamin D plays a role in obstructive lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, and we now found that the association exists with this scarring form of lung disease, too,” Michos said in a university news release.

“Our study suggests that adequate levels of vitamin D may be important for lung health. We might now consider adding vitamin D deficiency to the list of factors involved in disease processes, along with the known ILD risk factors such as environmental toxins and smoking,” Michos said.

The researchers cautioned that the study results don’t prove a cause-and-effect link. However, the findings do support the need for future studies to investigate whether treatment of vitamin D deficiency, such as with supplements or sunlight exposure, could potentially prevent or slow the progression of the disorder.

There is no proven treatment or cure for ILD. Most people with the disease don’t live more than five years after diagnosis, the researchers said.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University, news release, June 19, 2018

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

Vitamin D May Guard Against Colon Cancer

FRIDAY, June 15, 2018 — The sun you get when you mow the lawn or run errands could protect you against colon cancer, new research shows.

How? Sunlight prompts the production of vitamin D, and people with sufficient levels of the vitamin had a 22 percent lower risk of colon cancer, said lead researcher Marjorie McCullough. She’s senior scientific director of epidemiology research for the American Cancer Society.

That risk also appears to decrease further as vitamin D levels rise, though the study did not prove that sunlight causes colon cancer risk to drop.

The chances of developing colon cancer decline about 19 percent in women and 7 percent in men for every incremental increase in blood vitamin D levels, the researchers found.

“It appeared across most of the range we were looking at, the relationship was linear,” McCullough said.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the United States, with about 140,250 new cases and 50,630 deaths expected during 2018, the researchers said in background notes.

About 1 in every 24 women and 1 in every 22 men will develop colon cancer during their lifetime, they said.

“It has long been postulated that vitamin D deficiency can cause other problems besides osteoporosis and immune system dysfunction,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who was not involved with the study.

“The suspicion that vitamin D deficiency might be responsible for the development of cancer is corroborated in this study, where vitamin D deficiency and colorectal cancer are linked,” Horovitz said.

Don’t start baking yourself to avoid colon cancer, however.

Only about 7 percent of the U.S. population have levels of vitamin D deficiency low enough to increase their risk of colon cancer, McCullough said.

“If you live in a sunny area year-round, or if you’re living in an area where the spring and summer months are warmer, your levels will be higher just incidentally,” McCullough said. “We do not recommend people seek sun exposure to raise their vitamin D levels, because UV radiation is a strong risk factor for skin cancer.”

Vitamin D has long been associated with bone health, but the nutrient hasn’t been recommended to protect against colon cancer or other health problems due to scant research, McCullough said.

When the U.S. National Academy of Medicine put out its vitamin D guidelines in 2011, it concluded that the medical evidence of vitamin D benefits for cancer were not sufficient enough to make a recommendation, she said.

To clear this up, McCullough and her colleagues combined data from 17 different studies involving 5,706 people with colon cancer and 7,107 healthy participants from the United States, Europe and Asia.

The researchers even reanalyzed blood samples from about a third of the participants, so they could perform a more direct apples-to-apples comparison across all of the 17 studies.

They concluded that vitamin D does indeed appear to provide protection against colon cancer, particularly for women.

Most people get enough vitamin D just by living their lives, McCullough said.

The sunlight you get from a casual walk down the street, running errands, and even walking from the car or train to your office building is sufficient to stimulate proper vitamin D production in your body, she said.

People also get vitamin D from fortified foods like milk, cereal and orange juice, and from fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout and swordfish, McCullough said.

Because of this, people shouldn’t rely on supplements to get their vitamin D, McCullough said. Heavy doses of vitamin D can be toxic.

“High-dose individual supplements are not recommended,” she said.

It’s not known exactly why vitamin D could protect against cancer, but researchers suspect the vitamin plays a role in controlling cell growth and promoting programmed cell death, McCullough said.

“Cancer occurs when there’s uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells,” she said. “Experimental studies have shown that vitamin D can help to limit proliferation of abnormal cells.”

The new study was published June 14 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health have more about vitamin D.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: June 2018

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When Treating Infertility, Vitamin D Levels May Be Key

MONDAY, Nov. 20, 2017 — Women with low vitamin D levels may be less likely to have a baby after assisted reproductive technology (ART) than those with normal vitamin D levels, a new study suggests.

The finding stemmed from a review of 11 published studies that involved a total of 2,700 women who were undergoing ART, which includes in vitro fertilization and frozen embryo transfer to achieve pregnancy.

The British researchers found that women with correct levels of vitamin D were 34 percent more likely to have a positive pregnancy test, 46 percent more likely to achieve a clinical pregnancy and a third more likely to have a live birth than women with low levels of vitamin D.

There was no link between vitamin D levels and miscarriage, according to the study, published Nov. 14 in the journal Human Reproduction.

The researchers, from the University of Birmingham, noted that just 26 percent of women in the studies had sufficient levels of vitamin D.

They also pointed out that the findings only show an association and do not prove that vitamin D supplements would improve a woman’s chances of having a baby after ART.

“Although an association has been identified, the beneficial effect of correction of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency needs to be tested by performing a clinical trial,” said study leader Dr. Justin Chu. He is an academic clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynecology.

“In the meantime, women who want to achieve a successful pregnancy should not rush off to their local pharmacy to buy vitamin D supplements until we know more about its effects,” Chu said in a university news release.

“It is possible to overdose on vitamin D, and this can lead to too much calcium building up in the body, which can weaken bones and damage the heart and kidneys,” he said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more on ART.

©2017 HealthDay.

All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2017

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High-Dose Vitamin D May Not Curb Kids’ Colds

       

By Robert Preidt

       

         HealthDay Reporter        

     

TUESDAY, July 18, 2017 (HealthDay News) — When it comes to vitamin supplements, more is not always better, according to a new study that found even high doses of vitamin D don’t protect children from colds in the winter.

“We may have just busted a myth,” said study leader Dr. Jonathon Maguire.

“Our findings do not support the routine use of high-dose vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of wintertime upper respiratory tract infections among healthy children,” added Maguire. He is a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine” vitamin, because human skin manufactures the nutrient upon contact with sunlight. It’s also found in certain foods, such as fatty fish.  But many people now take a daily vitamin D supplement, as well.

For the past 30 years, it’s been thought that vitamin D can help prevent or reduce the severity of colds and other respiratory tract infections in children, Maguire noted. But there’s been little clinical trial data to help doctors and parents make informed decisions, he said.

So how effective is this supplement for children?  To find out, the researchers had 350 healthy toddlers take the standard dose of vitamin D drops — 400 IU/day — as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children aged 1 to 5.

Another group of 350 healthy children received a high dose (2,000 IU/day) of the vitamin.

The youngsters began taking the vitamin D drops in the fall of one year and continued taking them until spring of the following year.

Children who took the standard dose had an average of 1.91 colds over the winter, compared with 1.97 colds among the children who received the high dose, the findings showed.

That difference is not statistically significant, Maguire said in a hospital news release.

Two pediatricians who reviewed the study had slightly different opinions on the findings, however.

Dr. Peter Richel agreed with the conclusions of the study. “Though the use of high-dose vitamin D is not harmful, I have never seen any conclusive evidence that it makes any difference in the management of upper respiratory infections — more commonly known as colds — in patients of any age,” he said. Richel directs pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

Continued

“In fact, I have often said that by giving patients high doses of vitamin D, we are simply making ‘expensive urine,’ ” since the nutrient passes through the system,  Richel added.  

But Dr. Michael Grosso, chair of pediatrics at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y., believes vitamin D supplementation might still have value.

While the study’s conclusions are “scientifically correct,” he cautioned that “the study does not prove that there is no effect of vitamin D for reducing upper respiratory infections.  Children with underlying health problems were not evaluated.  Children of other ages were not included.  Other dosing regimens were not compared.”

For his part,  Richel believes there is a simple and time-tested way to help prevent colds in kids.

“It is important to teach children — and adults — the importance of good hand hygiene, which is the most effective method of prevention,” he said.

The findings were published online July 18 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Peter L. Richel, M.D., chief, department of pediatrics, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, N.Y.; Michael Grosso, M.D., chair, pediatrics, and chief medical officer, Huntington Hospital, Huntington, N.Y.; St. Michael’s Hospital, news release, July 18, 2017

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Could a Daily Vitamin Curb Smog’s Health Effects?

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) — There’s a lot of evidence to show that breathing in dirty air can harm your heart. But a small new study suggests that daily vitamin B supplements might counteract that effect.

While two hours of exposure to concentrated air pollution had a negative effect on heart rate and levels of illness-fighting white blood cells, “these effects are nearly reversed with four-week B-vitamin supplementation,” according to study co-author Dr. Andrea Baccarelli. He’s chair of environmental health sciences at Columbia University in New York City.

One lung health expert was cautiously optimistic about the findings.

“It is interesting that pretreating with B vitamins may prevent some of the deleterious effects of exposure to this pollution,” said Dr. Alan Mensch, senior vice president of medical affairs at Northwell Heath’s Plainview Hospital in Plainview, N.Y.

“It must be kept in mind, however, that since this study only included 10 healthy patients, it might not be applicable to an entire population,” he added. Plus, preventing air pollution in the first place “takes precedent over developing methods to prevent its deleterious effects,” he said.

The new research involved 10 healthy nonsmokers, aged 18 to 60, who took a placebo for four weeks before being exposed to fine-particulate air pollution for two hours.

The “fine particulates” — microscopic specks — were 2.5 micrometers in diameter, the researchers said.

Inhalable particles that are “2.5 micrometers or smaller are potentially the most dangerous form of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep in the lungs and adjacent bloodstream,” Mensch explained. Once inhaled, “they can travel to various organs throughout the body,” he added, causing inflammation and ill effects on cardiovascular health.

“Populations exposed to high particulate-associated air pollution have increased heart attacks, lung cancer, DNA mutations, and premature births and deaths,” Mensch said.

Overall, fine-particle pollution contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, mainly through harm to the cardiovascular system. This type of air pollution is believed to be the most common trigger for heart attack, the study authors noted.

Continued

But could a simple daily vitamin supplement help curb this smog-linked damage?

To find out, Baccarelli’s group gave the 10 participants vitamin B supplements for four weeks before again exposing them to the fine-particle air pollution for another two hours.

This time, the vitamin B supplements were linked to a near-reversal of the negative effects of the pollution on the volunteers’ cardiovascular and immune systems, the researchers said. This included healthy changes in each person’s heart rate and their white blood cell levels.

Baccarelli stressed that preventing pollution should always be the first measure in safeguarding people’s health, however.

“Pollution regulation remains the backbone of public health protection against its cardiovascular health effects,” he said in a university news release. “Studies like ours cannot diminish — nor be used to underemphasize — the urgent need to lower air pollution levels to — at a minimum — meet the air-quality standards set forth in the United States and other countries.”

Another lung expert agreed that the vitamin supplements could help blunt the health effects of dirty air.

The new study is “evidence that vitamin B provides benefits against the development of atherosclerosis in healthy adults who are exposed to air pollution,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

While it remains unclear just how the supplement works in this regard, “this finding recommends vitamin B, which is of course safe and has no side effects, as a buffer against coronary artery disease,” Horovitz said.

The study was published online recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Alan Mensch, M.D., senior vice president of medical affairs,  Northwell Health’s Plainview and Syosset Hospitals, N.Y.;  Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Columbia University, news release, April 12, 2017

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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