ISLAMABAD  – Having too little calcium in the diet increases women’s risk of a hormone condition that can cause bone fractures and kidney stones, scientists suggest.

Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) affects around one in 800 people during their lifetime and is most common in post-menopausal women. Writing in the British Medical Journal, the team suggest increasing calcium intake cuts the risk of the disease, BBC reported.

Adults need around 700mg of calcium a day. Milk and other dairy foods, nuts and fish such as sardines and pilchards (where the bones are eaten) are some dietary sources of calcium. PHPT is caused by overactive parathyroid glands secreting too much parathyroid hormone.

As well as bone and kidney problems, there have also been suggestions it is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

Calcium is a mineral that helps build strong bones and teeth, regulates muscle contraction and makes sure the blood is clotting normally. Milk and dairy products have long been held as an important source of calcium

Other sources of calcium include fish, dried fruit, sesame seeds, almonds, soya and dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin D is also important because it helps the body absorb and retain calcium in the bones, making them strong

Writing in the journal, the team led by Dr Julie Paik, said: “Increased calcium intake, including both dietary and supplemental calcium, is independently associated with a reduced risk of developing primary hyperparathyroidism in women.”

James Norman, of the Norman Parathyroid Center in Florida, added that daily calcium supplements in “modest doses” were likely to provide “more benefits than risks”.

Natural skin virus can fight against acne bacteria

American researchers have identified an active protein in the skin virus that could be used as a new acne treatment.

According to the results of the study conducted jointly at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pittsburgh, the harmless virus known as bacteriophages (phage) —that unlike viruses such as HIV or poliovirus feed only on bacteria and not on human cells — can target bacteria responsible for Propionibacterium acnes, Press TV reported.“Acne affects millions of people, yet we have few treatments that are both safe and effective,” said the lead scientist of the study, Professor Robert Modlin from the University of California at Los Angeles.

“Harnessing a virus that naturally preys on the bacteria that causes pimples could offer a promising new tool against the physical and emotional scars of severe acne,” he added.

The team analyzed the genetic codes of the residing viruses after removing them from the noses of volunteers using over-the-counter cleansing strips.

The result unraveled that the viruses were all unusually similar, sharing more than 85% of their DNA. “This suggests the bugs they attack are unlikely to have developed resistance to them, which would normally drive genetic diversity through natural selection.” The discovery also indicated that all the phages carried a gene coding a protein called endolysin, an enzyme that breaks down bacterial cell walls.

“Acne can dramatically disfigure people and undermine their self-esteem, especially in teens. We can change patients’ lives with treatment. It’s time we identified a new way to safely treat the common disorder,” researchers claim.