The hunt for healthy answers

first_imgResearchers at Harvard Medical School and Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital are leading a five-year nationwide trial to find out whether the dietary supplements vitamin D and fish oil can boost the immune system and fight cancer, heart disease, and a host of other ills.The “Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial,” or VITAL, aims to sort out inconclusive and conflicting evidence from earlier research on the effects of the two compounds on human health.Previous studies have turned up tantalizing clues that the two nutrients can have considerable protective effects. But JoAnn Manson, the VITAL study’s principal investigator, said those trials — and others showing no protective effect — either involved specialized populations, such as those suffering heart disease, or used low dosages, which may have prevented finding a conclusive answer.The VITAL study is a large-scale, randomized trial involving 20,000 people across the country with no previous history of cancer, heart disease, or stroke, and is designed to test whether vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can help to prevent cancer and heart disease. Though cancer and heart disease are the study’s primary therapeutic targets, Manson said the study will also provide information on other ailments, such as diabetes, cognitive decline, depression, and respiratory diseases.Scientists already know quite a bit about how these nutrients work in the body. Both have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Vitamin D appears to benefit blood pressure and glucose tolerance, while working to prevent blood vessel growth that allows tumors to enlarge and spread. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-clotting effects and have been shown to protect against irregular heart rhythms.Manson, the Elizabeth Fay Brigham Professor of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School and chief of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Division of Preventive Medicine, said the trial will enroll men age 60 or older and women age 65 and up. The older study population was selected because people of those ages are more commonly afflicted with the ailments the study seeks to test.Researchers began seeking participants in January and will eventually send mailings to more than 1.2 million Americans, including health professionals and members of AARP. Potential participants will undergo a three-month screening before enrolling in the full trial. Participants will be divided into four groups and receive blister packs of daily supplements, along with questionnaires to complete and mail back to researchers. Though some participants may opt to visit nearby clinical centers for more-detailed assessments and to provide blood samples, most can participate entirely by mail.The groups will receive supplements containing vitamin D, omega-3s, both, or placebos, allowing researchers to examine the effects of vitamin D and omega-3s independently as well as together.The study’s vitamin D supplements will contain 2,000 international units (IUs) per day, five times the 400 IUs that the U.S. government currently recommends. Manson said most Americans get only about 300 IUs of vitamin D per day through their diet, and even with supplements few get more than 500 or 600 IUs. The human body can manufacture vitamin D when exposed to sunlight — more than 2,000 IUs for someone working lightly clothed in the sun all day — but the increase in people wearing sunblock to ward off skin cancer and the decreased prevalence of children playing outdoors have reduced the amount of vitamin D that many people get from sunlight.Several other factors are working to further reduce the amount of vitamin D that people get. The increase in children drinking sugar-sweetened beverages instead of milk cuts vitamin D intake. Also, because vitamin D is fat soluble, the obesity epidemic is increasing the amount that is stored in fats in our bodies instead of being freely available.The supplements will contain about one gram of omega-3s, Manson said, or about twice the amount people would get if they followed the government’s recommendation of two fish meals a week, and about five to 10 times what the typical American usually eats. It’s also about equal to the level in a typical diet in Japan, where heart disease rates are lower.Manson said it would be unwise for the public to start taking megadoses of the two compounds before the study’s results come out, citing the examples of earlier large-scale trials of vitamins E and C and beta-carotene that showed little benefit of those vitamins in large doses and even suggested some risks. Should the trial turn up protective benefits to vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, it would open the door to greater therapeutic use of the compounds, which are easily accessible, unlike a new exotic drug that would require extensive testing.Manson also plans to explore the role of vitamin D in reducing racial health disparities. The study will seek to enroll enough African Americans to make up a quarter of the study population in an effort to see whether low levels of vitamin D in African Americans are linked to higher incidence of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases and whether treatment with vitamin D can reduce these risks.“It’s exciting to get started with this trial,” Manson said. “We’re really hoping it will provide important answers.”To learn more about VITAL, visit VitalStudy.org.last_img read more

Governor Douglas dedicates Global War on Terror Memorial in Randolph Center

first_imgGovernor Jim Douglas on Veterans Day dedicated the Vermont Global War on Terror Memorial during a Veterans Day ceremony. The memorial recognizes all Vermonters who have served in the current conflicts and lists the 40 military members with Vermont ties who have died in service to their state and nation.‘Vermont has a long history of answering the call to arms to defend our nation, and this memorial recognizes those who volunteered and gave their lives in our defense,’ said Governor Douglas, who went on to highlight the wide support given to this project. ‘This dedication has been made possible by the determination and generosity of patriotic Vermonters.’The Vermont Fallen Heroes Global War on Terror Memorial Corporation, which is composed of family members of Vermonters who have died in the current conflict, has been responsible for building the memorial. Over 1,000 citizens and companies ‘ such as J.A. McDonald, which donated construction services, and Revision Eyewear, which made a significant monetary contribution ‘ donated time and/or money to the cause.‘Revision is honored to have contributed to the building of the Vermont Global War on Terror memorial, a freedom afforded to us only because of the departed’s great sacrifice,’ said Jonathan Blanshay, CEO of Revision Eyewear, which is a Vermont based company that provides protective equipment to American troops.The dedication is the culmination of four years of efforts by the families of those who gave their lives to their country.‘The common thread with all the families, our resulting purpose, was to be certain that our heroes were never forgotten,’ said Marion Gray, President of the Vermont Fallen Heroes GWOT Memorial Corporation.The memorial, located near the entrance of the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph Center, will ensure all will be remembered.‘Everyone who enters our cemetery will now see this permanent reminder that our state is proud of our men and women in uniform, and we don’t take their sacrifices, or the sacrifices of their families, for granted,’ said Clayton Clark, Veteran Services Director for the State of Vermont. Source: Governor’s office. 11.11.2010last_img read more

Županja got a smart bench Our beautiful Sava

first_imgOn the occasion of marking ten years of a socially responsible project Our beautiful Sava Coca-Cola’s system in Croatian cities along the Sava River – Zagreb, Sisak, Slavonski Brod and Zupanja – where the project has been implemented from the very beginning, decided to thank this year by donating a smart bench as a reminder of a long-term partnership.After the smart benches were set up in Zagreb and Sisak, Županja also got its own smart bench. The people of Županja can now charge their electronic devices on this smart bench, and when they connect to the Internet, the Lijepa naša Sava website opens with an overview of activities during the ten years of the project. “Being able to be a part of the Beautiful Our Sava project in the past ten years and gathering almost 60 partners at the state and local level provides a great sense of pride and satisfaction. We want to thank them by setting up smart benches that will remain in permanent ownership and for the benefit of the entire community. We launched the project to encourage citizens to return to the Sava River and to raise awareness of the importance of its preservation. Now that we see the results of the project in the last ten years, we can conclude that the project has successfully achieved its goal because during the 31 fairs we gathered 150 exhibitors and more than 100 visitors. Also, the celebration of the tenth anniversary provides an impetus for the company’s future activities in the field of water protection and water resources”, Said Stijepan Petrovic, a representative of Coca-Cola HBC Croatia.In the last ten years, the Beautiful Our Sava project has significantly helped to promote the importance of preserving the Sava region and encouraging continental tourism, and Mirko Bačić, director of the Tourist Office of the City of Županja, said more about this: “We are extremely honored to be partners in the project Our Beautiful Sava for ten years, thanks primarily to Coca-Cola HBC Croatia. With the project Our Beautiful Sava, we strive to encourage and promote the importance of the Sava River and environmental protection, and certainly enrich the county’s tourist offer in the presentation of cultural heritage and traditional gastronomic offer on the arrival of cruisers and many visitors. “After the smart bench Lijepa naša Sava was presented in Županja, it will continue to mark the tenth anniversary of the project in Slavonski Brod.last_img read more