Healthy Choices

Living in countries with less sun raises leukemia risk

Based on global data from 172 countries, the results suggest that “much of the burden of leukemia worldwide is due to the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency we are experiencing in winter in populations distant from the equator,” according to a statement by Dr. Cedric Garland, a professor in the family medicine and public health department at UC San Diego Health.
Based on global data from 172 countries, the results suggest that “much of the burden of leukemia worldwide is due to the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency we are experiencing in winter in populations distant from the equator,” according to a statement by Dr. Cedric Garland, a professor in the family medicine and public health department at UC San Diego Health. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

Living in the United States and other countries with lower sun exposure and vitamin D levels puts residents at double the risk of developing leukemia compared with those living near the equator, according to a recent University of California, San Diego, study.

Based on global data from 172 countries, the results suggest that “much of the burden of leukemia worldwide is due to the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency we are experiencing in winter in populations distant from the equator,” according to a statement by Dr. Cedric Garland, a professor in the family medicine and public health department at UC San Diego Health.

Leukemia rates were highest in countries relatively closer to the poles, such as Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Ireland, Canada and the United States. They were lowest in countries closer to the equator, including Bolivia, Samoa, Madagascar and Nigeria.

“These studies do not necessarily provide final evidence,” said Garland, “but they have been helpful in the past in identifying associations that have helped minimize cancer risk.”

The study follows similar investigations by UC San Diego researchers of other cancers, including breast, colon, pancreas, bladder and multiple myeloma. In each study, reduced ultraviolet (UVB) radiation exposure and lower vitamin D levels were associated with higher risks of cancer.

The recommended daily vitamin D dose for children and adults is 600 IU. Only a few foods contain significant amounts of vitamin D, including salmon, fortified milk and yogurt. Vitamin D is most efficiently absorbed when the sun’s ultraviolet radiation hits the skin and triggers synthesis.

Recovery from a breakup hinges on sense of self

A study out of Stanford released this week found that people’s views of themselves have a significant impact on how heavily they are affected by a romantic breakup.

Through a series of online survey questions given to about 900 participants, the two authors, both from Stanford’s psychology department, were able to place people into two categories: those who have a fixed view of themselves, believing personality doesn’t change, and those who have a growth-oriented view, or believe personality is dynamic.

The study found that people in the former category tend to feel the pain of rejections for much longer than those in the latter.

“Those who see rejections as revealing a core truth about themselves as a person, something about who they really are, may be more likely to struggle with recovery and carry rejection with them into the future,” said Laura Howe, lead author of the study, in a Stanford news release.

The research found that even rejections from complete strangers can create problems for people with fixed personality views. In the case of romantic rejections, people who fall under this category reported still being negatively influenced by rejections that had occurred more than five years ago.

The authors said they hope the study will inspire further research into how non-romantic events, such as being abandoned by a parent or being fired, impact different personality types.

Group prenatal care reduces risk of preemies

Young women who received group prenatal care, as opposed to individual prenatal care, were 33 percent less likely to have infants who were small for their gestational age in a Yale-led study, published last month in the American Journal of Public Health.

Additionally, the babies delivered by women who received group care spent fewer days in the neonatal intensive care unit than the babies of women who received individual care, according to the research.

The study, led by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health, looked at 1,000 women ages 14 to 21, in disadvantaged areas, with no other known health risks to their pregnancies. All of the women were placed in groups with other expectant mothers at some point during their pregnancy. The higher the number of group visits attended, the lower the rates of adverse birth outcomes, researchers found.

Group and individual care sessions included all the same components, except group visits built in additional time for education, skill building and the opportunity to discuss and learn from the experience of peers, said the researchers.

“Few clinical interventions have had an impact on birth outcomes,” said professor Jeannette R. Ickovics, the study’s lead author, in a news release. “Group prenatal care is related to improved health outcomes for mothers and babies, without adding risk. If scaled nationally, group prenatal care could lead to significant improvements in birth outcomes, health disparities and health care costs.”

Claudia Buck: 916-321-1968, @Claudia_Buck

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