Science notes: Weight gain from low vitamin D?

  • Updated: June 30, 2012 - 4:58 PM

WEIGHT GAIN FROM LOW VITAMIN D?

In a group of women older than 65 who had gained weight over 4 years, those whose levels of the vitamin were low had gained a little more weight, researchers said in a study published online by the Journal of Women's Health. The researchers say more study is needed about any possible connection between weight and vitamin D.

"This is one of the first studies to show that women with low levels of vitamin D gain more weight, and although it was only 2 pounds, over time that can add up," said Erin LeBlanc, an endocrinologist and researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

The study looked at 4,659 women over four years. Of those who lost weight or kept a stable weight, the researchers said there was no association with vitamin D levels. But among the 571 who gained more than 5 percent of their body weight, low vitamin D levels seemed to make a difference. They noted that it's possible that decreased sun exposure could trigger the body to increase fat storage.

TRAFFIC NOISE MAY BE RISK FOR HEART

A study suggests that traffic noise may increase the risk for heart attack.

Danish scientists studied 57,053 residents of Copenhagen and Aarhus, ages 50 to 64, for an average of 10 years. They recorded 1,600 heart attacks. They found that even after controlling for the risks known heart attack risks -- such as diet, alcohol consumption and physical activity -- along with blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetic status, each increase in 10 decibels of traffic noise exposure was associated with a 10 percent greater risk of heart attack. The link may not be causal, but the researchers suggest two possible mechanisms.

"One is that traffic noise disturbs sleep, and you can be disturbed without even realizing it," said the lead author, Mette Sorensen of the Danish Cancer Society. "We think that noise at night is most dangerous."

EARLY SIGN OF CERVICAL CANCER?

Scientists have located the cells in the cervix that give rise to cancer when attacked by the human papillomavirus, a discovery that may lead to new methods of preventing and treating the disease.

Even though the virus pervades the entire genital tract, HPV infection causes precancerous and cancerous lesions in just one part of the cervix, called the ectoendocervical squamocolumnar junction, or SC junction. Now researchers have found that cervical cancers are linked to a small population of distinct cells in that region.

"These markers could be used to more clearly define which precancers need to be treated versus those that need to be followed," said Dr. Christopher Crum, a Harvard professor and the senior author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A MOTHER KNOWS HER KID'S CALL

If you've heard one pygmy goat kid bleating, you've heard them all -- unless, that is, you're a mother goat. A study reports that mothers can recognize the calls of their kids even after more than a year of separation.

In the wild, female goats tend to stay within their groups, while males disperse. For their study, researchers separated the goats after weaning, and found that the mothers remembered the calls of their offspring for seven to 13 months.

When mothers heard the calls of their own kids they responded more quickly, with more calls, and looked at the loudspeaker for a longer time, said Elodie Briefer, an evolutionary biologist at Queen Mary, University of London, an author of the study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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