Health Monitor

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Albertans are being asked to share their thoughts as the province undertakes a review of regulations for long-term care facilities and home-care services.

Two separate surveys ask residents, families, caregivers and members of the public to provide feedback related to access to long-term care facilities, home support services, meal requirements, meeting the needs of caregivers, among other things.

Both surveys can be found at health.alberta.ca until midnight on July 1. The current regulations expire in 2017.

Enthusiasm for vitamin D should be tempered, say researchers at the University of Alberta.

Vitamin D, which is synthesized in the body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, is touted for its ability to reduce falls and fractures, treat rheumatoid arthritis, depression and multiple sclerosis and prevent cancer.

Michael Allan, director of the Evidence-Based Medicine Department at the faculty of medicine examined scientific evidence behind 10 common beliefs about the pills and found that many of these claims are unsubstantiated.

“Wouldn’t it be great if there was a single thing that you or I could do to be healthy that was as simple as taking a vitamin, which seems benign, every day?” said Allan. “There is an appeal to it. There is a simplicity to it. But for the average person, they don’t need it.”

Vitamin D supplements had only a minor impact in reducing the number of falls among the elderly and preventing fractures. Other possible benefits of vitamin D supplementation are either false or still unproven.

The review was recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and studied a body of existing research.

Allan pointed out that much of this research was poorly executed. He said future research needed to produce higher quality evidence to be useful in the clinical field.

The latest report from the World Health organization removes coffee from the list of potential carcinogens and replaces it with “very hot beverages.”

Coffee was listed by the leading health organization 25 years ago over concerns that it could lead to bladder cancer, but after reviewing more than 1,000 studies that showed coffee was not a cancer hazard it reversed its stance.

Coffee may actually reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as in the liver and the uterus the review found.

While drinking coffee may longer pose a threat, the WHO found that the temperature of your caffeinated (or non caffeinated) drink does. Drinking very hot beverages – defined as above 65 C – could potentially increase chances of developing esophageal cancer.

This classification as “probably carcinogenic to humans” is based on limited evidence from epidemiological studies.

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St. Albert Gazette

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