Today’s Headlines: Vitamin D, Menthol Cigarettes and Breast Cancer

Low Vitamin D Tied to Aging Problems: “A new study has found that low vitamin D levels in people over 55 are associated with an inability to perform ordinary tasks of daily life. Dutch researchers studied two groups of older people – one of 725 men and women aged 55 to 65, and another of 1,237 older than 65 – to see if they could walk up or down a 15-step staircase, dress and undress, stand from a sitting position, cut their toenails, walk outside unaided for five minutes, and use their own or public transportation. Then they did blood tests for vitamin D levels. After controlling for factors including age, physical activity and chronic diseases, they found that in both groups, a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter was associated with an increased number of disabilities compared with those with a normal level (above 30).” (New York Times)

FDA: Menthol Cigarettes Probably Pose Greater Health Risk Than Standard Ones: “The Food and Drug Administration said for the first time Tuesday that menthol-flavored cigarettes probably pose a greater risk to public health than standard cigarettes, largely reaffirming the findings of an agency advisory committee two years ago and potentially laying the groundwork for tighter regulations in the future. In a 153-page ‘preliminary scientific evaluation,’ the FDA found that although there is ‘little evidence’ to suggest that menthol cigarettes are more toxic than non-menthol cigarettes, the mint flavor of menthol masks the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to get addicted and harder to quit.” (Washington Post)

Why Breast Cancer Is More Likely to Kill Black Women: “A diagnosis of breast cancer is more likely to lead to early death for black women than for white women, a disparity that’s mainly the result of having more health problems before cancer develops, new research shows. Of the black women on Medicare who were told they had breast cancer, 55.9% were still alive five years later. That compared with 68.8% of white women who were the same age, lived in the same area and were diagnosed in the same year, according to a study published in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. But the more that white women had in common with black women, the smaller the discrepancy became.” (Los Angeles Times)