NSAIDs help prevent prostate cancer

Daily use of aspirin or another of the class of pain relievers known as NSAIDs could help prevent prostate cancer in older men, say Mayo Clinic researchers. Their study found less than half as many cancers in men who took the drugs on a regular basis than in those who did not.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, affecting about 189,000 men every year. It is also the second leading cause of death from cancer among men.

While new and better detection methods are allowing the disease to be identified at earlier and more treatable stages, these methods do not help prevent the condition. Studies are currently underway to determine the effect of several substances, including selenium, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, and green tea, on prostate cancer risk.

The Mayo scientists decided to study the impact of NSAIDs — nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — on prostate cancer after other studies linked the drugs to a reduced risk of other cancers. They analyzed data on about 1,300 men participating in a study of urinary tract symptoms. The men were enrolled in the study in 1990 and followed for an average of six years. Information on daily medication use was gathered throughout the study.

The study found 4 percent of the men who reported daily NSAID use developed prostate cancer by the end of the follow up. This compares to 9 percent of those who reported no regular NSAID use. The link between NSAID use and a reduced risk of prostate cancer was more significant in men over age 60.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2002;77:219-225

Can we get too much of Vitamin D?

BALTIMORE (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Vitamin D is hailed by many as the wonder vitamin. It can boost your immune system, ward off osteoporosis, help lower your blood pressure. But can it lower your risk for cancer?

Vitamin D: not enough of it can make us sick, but can we get too much of a good thing?

The latest study released by Mercy Medical Center shows that despite high hopes, vitamin D does not protect against non-Hodgkin lymphoma or cancers of the endometrial, esophagus, stomach, kidney, ovary or pancreas. Not only that, but vitamin D may actually cause a higher risk for one particular cancer.

“In pancreatic cancer, in high levels there’s an increase risk,” Dr. Helzlsouer said.

Dr. Helzlsouer says one major problem is people who are vitamin d deficient start taking prescription strength — and don’t stop when their levels reach normal.

Colon cancer is one cancer that the study did show vitamin D may have as positive effect on. The current recommended daily intake of vitamin D ranges from 200 international units to 600 units, depending on age.

Fish oil, Vitamin D, Vitamins C and E and other antioxidants

Fish oil

What you need to know – It has a reputation as a heart helper. Evidence supports the idea that higher intake of fish or fish-oil supplements, with their omega-3 fatty acids, probably reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke and may slow the progression of hardening of the arteries in people with existing heart disease. Omega-3s might also boost mood and help prevent certain cancers, cognitive decline, and eye disease.

Who should consider it People who have heart disease.

How much to take One gram daily, so you’ll probably need several capsules. Other people can generally get enough omega-3s by eating two or more weekly servings of fatty fish such as salmon.

Vitamin D

What you need to know – Calcium might get credit for bone strength, but it’s vitamin D that helps the body take in and use it. Research has found that the combo might help reduce falls in people who are D-deficient and also cut bone loss in people taking corticosteroids. In addition, higher levels of vitamin D have been linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and heart attack, plus a stronger immune system.

Who should consider it – The sun’s rays help convert a chemical in the skin to vitamin D, but most people still need more, especially those who don’t get much midday sun, who (wisely) use sunscreen, and who live in areas where the sun isn’t intense enough to stimulate D production in winter. Being middle-aged or overweight or having darker skin can also make it difficult to get enough D.

How much to take – Experts suggest getting 800 to 1,000 international units (IU) daily. Few foods are naturally good sources, and even fortified cereal or orange juice usually has only about 100 IU per serving.

Vitamins C and E and other antioxidants

What you need to know – People who eat a lot of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk of certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases. For many years, scientists have tried to replicate those results using antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and other plant chemicals. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t panned out. In an analysis of 67 antioxidant trials involving 230,000 people, the only positive result uncovered was a reduced mortality risk in some of the selenium trials. Vitamin C appeared to have no effect, and beta-carotene and vitamins A and E were actually associated with an increased risk of death.

Who should consider it – People with mid- to late-state age-related macular degeneration, a progressive eye disease that causes vision loss, might be able to slow its progress with certain supplements. Consider them if you have the disease or a strong family history. What about the popular advice to take vitamin C at the first sign of sniffles? Some studies show a modest reduction in symptoms, but the levels tested – 1 to 8 grams daily – can cause intestinal upset and diarrhea in some people.

How much to take – If you have macular degeneration, ask your eye doctor about antioxidant supplements.

Truth About Women Taking Supplements

10 of the most popular vitamins, minerals, and herbs, and what they can – and can’t – do for you

It seems like a no-brainer: Pop a pill and – poof! – you can be on your way to stronger bones, a healthier heart, and thicker hair. Some supplement manufactures make it sound so simple. Not surprisingly, we’ve given up a lot during the recession, but we’re still downing vitamins and other supplements. We now spend more than $26 billion on them annually.

Taking supplements can be a smart move. Most American women, for example, fall short on calcium, and three-quarters of all Americans are low on vitamin D. But based on the analysis of research on 10 popular supplements many women take, some of the stuff you’re swallowing might be a waste of money – multivitamin included, which haven’t yet been shown to improve the health of the average person.

Many claims are overblown and unsubstantiated. Although supplements makers are legally bared from making durglike promises, some do anyway – and supplements don’t’ have to go through the same rigorous process as drugs to be proved safe and effective. Some ingredients have been linked to serious health risks or might cause dangerous interactions. If you take a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin and generic), for example, fish oil, ginger, ginkgo biloba, and other supplements can thin the blood, and other supplements can be risky because they can thin the blood, too. So ask your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking anything new.

What you need to know about Calcium

Calcium is an essential bone builder. It can also help with some PMS symptoms, and some early evidence indicates that it might do more for you, too – such as help lower the risk of colon cancer and possibly reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

Who should consider it – Many people, even those who regularly consume the recommended three daily servings of dairy products. It’s still a challenge to get enough calcium.

Howe much to take – For women younger than 50 the recommended daily intake is 1,000 milligrams, (A typical serving of dairy contains 200 to 400 milligrams). Women older than 500 need 1,200 milligrams daily; 9- to 18-year-olds are actively building bone and need 1,300 milligrams. Also, you should take it with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. If you take more than 500 milligrams, split the dose and take it at separate times during the day to improve absorption and minimize side effects such as bloating, constipation, and gas. And be sure to read labels; many foods are packed with extra calcium these days, so it’s easy to get too much. More than 2,500 milligrams daily can block the absorption of other nutrients and cause kidney problems.

Vitamin D Functions

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps control the level of calcium and phosphorus in the blood to help the body build and maintain strong bones and teeth. It also helps increase the body’s absorption of calcium.

Recent research suggest that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D (even more than currently recommended) can help protect against osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

The two main sources of vitamin D include the diet and sunlight.

Dietary

Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods, most notably in fish. Most vitamin D we consume, however, comes from fortified foods including milk, margarine, and ready-to-eat cereal.

Sunlight

Vitamin D (in the form of vitamin D3, the kind found in foods) can be made in the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from sunlight for as little as 10 or 15 minutes.

Deficiencies and Excesses

Some people are at high risk for not getting or making enough vitamin D to meet their daily needs. These include:

• Older people
• People with dark skin
• Obese people
• Infants who are exclusively breastfed
• People who live in environments or climates in which sunlight is limited
• People with certain conditions that limit absorption of fat, such as cystic fibrosis and Crohn’s disease
• People who follow vegetarian or vegan diets and avoid fish, fish oils, and D-fortified dairy and other foods like milk and orange juice.

Without enough vitamin D, blood levels of calcium and phosphate can get too low, which can cause the body to produce hormones that release calcium and phosphate from the bones, causing bones to soften and weaken. In children, a vitamin D deficiency causes rickets. In adults, it causes osteomalacia.

Too much vitamin D from supplements can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite and weight loss, weakness, confusion, altered heart rhythm, and calcium and phosphate deposits in soft tissues. However, D toxicity is now believed to be much less likely than previously believed unless intake routinely exceeds the 1,000 to 2,000 IU a day that experts now recommend.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that causes endocrine glands (organs that make and secrete hormones into the bloodstream) to malfunction. Mucus becomes thick and sticky and damages other body organs and can lead to serious problems with the lungs, pancreas, and digestive system.

Crohn’s disease is a lifelong inflammatory bowel disease that causes swelling and ulcers (deep sores) in the intestinal tract.

Rickets is a bone disease that occurs in infants and children who have a vitamin D deficiency; symptoms include soft, bendable bones.

Osteomalacia is a bone disease caused by a vitamin D deficiency in adulthood; bones foten and cause bowed legs and curvature of the spine.

Vitamin D Help on Disease Prevention

Can vitamin D help with the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)? Will vitamin D supplementation delay the progression of MS in someone who has MS?

Patients with multiple sclerosis are often vitamin D deficient. Since vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness, correcting their vitamin D deficiency significantly improves overall muscle function. If you have multiple sclerosis, there is no reason not to have your vitamin D status checked, be treated for your vitamin D deficiency, and prevent the recurrence of vitamin D deficiency.

In milk to moderate cases of osteopenia (the prelude to osteoporosis), would taking adequate vitamin D and calcium be enough to prevent osteoporosis, thus eliminating need for osteoporosis medications?

May men and women who present with milk or moderate osteopenia are vitamin D deficient and calcium deficient. It is recommended that the calcium be taken in two or three divided doses, rather than all at once, because it will be more bioavailable. The vitamin D can be taken any time.

Does vitamin D have any association with scoliosis in adolescent girls? Can vitamin D supplementation help correct spinal curvature?

It’s not aware of any association between scoliosis and vitamin D deficiency in adolescent girls. However, many adolescent girls are vitamin D deficient, and to maximize their bone health, they should be receiving an adequate amount of vitamin D and calcium. But vitamin D supplementation will not correct spinal curvature. Unfortunately, this is a permanent deformity. But if the vitamin D deficiency is exacerbating the spinal curvature, correcting vitamin D deficiency may help prevent further curvature from occurring. Keep in mind that vitamin D will also improve muscle strength; a study out of Lebanon showed that 2,000 IU a day to girls ten to seventeen years old did just that. Another recent study, which examined the influence of vitamin D levels on bone mass, bone turnover, and muscle strength in 301 healthy Chinese adolescent girls, also confirmed the importance of adequate vitamin D in reaching peak bone mass and muscle strength.

Would the recommendation be the same for Down’s syndrome and intellectual disability patients?

It is recommended that children over one year and adults receive at least 1,400 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day if they are not getting adequate exposure to sunlight. This also applies to patients with Down’s syndrome and with intellectual disabilities.

I have primary hyperparathyroidism and my calcium is elevated and I am vitamin D deficient. My doctor says taking vitamin D will increase my calcium level and therefore I should avoid vitamin D. True?

This is not true. Two studies have proved that, if anything, your parathyroid hormone and calcium levels will be improved by correcting the vitamin D deficiency.

I have sarcoidosis and my doctor says I should not take vitamin D because it could cause my calcium to elevate above normal. True?

It is true that excessive exposure to sunlight or taking too much vitamin D can cause the macrophages in the sarcoid tissue to make too much activated vitamin D. however, patients should not remain vitamin D deficient, because that can cause muscle weakness and symptoms of osteomalacia (aches and pains in bones and muscles).

I have kidney disease and am on dialysis. My doctor said that since my kidneys cannot make activated vitamin D from 25-vitamin D, there is no need for me to take vitamin D to maintain my blood levels of 25-vitamin D above 30 nanograms per milliliter. Is this correct?

No. the National Kidney Foundation recommend that all patients with kidney failure – even patients with no kidneys – should maintain 25-vitamin D levels of 30 to 100 nanograms per milliliter.

What about people who have a vitamin D receptor (VDR) defect and need more vitamin D?

Patients who have a VDR defect can sometimes benefit by increasing their vitamin D intake. It depends upon the severity of the alteration in the VDR gene. Patients with the VDR gene mutation known as vitamin D-resistant rickets or vitamin D-dependent rickets type II will sometimes benefit from being treated not only with vitamin D but also with the active form of vitamin D.

I take medications that make me extra sensitive to the sun. What should I do?

If you cannot expose yourself to the sun for any amount of time, then supplementation is key. Ami to take 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day year-round. This can be in addition to any multivitamins containing vitamin D, vitamin D-fortified foods and beverages, and vitamin D-rich fish you consume.

A lot of women are being given gabapentin for hot flashes instead of estrogen. Can it lower 25-vitamin D levels?

It is not known that whether gabapentin (brand name Neurontin or Gabarone) used for treating hot flashes will lower 25-vitamin D levels. However, we do know that many drugs will enhance the destruction of vitamin D in the body. Thus, at a minimum taking at least 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day and having your blood level of 25-vitamin D monitored.

The current recommendation of 400IU of vitamins D per day may not be enough to prevent vitamin D deficiency during the winter months. USANA’S supplement has 2000 IU of vitamin D per tablet.