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Health Updates 5 July 2012

  • High dose vitamin D prevents fractures: “High doses of vitamin D prevent fractures in older people — as long as they take the substance regularly, researchers reported.  In a meta-analysis, oral doses of at least 800 IU were associated with reductions in the risk of both hip and nonvertebral fractures, according to Heiki Bischoll-Ferrari, MD, DrPH,  of the University Hospital in Zurich, and colleagues.  The analysis differs from previous studies and other meta-analyses in that it looked at how much vitamin D participants actually took, rather than what dose they were assigned to take….Fractures are common in older people and one strategy to prevent them might be vitamin D supplements, the researchers noted, but studies of the issue have been inconsistent.  To try to clarify the matter, they looked for all controlled studies of oral vitamin D, with or without calcium, among people 65 and older.  They included 12 studies and had participant-level data on 30,011 volunteers.  The primary end points were the risks of hip fracture and any nonvertebral fracture, and the primary analyses compared the actual intake of vitamin D supplementation, in quantities, to the controls, with actual intake calculated as the assigned dose plus any additional supplemental dose, adjusted for adherence.  The study design is important, because it takes into account the biology of vitamin supplementation…”. (Michael Smith, MedPage Today)
  • First over-the-counter HIV test approved: “The first over-the-counter test to detect antibodies to the virus that causes AIDS has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration,  the agency said Tuesday.  The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test allows anonymous users to swab the upper and lower gums and obtain results within 40 minutes, the FDA said in a news release.  A positive result does not mean the test user is necessarily infected with HIV, but that additional testing should be done by a medical professional, the agency said.  Similarly, a negative result does not guarantee that the test user is not infected with HIV, particularly if possible exposure to the virus has come within the prior three months, the FDA warned.   Some 1.2 million people in the United States are infected with HIV, and about one-in-five is not aware that they’re infected, the FDA said, citing estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  About 50,000 people are newly infected each year, the FDA said.  The test is produced by OraSure Technologies, based in Bethlehem, Penn.  A clinical version of the test for use in professional settings was approved in 2004. (HealthDay)
  • Young athletes face unhealthy food choices, parents say: “Children who play organized sports often consume unhealthy foods and beverages, a new study finds.  University of Minnesota researchers interviewed the parents of 60 youth basketball players and fund that the youngsters commonly had sweets, such as candy, ice cream and doughnuts; pizza; hot dogs; salty snacks, such as chips, nachos and cheese puffs; and soda and sports drinks.  The parents also reported frequent visits to fast-food restaurants when their children were playing sports.  Although the parents agreed that these foods and beverages are unhealthy, they said rushing to practices and games made them rely more on these types of products due to their convenience.  The researchers also found that parents had difficulty determining whether certain foods and drinks with healthy, and had doubts about whether it was feasible for concession stands at youth sports venues to offer healthy choices.  The study was published in the July/August issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.  ‘The food environment in youth sports exposes kids and their families to many unhealthful foods and beverages and few healthful options,’ principal investigator Toben Nelson said in a journal news release.  ‘Youth who participate in sports spend considerable time in these activities outside of school, and these sports environments are likely to influence their eating behavior’.  The researchers suggested many ways to promote healthy eating in children who play sports, including integrating nutrition education into youth sports programs and finding ways to improve the nutritional quality of food available at youth sports venues.” (MedlinePlus)
  • Health tip: Have Your Headaches Evaluated  “Headaches, especially when they occur suddenly and frequently, can signal a serious condition that requires more than an over-the-counter pain reliever.  The Womenshealth.gov says your doctor should evaluate your head painif you:
    • Have headaches that occur several times per month and last for hours, or even days, at a time.
    • Have headaches that interfere with school, work or home.
    • Have headaches accompanied by vision changes, vomiting or nausea, numbness or tingling.
    • Have headaches that cause pain around an ear or eye.
    • Have headaches that are severe and are accompanied by a stiff neck.
    • Have headaches accompanied by confusion, loss of alertness or convulsions.
    • Have frequent headaches all of a sudden, when headaches used to be rare. (womenshealth.gov/HHS)
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