Higher levels of Vitamin D among women may reduce their risk of developing breast cancer post menopause, claimed a new study.
The study found that women with blood levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (OH) — the main form of vitamin D in blood — above 60 ng/ml (nanograms per millilitre) had one-fifth the risk of breast cancer compared to those with less than 20 ng/ml.
Thus, researchers from the University of California-San Diego determined that the minimum healthy level of 25(OH) in blood plasma should be 60 ng/ml, instead of the earlier recommended higher than the 20 ng/ml.
“Increasing Vitamin D blood levels substantially above 20 ng/ml appears to be important for the prevention of breast cancer,” said lead author Sharon McDonnell from GrassrootsHealth, a non-profit public health research organisation.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, analysed data from two randomised clinical trials with 3,325 combined women and a prospective study involving 1,713 women with average age of 63.
Participants were free of cancer at enrollment and were followed for a mean period of four years. Vitamin D levels in blood were measured during study visits.
“This study was limited to postmenopausal breast cancer. Further research is needed on whether high 25(OH)D levels might prevent premenopausal breast cancer,” said Cedric F. Garland from UC-San Diego. (IANS.)
In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users.
Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate.
Influenza results in 650,000 deaths worldwide annually. And approximately 7 per cent of working adults and 20 per cent of children aged under five years get flu each year.
“Responding more quickly to influenza outbreaks can prevent further spread and infection, and we were curious to see if sensor data could improve real-time surveillance at the state level,” said study author Dr Jennifer Radin from Scripps Research Translational Institute.
The researchers reviewed de-identified data from 200,000 users who wore a Fitbit wearable device that tracks users’ activity, heart rate and sleep for at least 60 days during the study time.
From the 200,000, 47,248 users from California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania wore a Fitbit device consistently during the study period, resulting in a total of 13,342,651 daily measurements evaluated.
The average user was 43 years old and 60 per cent were female.
De-identified data from the users retrospectively identified weeks with elevated resting heart rate and changes to routine sleep, said the research published in The Lancet Digital Health journal.
“In the future as these devices improve, and with access to 24/7 real-time data, it may be possible to identify rates of influenza on a daily instead of weekly basis,” said Radin.
This data was compared to weekly estimates for influenza-like illness rates reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time.
With greater volumes of data it may be possible to apply the method to more geographically refined areas, such as county or city-level.
The authors identify several limitations in their study.
Weekly resting heart rate averages may include days when an individual is both sick and not sick, and this may result in underestimation of illness by lowering the weekly averages.
Other factors may also increase resting heart rate, including stress or other infections.