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Vitamin D supplements do not improve bone health

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Vitamin D supplements are usually recommended for older adults to improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis. But, a review of 81 studies that included 53,537 participants published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found no bone benefits from taking the supplements.

The review showed vitamin D supplements had no significant impact on the risk of falls, total fractures or hip fractures. Nor did the supplements improve bone density. The dosage of vitamin D also did not seem to matter. There was no benefit with both high and low doses of vitamin D.

Vitamin D supplements are however beneficial for the prevention of rare conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of bones) in adults, which can occur due to vitamin D deficiency after a prolonged lack of exposure to sunlight.

“There is little justification to use vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health. This conclusion should be reflected in clinical guidelines,” the study concluded.

Ovary removal for fertility preservation found safe

Many survivors of childhood cancer may have to face infertility as a result of their medical treatment. Ovarian tissue cryopreservation (OTC), or removing the ovaries for fertility preservation, could be an option for them.

The findings of a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery have shown that it is safe to remove a single ovary for fertility preservation in girls as young as five months old.

The removed ovarian tissue is frozen in a process called cryopreservation.

Then when a woman is ready to have a child, the preserved tissue is implanted onto the remaining ovary, where it starts to function normally and enables natural pregnancy.

Another experimental technique is to allow the oocytes (immature eggs) in the ovary to mature into eggs for in-vitro fertilisation.

Over 130 live births have been documented in adult women who have undergone ovarian tissue cryopreservation.

However, women who have had ovarian tissue cryopreservation as girls have yet to give birth in the US. But, two such cases have been reported in Europe.

“The procedure can be done safely without delaying treatment for children facing cancer or other fertility-threatening diagnosis or treatment,” the study concluded.

Drink water to prevent urinary infections

Here is a simple solution for women who suffer frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)—drink more water.

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, women who upped their water intake had a significant reduction in recurrent UTIs.

Bladder infections are one of the most common infections in women. More than half of all women will experience a bladder infection in their lifetime. Among them, 27 per cent who have an infection will experience a secondary infection within six months, and 44 to 77 per cent will have a recurrence within a year.

The study included 140 premenopausal women who had experienced at least three episodes of UTIs in the previous year. The participants typically drank less than 1.5 litres of fluid a day.

During the year-long trial, half the women were asked to drink an additional 1.5 litres of water daily, while the other half continued their usual fluid intake.

Women who drank extra water experienced nearly 50 per cent fewer repeat bladder infections. While women who did not increase their water intake experienced an average of 3.2 UTIs during the study period, it fell to 1.7 for the women who increased their water intake.

There was also a significant reduction in antibiotic use among the women who drank more water, which in turn could help control antibiotic resistance.

Did You Know

Women who eat processed meats such as sausage and bacon regularly have a 9 per cent higher risk of breast cancer compared to those who don't.

International Journal of Cancer

Beware of fluctuations in your body

According to a South Korean study published in the journal Circulation, fluctuations in body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke even in healthy people.

The study was based on 6,748,773 people without a history of heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. All the participants had at least three health check-ups during an average of 5.5 years of follow up.

There were 54,785 deaths, 22,498 cases of stroke and 21,452 heart attacks during the study period.

High variability in each measurement was associated with a higher risk for all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke. Moreover, having multiple measures with high variability increased the risk significantly.

Those with the highest variability on all measurements had a 127 per cent greater risk of death from all causes; 43 per cent increased risk of heart attack; and 41 per cent higher risk of stroke.

The researchers also looked separately at the effect of changes on people whose measurements had either improved or worsened by more than 5 per cent.

Sleep-deprived driving is as risky as drunk driving

Not getting enough sleep can put you at risk for car crashes as much as drunk driving.

For the study published in the journal Sleep, the researchers analysed data on 6,845 road accidents.

Those who drove after getting fewer than seven hours of sleep a night were more likely to be in an accident.

Crash risk was highest for those who slept fewer than four hours a night. They were more than 15 times more likely to be responsible for the car accident than those who got seven to nine hours of sleep. They had about the same odds of crashing as a driver with a blood alcohol concentration roughly 1.5 times the legal limit. They were also 3.4 times more likely to be involved in single-vehicle crashes, which have a much higher risk for injury or death.

Drivers who had slept for four to six hours the night before were up to 2.9 times more likely to cause the accident. Recent changes in sleep and work schedule, and driving three hours or more without stopping also increased the risk of crashing.

“Being awake is not the same as being alert. Falling asleep is not the only risk. Even if they manage to stay awake, sleep-deprived drivers are still at increased risk of making mistakes—like failing to notice something important, or misjudging a gap in traffic—which can have tragic consequences,” said the study author.

Did You Know

Hugs can take the edge off of interpersonal conflicts and help improve relationships and promote better mental wellbeing. Receiving a hug on a day of conflict was associated with a smaller drop in positive emotions and a smaller increase in negative emotions.

PLOS ONE

Storing insulin at the wrong temperature affects quality

Many diabetic patients are storing insulin at the wrong temperature in their refrigerators, which might affect the quality and effectiveness of the hormone.

For the study presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Annual Meeting, the researchers examined the temperature at which insulin was stored in domestic refrigerators or carried around by 388 people with diabetes.

The ideal temperature to store insulin in a refrigerator is two to eight degrees Celsius. If carried in a pen or vial, it must be stored between two and 30 degrees Celsius.

Temperature sensors, which were kept in the participants’ refrigerators or in their diabetes bags, took measurements automatically 480 times a day, for 49 days, and sent them to a database through an app.

Of 400 temperature logs, 315 (79 per cent) fell outside the recommended temperature range.

The insulin was stored in the refrigerator at improper temperatures 11 per cent of the time, or about 2 hours and 34 minutes each day. However, insulin carried by patients fell outside of the recommended range only eight minutes per day.

“For people living with insulin-dependent diabetes who take insulin several times a day via injections or continuously administer insulin with a pump, precise dosing is essential to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes,” said the study author.

Type 2 diabetes increases cancer risk

Having type 2 diabetes increases your risk of developing certain cancers.

The study, presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting, tracked 4,57,473 people with type 2 diabetes over seven years. The study focused on 12 types of cancer.

Among them, 2,27,505 people developed cancer during the study period.

People with diabetes had a higher risk of developing 11 of the 12 specific types of cancer that were investigated in the study—liver cancer (231per cent); pancreatic cancer (119 per cent); uterine cancer (78 per cent); penile cancer (56 per cent); kidney cancer (45 per cent); gallbladder and bile duct cancer (32 per cent); stomach cancer (21 per cent); bladder cancer (20 per cent); colorectal cancer (20 per cent) and breast cancer (5 per cent).

Additionally, people with type 2 diabetes had a 29 per cent higher risk of dying from prostate cancer; 25 per cent higher risk of dying from breast cancer and a 9 per cent higher risk of dying from colon cancer, compared to those without diabetes.

“With the number of people with type 2 diabetes doubling over the past 30 years, our findings underscore the importance of improving diabetes care. Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are important factors in diabetes prevention, and, furthermore, cancer prevention,” said the study author.

Did You Know

Forty eight per cent of all women and 36 per cent of all men aged over 45 are at risk of developing stroke or degenerative neurological diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s over their lifetime.

Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

A-fib increases risk of dementia

People with a common heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation (A-fib) have an increased risk of developing dementia, says a Swedish study. But, it is not all bad news. People with A-fib can reduce their risk of dementia by taking anticoagulants, or blood thinners.

The study published in the journal Neurology was based on 2,685 participants, average age 73. The participants had a medical exam at the start of the study and again after six years for those younger than 78, or once every three years for people older than that.

None of them had dementia at baseline, but 9 per cent (243) had A-fib. Over nine years of follow up, another 279 people developed A-fib, and 399 people developed dementia.

Cognitive function, including thinking and memory skills, deteriorated more rapidly for A-fib patients. They also had a 40 per cent higher chance of developing dementia and an 88 per cent higher risk of vascular and mixed dementias compared to those with healthy hearts.

Of the 522 people with A-fib, 121 (23 per cent) developed dementia. Of the 2,163 participants without A-fib, 278 (10 per cent) developed dementia.

However, those with A-fib who took blood thinners had a 60 per cent lower risk of developing dementia compared to those who did not take this medication: 11 per cent of those who took anti-clot drugs developed dementia compared to 22 per cent of those who did not take them.

Deadly bacteria lurking in your cash

Tests conducted by researchers at London Metropolitan University have found that our notes and coins are riddled with 19 different types of bacteria, including two potentially life-threatening bacteria, staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and enterococcus faecium (VRE), both known to be resistant to antibiotics and difficult to treat.

The money also contained the airborne bacteria listeria. People who are sick and have compromised immune systems are the most vulnerable.

“If you are visiting people in hospital who might be vulnerable to infection, you could unknowingly transfer bacteria off your cash, which is resistant to antibiotics,” the researchers cautioned. “One of the most shocking discoveries was finding so many microorganisms thriving on metal, an element on which you would not normally expect to see germs. The bugs have adapted to their environment, resulting in coins becoming a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.”

The researchers recommend washing hands after handling money to prevent the spread of these deadly bacteria. Using cards and smartphones for payments could also be a better option.

CONTRIBUTOR: SHYLA JOVITHA ABRAHAM

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