your health
July 17, 2014
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More than 700,000 prescriptions are written for niacin each month in the United States, but a new study finds that the pills might do more harm than good.

Niacin is a B vitamin, and is often given to patients who need to lower their "bad" cholesterol while raising the "good" kind. Researchers at Oxford University studied more than 25,000 people in Europe and China who took niacin while undergoing standard cholesterol treatment. The "bad" cholesterol (LDL) did decrease, but the niacin was also linked to a 32 percent increase in diabetes over four years. There were other side effects, like bleeding, heartburn, and stomach ulcers, and taking niacin didn't seem to lower rates of chest pain, stroke, or heart attack.

"On the basis of the weight of available evidence showing net clinical harm, niacin must be considered to have an unacceptable toxicity profile for the majority of patients, and it should not be used routinely," Dr. Donald Lloyd-Hones of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine wrote in a commentary. The Mayo Clinic still recommends taking niacin, but only after consulting with a doctor.

The report was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Discoveries
8:52 a.m. ET

The ancient site of Tiahuanaco in western Bolivia has yielded plenty of finds for historians. It was once the capital of a Pre-Columbian empire, Tiwanaku, that peaked between 500 and 900 C.E. Now, archaeologists have announced another amazing find from the site: an underground pyramid, discovered using radar.

The radar data also revealed "underground anomalies" that may be monoliths, EFE reports. The Bolivian government has announced that further excavations will be held at the site over the next five years, starting this summer, to explore the pyramid as well as the possibility of monoliths.

The site was once home to one of ancient America's most important cities, Ancient Origins notes, and the city spanned roughly 231,000 square miles. Other finds from the site have included sculptures, palace ruins, and stone monuments.

Tiahuanaco has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, but the newly discovered pyramid proves that the site still has plenty of secrets to reveal. The archaeologists are expected to announce initial finds from research into the pyramid later this year.

This just in
8:09 a.m. ET

An early vote count from Nigeria's election has opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan by two million votes. While the lead is formidable, many of the country's large states in the south have not declared their results yet. A former military ruler whose defeat in the last election resulted in rioting that left 800 dead, Buhari has made fighting the Islamist militant group Boko Haram a centerpiece of his campaign. If Buhari wins, Jonathan would be Nigeria's first incumbent to lose a presidential election. —Meghan DeMaria

Iran and the bomb
7:24 a.m. ET

The self-imposed deadline for a framework deal on Iran's nuclear program is midnight Tuesday (6 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast), and State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf puts the odds of a deal at 50-50. And while there is some speculation that the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, could continue into Wednesday, "March 31 is the deadline," Harf told reporters. "It has to mean something. And the decisions don't get easier after March 31."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — who is rejoining his counterparts from Iran, the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, and China on Tuesday — put the odds of success considerably higher. "They are probably not 100 percent but you can never be 100 percent certain of anything," he told Russian media before heading back to Lausanne for the final push. "The odds are quite 'doable' if none of the parties raise the stakes at the last minute." If an agreement is reached, the details won't have to be ironed out until the end of June.

Quotables
6:11 a.m. ET

Tuesday's edition of The Indianapolis Star has an unusual front page editorial on Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Under a massive headline, "Fix This Now," the editorial says that the law "already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future," and urges "bold action" to fix the problem. Karen Ferguson, The Star's president and publisher, underscored the urgency:

The governors of Washington and Connecticut have already banned state-sponsored travel to Indiana, several companies have condemned the law, and the NCAA is under pressure to criticize the law or even move the college basketball finals from Indianapolis to another city. On Monday, the Republican leaders of the General Assembly said they would try to "clarify" the law so it won't be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

"Half steps will not be enough," The Indianapolis Star said. "Half steps will not undo the damage" to Indiana's image, "reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome," and yearslong effort "to attract talented workers and thriving businesses." Repealing the law isn't politically feasible, the paper says, but "Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly need to enact a state law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity." Read the entire editorial at The Indianapolis Star.

Want
5:06 a.m. ET

Forget those alarm clocks that you can plug your iPhone into — isn't your smartphone an alarm clock by itself? — because waking up to your favorite song or podcast or ringtone is nothing compared with waking up to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Meet the Barisieur, created by designer Joshua Renouf:

The stylish alarm clock not only heats up water, siphons it over your favorite ground beans, and filters it into a cup, but the Barisieur also has a special refrigerated vial to hold your milk and a drawer for your sugar, if you're into anything other than black coffee. And it plays the radio, too. There are two downsides: The Barisieur isn't available for purchase yet, and when it does go on sale, hopefully sometime in 2015, it will cost about $300-375. That's still cheaper than hiring a live-in barista. For more photos, visit the JR Industrial Design site.

Watch this
4:06 a.m. ET

Van Halen, with David Lee Roth back as frontman, is releasing a new album, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, on Tuesday. On Monday, they shut down part of Hollywood Blvd. to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live. If you're wondering why Roth's nose is bandaged, he smacked it with a microphone in their first take of "Panama." He makes a joke about it halfway through the version below, but his bloodied nose doesn't stop the 60-year-old rocker from kicking and singing his way through the song. And Eddie Van Halen's guitar work is pretty close to the same as it was when Roth left the band in 1985. Watch below. —Peter Weber

RIP
3:23 a.m. ET

On Sunday, police found the body of Spence Jackson, the media director for Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, about a month after Schweich apparently killed himself hours before a planned news conference to accuse the head of the Missouri Republican Party of waging an anti-Semitic smear campaign against him. Jackson, 44, was discovered inside his locked apartment in Jefferson City, shot dead in an apparent suicide, according to Jefferson City Police Capt. Doug Shoemaker.

Police are treating Jackson's death as a suicide, though they aren't ruling out other causes of death, and they aren't releasing the contents of a note found near Jackson's body. Schweich, a Republican, was running for governor, and after his death, Jackson called on Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock to resign. Shoemaker has more information about the case in the news conference below. —Peter Weber

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