Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 29th, 2010

Movies that are better than you expect: Example

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Remarkable Power. So far, and I’m fairly into it on Watch Instantly.

Written by Leisureguy

29 August 2010 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Daily life, Movies & TV

Don’t take calcium supplements unless you take vitamin D with them

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Important health note reported by Evra Taylor-Levy and Eddy Lang in the Montreal Gazette:

Why worry about calcium and the heart?

To understand the possible relationship between calcium and your heart, you need to know about coronary artery and vascular plaques. Plaques are deposits on the inside of arteries that lead to poor circulation and, ultimately, to heart attacks and strokes. The plaques are made of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood. In fact, it is the calcium that makes these narrowings particularly stiff and more likely to cause problems. This accumulation of plaque describes the condition known as atherosclerosis, which includes coronary artery disease (CAD), a leading cause of death worldwide.

High calcium levels in the blood have been shown to accelerate calcium buildup in plaques. Taking calcium supplements raises calcium levels in the blood and may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

What about vitamin D in the treatment of osteoporosis?

We know that a lack of vitamin D contributes to bone weakness and an increased risk of falls and fractures. Vitamin D is therefore important for treating osteoporosis as it works primarily by enabling the body to absorb calcium from the diet and to use it to strengthen bone. The benefits of vitamin D also seem to extend to cardiovascular health and may somehow reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke, leading to longer and healthier lives.

The study.

Bolland MJ, Avenell A, Baron JA, et al. Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis. BMJ 2010;341: c3691.

What type of study was this?

This kind of study is called a meta-analysis, or systematic review, and is often the focus of HealthWatch columns because it provides a critical analysis and summary of multiple trials that are designed to answer the same question. In this case, researchers attempted to collect and analyze every well-done study conducted on calcium supplements that followed patients long enough to determine if the supplements led to an increase in heart attacks, strokes or death.

Why didn’t we know that calcium might be harmful to the heart?

The potentially harmful effects of calcium are never immediate and take years to develop. When you consider this, as well as the fact that heart attacks and strokes occur fairly often in the elderly, it’s not surprising that the influence of calcium supplements might go largely unnoticed. Only careful studies in which two very similar groups of people, distinguished only by their use or non-use of calcium supplements, can provide an accurate picture of potential health risks. Fifteen such trials comprising more than 8,000 patients were included in this meta-analysis.

Tell me about the risks.

Taking a calcium supplement alone increases your risk of a heart attack by about 30 per cent. This study is only about doses higher than 500 mg per day, and does not relate to diets that are high in calcium or cases where supplements are taken together with vitamin D. Another way to look at this risk is to note that if 1,000 women were to take calcium supplements for a five-year period, 13 would die, 14 would have at least one heart attack, and 10 would suffer at least one stroke as a result of trying to keep their bones healthy.

Is there any reason to question these findings?

Yes. All studies are at risk for getting things wrong, and this one is no exception. The concern here is that the studies in question were not specifically designed to measure cardiovascular disease and did so in differing and non-standardized ways. However, this is equally true for the subjects taking calcium and for those in the comparison group, so it probably does not affect the conclusions.

Should I stop taking my calcium supplement?

If you are taking calcium without vitamin D or another treatment specifically for osteoporosis, the answer is yes. This may come as a surprise to you but when taken alone, calcium supplements have little or no benefit when it comes to preventing fractures. As a result, without a compelling upside, the decision not to take them should be a relatively easy one, at least based on what we know today. The benefits of taking vitamin D together with calcium are an entirely separate issue with the science suggesting that whether for bone or heart health, taking the two together continues to make sense.

Written by Leisureguy

29 August 2010 at 6:43 pm

TV tropes

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Story patterns in a wiki. Fascinating.

Written by Leisureguy

29 August 2010 at 9:31 am

Posted in Movies & TV, Writing

Lazy day

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I’m in the final two DVDs of Season One of Murder One. Good, but too much time investment per return, I think. And also doesn’t break neatly into bite-sized pieces, the way CSI does. CSI clearly is not so ambitious, but I find it more enjoyable.

Written by Leisureguy

29 August 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Daily life

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