Tag Archives: University of Aberdeen

Link Between Vitamin D Insufficiency and Asthma Severity

In a study of more than 600 Costa Rican children, serum levels of vitamin D were inversely linked to several indicators of allergy and asthma severity, including hospitalizations for asthma, use of inhaled steroids and total IgE levels, providing evidence for a link between vitamin D insufficiency and asthma severity.

While previous in vitro studies have suggested that vitamin D may affect how airway cells respond to treatment with inhaled steroids, this is the first in vivo study of vitamin D and disease severity in children with asthma.

The researchers recruited 616 children with asthma living in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, a country known to have a high prevalence of asthma. Each child was assessed for allergic markers, including both allergen-specific and general sensitivity tests, and assessed for lung function and circulating vitamin D levels. Children whose forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) exceeded 65 percent of the predicted value were also tested for airway reactivity.

They found that children with lower vitamin D levels were significantly more likely to have been hospitalized for asthma in the previous year, tended to have airways with increased hyperactivity and were likely to have used more inhaled corticosteroids, all signifying higher asthma severity. These children were also significantly more likely to have several markers of allergy, including dust-mite sensitivity.

“To our knowledge this is the first study to demonstrate an inverse association between circulating levels of vitamin D and markers of asthma severity and allergy,” wrote Juan Celedón and Augusto Litonjua, study authors. “While it is difficult to establish causation in a cross-sectional study such as this, the results were robust even after controlling for markers of baseline asthma severity.”

“This study suggests that there may be added health benefits to vitamin D supplementation” said Dr. Celedón. Current recommendations for optimal vitamin D levels geared toward preserving bone health, such as preventing rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.

“This study also provides epidemiological support for a growing body of in vitro evidence that vitamin D insufficiency may worsen asthma severity, and we suspect that giving vitamin D supplements to asthma patients who are deficient may help with their asthma control” wrote Drs. Celedón and Litonjua, noting that a clinical trial should be the next step in this research. “Whether vitamin D supplementation can prevent the development of asthma in very young children is a separate question, which will be answered by clinical trials that are getting under way,” he said.

A complication is that vitamin D, unlike most other nutrients, is primarily synthesized in the body rather than consumed. Because about 90 percent of circulating vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sun exposure, deficiency is often related to behavioral issues rather than an inadequate dietary intake. Increased time spent indoors, increased use of sunscreen and sun-protective clothing all lead to decreased levels of vitamin D.

Obtaining sufficient vitamin D from natural food sources alone can be difficult. In some people, dietary supplements might be required to meet the daily need for vitamin D.

“Ultimately, it is only by investigating the effects of vitamin D in doses at, and above, those currently recommended that decisions can be made on the optimal intake of vitamin D and the possible prevention and treatment of asthma,” wrote Graham Devereux, M.D., of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Aberdeen.

Source:Elements4Health

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Why We Never Forget How to Ride a Bicycle

Ever wondered why we don’t forget how to ride a bike? Well, researchers from the University of Aberdeen claim to have found an answer to the  question.
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Lead researcher Dr Peer Wulff has discovered a key nerve cell in the cerebellum section of the brain that controls skills such as riding a bicycle, skiing, or even eating with chopsticks, reports the Daily Express.

This nerve cell monitors electrical signals that leave the cerebellum and transform them for storage in other parts of the brain.

The “gatekeeper” cell helps brain to remember newly learnt coordination skills.

The researchers hope that the new discovery could pave way for creating artificial devices to mimic normal brain functions and benefit those who have suffered brain disorders.

Source: The Times Of India

Arthritis Therapies ‘Ineffective’

Most complementary therapies used by people with rheumatoid arthritis are not effective, a study has suggested.

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The Arthritis Research Campaign looked at the scientific evidence available for 40 treatments.

Two thirds of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and a fifth of treatments for osteoarthritis were found to be ineffective by the researchers.

The Arthritis Research Campaign said it wanted people who used the therapies to know what evidence was available.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation of the lining (synovium) of the joints.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of protective tissue called cartilage in the joints. Inflammation results when the unprotected bones of the joint begin to rub together.

It most commonly affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips, and spine.

In total, 60% of people with arthritis are thought to use some form of complementary medicine.

Antler velvet

The researchers looked at compounds taken by the mouth or applied to the skin.

Effectiveness is measured by improvements in pain, movement or general well-being.

When the researchers examined treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, they found 13 out of 21 complementary medicines were shown to have no or little effect based on the available evidence.

The 13 were: antler velvet powder, blackcurrant seed oil, collagen, eazmov (a herbal mixture), feverfew (herb), flaxseed oil, green-lipped mussels, homeopathy, reumalex herbal mixture, selenium, the Chinese herb tong luo kai bi, vitamins A, C and E, and willow bark.

However, fish body oil was given five out of five in the report, for being effective in reducing joint pain and stiffness.

In addition, six out of 27 treatments for osteoarthritis were shown to have little or no effect based on the available evidence

Capsaicin gel, made from chilli peppers, proved most effective in relieving pain and joint tenderness.

But the effectiveness of glucosamine, a popular supplement used by people with OA which costs around £10 a month, which researchers have previously said was ineffective, again called into question.

For fibromyalgia, which causes widespread pain in muscles and joints, only four products were assessed, none were found to be highly effective with three medicines scoring two out of five, and the fourth just one.

Side effects

The researchers also examined how safe compounds were.

One – thunder god vine, a traditional Chinese medicine – was given a “red” classification, meaning there were serious safety concerns.

A quarter of the compounds were given an “amber” safety classification, because there were some reported side-effects.

The team said they were unable to evaluate the effectiveness of 36 therapies, including basil, green tea, sarsaparilla and St John’s Wort because there was insufficient data.

Professor Gary Macfarlane, from the University of Aberdeen, said while different things worked for different people, “it is useful to also have the scientific evidence available and just as important to know how safe we think they are to use.”

Professor Alan Silman, the Arthritis Research Campaign’s medical director, added: “We didn’t start this saying this was our opportunity to knock complementary medicines.

“The message is not ‘don’t take them’. The message is ‘if you are going to take them, be aware of what the level of evidence is’.”

Dr Peter Fisher, clinical director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, said the report focused on tablets and preparations applied to the skin, missing out therapies such as acupuncture and osteopathy.

“I think what really comes across in this report is how sorely under-researched this area is,” he said.

Jane Gray, president, of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists added: “This report is a commendable attempt to provide information on self help products for osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.”

Sources: BBC NEWS:

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