Health updates

The following is new information regarding vitamin D and its affects on artery disease, and using urine to diagnose disease.

Vitamin D guards against artery disease

Vitamin D may protect against peripheral artery disease (PAD), a disease in which fatty deposits restrict blood flow to the limbs. PAD most often reduces blood flow to the legs, causing pain and numbness. It can impair the ability to walk and, in some cases, lead to amputation. Scientists found that people with low blood levels of vitamin D experience an increased risk for the condition. The researchers based the findings on a U.S. government health survey involving almost 5,000 adults who underwent PAD assessment and had their blood vitamin D levels measured. The 25 percent of people with the lowest vitamin D levels were 80 percent more likely to have PAD than those in the highest 25 percent.

Medieval beliefs about urine may contain drops of truth

Medieval physicians believed they could diagnose disease by holding up a flask of a patient’s urine to the light and squinting at it. Now, scientists at Imperial College London believe those ancient doctors could have been on to something.

Researchers have completed the first worldwide study of the metabolites (breakdown products) found in urine, reflecting the diet, inheritance and the lifestyle of the people from whom it came. They call such studies metabolomics.

The team believes the research may provide the basis for a “metabolome-wide association” approach to helping understand interactions between lifestyles, environment and genes, and how they determine diseases. For instance, the team has identified metabolites that are linked to high blood pressure, and others found in people with lower blood pressure who drink less and eat more fiber.


Sources: Reuters April 16, 2008; Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology April 16, 2008; Times Online April 21, 2008; and Nature April 20, 2008.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 5, October/November 2008.

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