Yet another condition has been linked with vitamin D deficiency: uterine fibroids, benign tumors that can cause pain and bleeding. Researchers randomly selected 620 black and 410 white women, ages 35 to 49, and determined their vitamin D levels and their health status for a study that appears in the May issue of Epidemiology. About two-thirds of the women had fibroid tumors. In the entire group, only 10 percent of the black women and 50 percent of white women had vitamin D levels above 20 nanograms per milliliter, generally considered adequate. After adjusting for age, physical activity, sun exposure and other variables, researchers found that having a vitamin D level above 20 decreased the risk for fibroids by 32 percent, and that each increase of 10 nanograms per milliliter in vitamin D was associated with a 20 percent lower risk.
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High resting heart rate, shorter life
A study published last week in Heart suggests that even for healthy people in good physical condition, a higher resting heart rate is a risk factor for earlier death. Danish researchers gave physical exams to 5,249 healthy middle-aged and elderly men beginning in 1971. In 1985 and 1986, they tracked the 3,354 surviving. Of these, 2,798 had sufficient data on heart rate and oxygen consumption for the analysis. Researchers followed them through 2011. After controlling for physical fitness and other factors, they found that the higher the resting heart rate, the greater the risk of death. Compared with men with rates of 50 beats a minute or less, those at 71 to 80 beats had a 51 percent greater risk. At 81 to 90 beats, the rate of death doubled, and above 90 it tripled.
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Hair samples tell truer cortisol tale
High levels of cortisol - the so-called stress hormone - have been associated with heart disease in some studies, but not in others. This may be because measuring cortisol in blood or saliva once may pick up acute stress, but it fails to account for long-term stress. Now Dutch researchers have assessed cortisol levels over several months by analyzing scalp hair samples. Their results appeared online last week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Researchers measured the cortisol content in hair samples corresponding to roughly three months of growth from 283 men and women, average age 75. Compared with those in the lowest quarter for cortisol, those in the highest quarter had about three times the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There was no association between cortisol levels and the risk for lung disease, cancer or osteoporosis.
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Tampa General earns accolades
Another kudo for Tampa General Hospital: its Level 1 trauma center is the first and only program in Florida to earn recognition from the American College of Surgeons for the quality of its trauma care. ACS-verified trauma centers must meet criteria governing patient care, education, research and community outreach. "Our physicians and clinical staff treat thousands of trauma cases a year to achieve the skill levels required for this distinction,'' said Jim Burkhart, president and CEO of Tampa General, which also was named the state's top hospital by U.S. News and World Report.