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Sofia Vergara invites fans to join the family

BY Ryan Chavis

CINCINNATI — Head & Shoulders, a brand from Procter & Gamble, announced plans to give one fan a chance to meet "Modern Family" star Sofia Vergara.

To enter the contest, fans must first follow the brand on Twitter or Instagram (@HeadShoulders) and then share a photo of their hair using the hashtags #PartOfOurFamily and #sweeps and tag @HeadShoulders. The fan who comes out on top will win a trip to an advertising shoot to meet Vergara and her family.

“I’m excited to give one of my fans the chance to become part of my family for a day,” Vergara said. “Everyone knows 8-out-of-9 Vergaras use Head & Shoulders, now we’re looking for the tenth. We’re looking for someone who flaunts their beautiful, flake-free hair with a little Vergara attitude.”

For official rules, click here. The contest runs through Sept. 8.

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Integer study: Fewer back-to-school shoppers this year, but more spending

BY David Salazar

DENVER — About 36% of shoppers don’t plan to do back-to-school shopping this year, up from 31% in 2013 and 28% in 2012, according to a new study by the Integer Group and M/A/R/C research. However, those who will shop are poised to spend more than ever.

"Shoppers are expected to spend more this year so our study showing a drop in the amount of people who will be shopping presents an interesting dynamic," the Integer Group’s SVP insight and strategy Craig Elston. "A combination of several factors could explain why a third of the respondents won't be shopping, including fewer school-age children in the home and households repurposing school supplies and merchandise to help minimize costs."

Among those who will be shopping, a little less than half will look to mass retailers for their back-to-school essentials. This number, though, is about 6% lower than it was in 2013. In fact, most shopping channels are in decline when it comes to back-to-school shoppers. The starkest contrast over the past three years is in drug stores, where only about a fourth of shoppers plan to shop this season — down nearly 10% from 2012 and 5% from 2013.

Among back-to-school shoppers, the most important thing, according to the study, is the lowest price on the items they need. Many shoppers are moving online, with about 40% of millenials planning to shop online. Additionally, more shoppers are getting the information about which retailer to visit online, with social media, retailer sites and the Internet generally gaining shoppers, while such traditional forms as newspaper circulars — down 19 points from 2013 — lose steam. However, in store, 44% of shoppers refer to circulars.

“Retailers must work to improve integration between their brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences to provide optimized product selection, availability and expedited shipping or in-store pickup,” the report said. “Brands, as well, need to ensure that back-to-school coupons and promotions feature a user-friendly and engaging digital component, including use of mobile and social media platforms.”

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Study: Vitamin D supplementation before surgery may reduce adverse outcomes

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA — Patients with low blood levels of vitamin D are at increased risk of death and serious complications after noncardiac surgery, according to a study published Friday in Anesthesia & Analgesia.
 
"Vitamin D concentrations were associated with a composite of in-hospital death, serious infections and serious cardiovascular events," according to the new research by Alparslan Turan and colleagues of the Cleveland Clinic. They believe their results warrant further study to see if giving vitamin D supplementation before surgery can reduce the risk of these adverse outcomes.
 
The researchers analyzed the relationship between vitamin D level and surgical outcomes in approximately 3,500 patients who underwent operations other than heart surgery between 2005 and 2011. Only patients who had available data on vitamin D levels around the time of surgery — from three months before to one month afterward — were included in the study.
 
The concentration of vitamin D — specifically, 25-hydroxyvitamin D — in blood samples was analyzed as a risk factor for death, cardiovascular events or serious infections while in the hospital. The analysis included adjustment for other factors, such as demographic characteristics, medical conditions and type and duration of surgery.
 
Most patients did not meet the recommended 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration of greater than 30 ng/mL. The median vitamin D level was 23.5 ng/mL — more than 60% of patients were in the range of vitamin D insufficiency (i.e., 10 ng/mL to 30 ng/mL). Nearly 20% had vitamin D deficiency (i.e., less than 10 ng/mL).
 
"Higher vitamin D concentrations were associated with decreased odds of in-hospital mortality/morbidity," the researchers wrote. For each 5 ng/mL increase in 25-hydroxyvitamin D level, the combined risk of death, cardiovascular events, or serious infections decreased by 7%.
 
Patients at the lowest level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, less than 13 ng/mL, were at highest risk of death or serious complications. Those with higher vitamin D levels, up to 44 ng/mL, had about half the risk as those in the lowest group. The association with low vitamin D was statistically significant only for cardiovascular complications, although there were "strong trends" for mortality and infections.
 
However, Turan noted that the study had some important limitations — especially the fact that it included only patients who had recent measurements of vitamin D levels. They may represent a less healthy group, introducing a potential source of selection bias.
 
The study can't determine whether there is any cause-and-effect relationship between vitamin D levels and the risk of adverse outcomes. Turan and colleagues suggested a formal randomized trial to evaluate whether preoperative vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of serious complications and death after surgery.
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