/publications/issue/2007/2007-08/2007-08-6706

Arthritis Watch

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Act Now to Prevent Future Disability
A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the prevalence of arthritis and limitations in activity will increase considerably in all but 2 states and the District of Columbia by the year 2030. This announcement followed a report projecting a nationwide surge in arthritis prevalence, from 46 million to 67 million American adults by 2030. The Arthritis Foundation urges individuals to take action now to prevent future consequences.

The report from the CDC was released during May?s National Arthritis Month and indicated that due to the aging American population, sedentary lifestyles, and expanding waistlines, arthritis and other rheumatic conditions will be a continuing problem.

The Arthritis Foundation encourages individuals to reduce the impact of arthritis by becoming more active, controlling their weight, preventing sports injuries (which can increase the risk for future joint ailments), and visiting the physician regularly for early and accurate arthritis diagnosis. For more information on preventing and controlling arthritis, visit the Arthritis Foundation?s Web site at www.arthritis.org.

Whole Grains May Help Stem Inflammation
The health benefits of whole grains may go beyond the heart, as researchers have found that these foods could be linked to a lower risk of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. The study was conducted by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and it showed that among 41,836 postmenopausal women, those who ate the most whole grains were about one third less likely to die of an inflammatory disorder over a 15-year period. The findings were published in the June 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The researchers looked at data from the Iowa Women?s Health Study, which followed the health habits of almost 42,000 women, aged 55 to 69 years, between 1986 and 2001. The women completed detailed questionnaires on their diets and other lifestyle assessments. Among those who ate 11 or more servings of whole grains per week, the odds of dying from an inflammatory condition during follow-up were about one-third lower than those who rarely ate whole grains. The researchers encouraged the public ?to incorporate more whole-grain foods of any type into their diets.?

Link Between IRD and Atherosclerosis Studied
Inflammatory rheumatic diseases (IRDs) are associated with a higher rate of death from heart disease. One reason is that patients with rheumatic diseases have a greater susceptibility to atherosclerosis, although the link between them is still unclear. For this reason, researchers in Norway and the United States studied the aortas of recipients of coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery and compared them with biopsy specimens from patients with IRD and those without. Their research showed that IRD is an independent predictor of vessel wall inflammation.

Aortic samples were obtained during CABG surgery at 2 cardiac centers in Norway. The researchers compared those of 66 patients with IRD with those of 51 disease-free patients. All the specimens were evaluated for evidence of chronic inflammatory cell infiltration in the aortic wall by counting and measuring the mononuclear cell infiltrates (MCIs) in the aorta. The researchers found that MCIs occurred more frequently in patients with IRD?47% of these patients, compared with only 20% of those without the disease. (The findings were published in the June 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.)

Bottoms Up! Alcohol May Protect Against RA
Data presented at the European League Against Rheumatism?s Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (Barcelona, Spain) suggested that the regular consumption of alcohol may help ward off rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, found that drinking 3 or more alcoholic beverages a week shows protective effects. Although the exact protective mechanism of alcohol is unknown, it might reduce inflammation. The study included 1400 patients diagnosed with RA and 1700 patients without the disease, all aged 18 to 70 years. The participants answered questionnaires on lifestyle factors, including alcohol consumption.

Both study groups were examined for a blood DNA marker that increases the risk of developing RA.

Those who reported drinking >3 servings of alcohol per week were shown to have a reduced risk of developing RA; those who consumed 10 servings had even greater protection than those who drank less.

The study also found, however, that smoking in conjunction with drinking negates the beneficial effects of the alcohol. The most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage was wine. The researchers insisted, however, that this is not a license to overindulge. ?A high level of alcohol intake can be very dangerous to your health,? they said.