The Checkup: Too Much Vitamin D Hurts the Heart
• Vitamin D supplements seem like the wonder pills du jour, don’t you think? I feel like half the people I know are taking them, or think they should be. While it’s true that many of us aren’t getting enough of the bone-and-heart-protecting vitamin, new research shows that too much of it can actually cause harm, damaging blood vessels and ultimately boosting a person’s risk for cardiovascular problems. An earlier study found that high levels of vitamin D can also cause the heart to beat too fast and out of rhythm, a condition called atrial fibrillation. The problem is that people absorb vitamin D differently in their bodies, potentially throwing vital systems out of whack. So it’s important to be tested and monitored by a doctor before beginning a vitamin D regimen.
• The genetic underpinnings for prostate cancer have been a mystery to researchers for decades. Now, a collaborative team at UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Michigan say that have uncovered a gene mutation that ups a man’s risk if he has a family history of prostate cancer striking earlier in life. They’re still working on pinpointing the exact risk for men who carry the mutation, but based on their study results, they say the gene puts a person at a 10-to-20-times higher chance of developing the disease. Read more here.
• This is pretty scary: Doctors in India are reporting having patients with totally drug-resistant tuberculosis strains. The good news, according to this article on MSNBC.com, is that no one seems all that surprised by it—because doctors there don’t always know how to properly treat the disease, public health experts knew such cases would pop up sooner rather than later. The problem is that if you treat TB but do it incorrectly—with the wrong kinds of medications, or at the improper dosage, or for too short of a time span—the disease comes back with a vengeance and mutates into a more drug resistant strain. So far, 12 cases of totally drug-resistant strains have been reported.