HEALTH

Vitamin D intake can help asthma, COPD patients

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO Vitamin D may slow the progressive decline in the ability to breathe that can occur in people with asthma, as a result of human airway smooth muscle proliferation, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in a study released Wednesday.

The group found that calcitriol, a form of vitamin D synthesized within the body, reduced growth-factor-induced HASM proliferation in cells isolated from both persons with asthma and from persons without the disease. The proliferation is a part of process called airway remodeling, which occurs in many people with asthma, and leads to reduced lung function over time.

The researchers believe that by slowing airway remodeling, they can prevent or forestall the irreversible decline in breathing that leaves many asthmatics even more vulnerable when they suffer an asthma attack.

“Calcitriol has recently earned prominence for its anti-inflammatory effects,” stated Gautam Damera, who presented the research at the American Thoracic Society’s 105th International Conference on Wednesday. “But our study is the first to reveal the potent role of calcitriol in inhibiting ASM proliferation.”

The investigators have also conducted experiments to determine whether calcitriol, which is currently used to treat psoriasis, could be an effective therapy for COPD.

Although preliminary, their data shows that calcitriol appears to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine secretions in COPD. As with asthma, the researchers believe, calcitriol may also have the added benefit of slowing, if not stopping, the progression of airway remodeling. Others in the field believe calcitriol may also have the potential to inhibit the development and growth of several types of cancer.

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ACG develops ‘IBS Treatment Matrix’

BY Michael Johnsen

BETHESDA, Md. The American College of Gastroenterology announced Wednesday that it will unveil “The IBS Test” and “The IBS Treatment Matrix” — two new online, interactive patient tools based on recently published ACG meta-analysis, offering evidence-based graded recommendations on the full range of options for testing and treatment of IBS — on May 29 in recognition of World Digestive Health Day.

IBS is a chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder which for many sufferers is marked by abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. It is estimated that between 10% and 15% of the U.S. adult population suffers from IBS symptoms, yet only 5% to 7% of adults have been diagnosed with the disease. According to studies, IBS patients make more visits to their physicians, undergo more diagnostic tests, are prescribed more medications, miss more workdays, have lower work productivity, are hospitalized more frequently, and account for greater overall direct healthcare costs than patients without IBS.

The IBS Treatment Matrix for patients was built based on a new ACG systematic review of the evidence on IBS treatments. Published in the January 2009 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology, the review offers graded recommendations on the full spectrum of options for testing and treatment of IBS, addressing everything from new IBS drugs to alternative therapies including psychotherapy and acupuncture.

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Pollen.com identified as reliable source for health information

BY Michael Johnsen

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. SDI on Wednesday announced that its Pollen.com allergy site received the Health On the Net Foundation’s Code of Conduct certification, identifying it as an internationally reliable source of health information.

Pollen.com’s audience has grown by more than 466% since the site’s launch in 2002. In April 2009, the site and network had more than 26.5 million page views.

“With our growing audience, the Health On the Net certification gives our visitors and advertisers further confidence that the information we are providing is a gold standard – it’s trustworthy, timely and credible,” stated Glenn Connery, associate director of the application development/Web group for SDI.

Certification by HON means that Pollen.com provides sound, authoritative information; data confidentiality and privacy; proper attribution of sources; and transparency, such as a clear delineation of advertising and editorial content.

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