HEALTH

Hygenic/Performance Health generates $18,000 for Pink-Link Breast Cancer Support Network

BY Michael Johnsen

AKRON, Ohio — Hygenic/Performance Health, maker of Perform Pain Reliever, on Tuesday announced that the company had increased in-store activity with an Instant Redeemable Coupon program in support of Pink-Link Breast Cancer Support Network, an online support resource for women affected by breast cancer. For each coupon redeemed, Hygenic/Performance Health donated a portion to Pink-Link. 

The program ran during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and concluded with a total donation of more than $18,000 to Pink-Link.   

“Hygenic/Performance Health is an integral partner in supporting Pink-Link, and I am truly grateful for their generous donation,” stated Vicki Tashman, founder of Pink-Link. “Their 2013 donation is essential to our mission, connecting breast cancer survivors online. These funds will go directly to our community outreach efforts so that all survivors can receive the support, information and encouragement they need during treatment and on their journey to a healthy survivorship.”

Pink-Link is a nonprofit organization, and all breast cancer support services are free. Pink-Link’s key service, an online database of breast cancer survivors, provides an intimate and personal link between breast cancer survivors. This "mentor-survivor" relationship provides the essential ongoing support needed to endure treatment of breast cancer.

“This annual program, which we launched in 2010, has resulted in a total donation of nearly $50,000 to the Pink-Link Breast Cancer Survivorship Network. Pink-Link is an outstanding organization, and we are honored to be a part of the fight," said Chas Tabone, trade marketing manager for Hygenic/Performance Health. "It’s gratifying to see our donation go directly to those affected by this terrible disease. Every year I am humbled by the experience and thankful to be a part of this initiative. Vicki and her team at Pink-Link are great partners and appreciate our contribution,” he said.  “I also want to thank all our retailer partners and customers who participated in the Perform Breast Cancer IRC Program. Without their support, this donation would not have happened."

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Study: Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women increases risk of developing severe preeclampsia

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — Women who are deficient in vitamin D in the first 26 weeks of their pregnancy may be at risk of developing severe preeclampsia, a potentially life-threatening disorder diagnosed by an increase in blood pressure and protein in the urine, according to research by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health released last week.

“For decades, vitamin D was known as a nutrient that was important only for bone health,” stated lead author Lisa Bodnar, associate professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “Over the past 10 to 15 years, scientists have learned that vitamin D has diverse functions in the body beyond maintaining the skeleton, including actions that may be important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy.” 

In one of the largest studies to date, researchers studied blood samples collected from 700 pregnant women who later developed preeclampsia in an effort to examine a woman’s vitamin D status during pregnancy and her risk of developing preeclampsia. The full study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is available online in the journal Epidemiology, and will publish in the March print issue.

Bodnar and her colleagues also studied blood samples from 3,000 mothers who did not develop preeclampsia. The samples were collected between 1959 and 1965 at 12 U.S. sites enrolled in the Collaborative Perinatal Project. The blood was well-preserved, and researchers were able to test for vitamin D levels decades later.

Scientists controlled for factors that could have affected a woman’s vitamin D status, including race, pre-pregnancy body mass index, number of previous pregnancies, smoking, diet, physical activity and sunlight exposure, which is the body’s primary source of vitamin D. 

The researchers found that vitamin D sufficiency was associated with a 40% reduction in risk of severe preeclampsia. But there was no relationship between vitamin D and mild preeclampsia. The overall risk of severe preeclampsia in the women sampled was 0.6%, regardless of vitamin D status.

“Scientists believe that severe preeclampsia and mild preeclampsia have different root causes,” noted senior author Mark Klebanoff of the Center for Perinatal Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Severe preeclampsia poses much higher health risks to the mother and child, so linking it with a factor that we can easily treat, like vitamin D deficiency, holds great potential.”

“If our results hold true in a modern sample of pregnant women, then further exploring the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of preeclampsia would be warranted,” Bodnar said. “Until then, women shouldn’t automatically take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy as a result of these findings.”

“If our results hold true in a modern sample of pregnant women, then further exploring the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of preeclampsia would be warranted,” Bodnar said. “Until then, women shouldn’t automatically take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy as a result of these findings.”

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FDA considering two new allergy remedies

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — The Food and Drug Administration will hold a public meeting of the Allergenic Products Advisory Committee on Tuesday to determine the safety and efficacy of Ragwitek, a short ragweed pollen allergen extract tablet for sublingual use, which is manufactured by Merck and indicated for immunotherapy for diagnosed ragweed pollen induced allergic rhinitis, with or without conjunctivitis.

“The committee is likely to approve these tablets which will mark great improvement in the fight against allergy,” stated Michael Foggs, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Once the committee and then the FDA approve the tablets, allergy sufferers will have another form of treatment available to them.” 

In December, the same committee granted approval for Stallergenes’ Oralair, which are grass allergy tablets. Assuming the committee also approves the ragweed allergy tablets, the FDA will then have to approve both the grass and ragweed tablets before they can be made available to allergy sufferers, Foggs noted.

Currently, the best treatment for those with moderate-to-severe allergy symptoms is allergy shots, according to ACAAI.

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