ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
Winter Is Tough on Feet
CANCER
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
CAREGIVING
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
Is Your Refrigerator Getting Enough Attention For Your Raw Food Success?
Even in 'Last Supper,' Portion Sizes Have Grown
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming Linked to Heightened Kidney Stone Risk
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
High Temps Degrade Contact Lens Solution: Study
FITNESS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
St. John's Wort Doesn't Work for ADHD
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
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B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- People with heart disease who take high doses of B vitamins are somewhat less likely to suffer from stroke, especially if they're under 70, a new Canadian study suggests.

But other studies have come to opposite conclusions about whether vitamins really protect against cerebrovascular disease, noted Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center at Duke University, in Durham, N.C.

"We will need to carefully review this study in light of these other reports," said Goldstein. "There remains no evidence that general vitamin supplementation lowers risk of stroke or other cardiovascular events, and considerable evidence that it is ineffectual."

The Canadian researchers sought to determine whether high doses of three B vitamins could dampen the risk of stroke by lowering levels of an amino acid known as homocysteine.

Some research has linked high levels of the amino acid in the blood to a higher risk of stroke, although there's a debate over what this means.

The American Heart Association has made a point of not declaring high homocysteine levels to be a risk factor for heart disease or stroke. In fact, the association doesn't recommend the widespread use of B vitamin supplements to counteract any risk.

In the new study, researchers from the University of Toronto and McMaster University examined the results of a research trial that randomly assigned 5,522 adults with heart disease to either take a daily regimen of several vitamins or placebo pills for five years.

The vitamin regimen included a daily dose of 2.5 milligrams of folic acid (a type of B vitamin), 50 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 1 milligram of vitamin B12. These levels are higher than people would normally get from their diets or from multivitamins, said Lona Sandon, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

The findings were reported Thursday at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in San Diego.

Nearly 5 percent of the participants in the trial suffered from stroke during an average of five years of follow-up. The risk was lower in patients who followed the vitamin regimen, although the researchers described the difference as "modest."

The study's statistics suggest the vitamin therapy would help 13 out of 1,000 subjects avoid a stroke.

Several groups gained more benefit from the vitamin treatment: people younger than 70, those who had higher cholesterol and homocysteine levels at the start of the study, those from areas without folic acid fortification in food, and those who weren't receiving antiplatelet drugs (such as Plavix) or cholesterol-lowering statins at the start of the study.

The vitamin therapy didn't appear to have an effect on the severity of stroke that some of the participants suffered.

Another study presented at the same meeting found that taking recommended doses of B vitamins reduced homocysteine levels and lowered the chances of another stroke in stroke patients.

The University of California, Los Angeles, researchers collected demographic, clinical and laboratory data on more than 3,000 stroke patients at the start of the study and in follow-up visits of six, 12 and 24 months.

The vitamin group was less likely to have a recurrent stroke by the end of the two-year study (13.4 percent vs. 20.3 percent), the team found

Vitamins aside, experts said a healthy diet is the best way to guard against stroke.

"The best anti-stroke diet is high in vegetables and fruits, including high-fiber produce, low in saturated and trans fat, and higher in plant-based unsaturated fats [such as olive oil, unsalted nuts and avocado], with enough calcium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids and at a calorie level that helps maintain a healthy weight," said Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian in New York City.

And don't assume that you can reduce stroke risk by adding supplements to your diet for a few weeks, Sandon added.

"The benefits of vitamins and minerals are not a quick fix like prescription drugs," she said. "Vitamins and minerals must be taken in over several years to glean the benefits."

More information

Learn more about homocysteine from the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., professor of medicine and director, Duke Stroke Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Lona Sandon, M.Ed., R.D., assistant professor, clinical nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association; and Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., nutritionist, New York City; Feb. 18-19, 2009, presentations, American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference, San Diego

Last Updated: Feb. 19, 2009

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