MARCH 01, 2007

Exercise Helps Dieters Keep Bones Strong

When overweight people lose weight, they tend to lose bone mineral density at the same time, which increases their risk for osteoporosis. A study from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo, suggests that exercising to lose weight can help preserve bone strength. The results of the study appeared in the December 11, 2006, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers randomly assigned 48 healthy, nonobese people in their 50s to 3 groups as part of a 1-year study. The first group lowered their caloric intake by 16% in the first 3 months, then by 20% for the rest of the year. The second group increased their amount of exercise by 16% in the first 3 months, then by 20% for the next 9 months. The third group was a control group that had neither diet nor exercise modifications.

The diet group lost an average of 17 lb and the exercise group an average of 14 lb. Those in the low-calorie group, however, also lost bone mineral density—more than 2% at the spine, hips, and leg. The researchers recommend a combined program of diet and exercise for a more beneficial weight-loss program.

Oversized Purses Can Be Such a Pain

One of the biggest fashion trends last season was large, oversized purses. Although they may be stylish for a short time, the damage they can cause can last for years if not dealt with promptly. Bigger bags mean more items to carry, and long-term usage of these weighted-down pocketbooks can cause back, neck, and shoulder pain, headaches, and possibly arthritis.

Jane Sadler, MD, a family practice physician at Baylor Medical Center at Garland, Tex, knows what to do when women patients come to her with neck pains and headaches. "I usually?look for their purse and pick it up," she said. "We take it over to the scale and weigh it, and?they're anywhere from 7 to 10 lb." She says that, carrying extra-large bags with extra items causes an imbalance in walking and standing that can leave a lasting impression. "It creates strain along the neck and into the nerves that exit the neck and down the shoulder, so it can be very painful later on," she said.

Dr. Sadler suggests that, if a woman's purse is uncomfortable when wearing it, if she can feel it pulling her shoulder, or if it weighs more than a few pounds, it might be time to downsize. "We're really going to see women with more and more problems later on if we continue the big purse craze," she said.

Discovery About Cartilage May Aid OA Treatment

Scientists at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, have revealed the structure of cartilage, in hopes of finding clues to help better treat patients with osteoarthritis (OA). For years, scientists have known that cartilage gets its strength from interlocking, millimeter-long collagen fibers that work in a manner similar to load-bearing steel rods in reinforced concrete. The precise structure of these fibers has remained unknown for over 40 years, however, thereby stalling any progression of potential therapies.

Researchers at the university used sophisticated electron microscope techniques to discover the molecular structure of the thinner of the 2 types of fibrils. They explained, "OA occurs when the fibrils are disrupted or lost?. Eventually, the cartilage breaks down altogether?. Without a detailed understanding of the structure of these fibrils, a treatment that prevents them from deteriorating would always prove elusive." Once scientists learn how the fibrils form and develop into healthy cartilage, they can then study what occurs when diseases such as OA develop. The findings were published in the November 2006 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Arthritis Foundation Commends Pain Relief Lotions

The Arthritis Foundation has given its Ease-of-Use Commendation to Castiva Cooling and Warming Arthritis Pain Relief Lotions. Castiva received the commendation for providing a flip-top tube that is easy for patients with arthritis, minor strains, and other joint symptoms to open. A favorable review was awarded when the product was evaluated by patients with limited physical functions due to the effects of arthritis.

"We wanted to create a product that was truly innovative," said Greg Pulido, chief executive officer of Humco Holding Group, the distributor of Castiva. "It was important [that] Castiva not only worked, but was easy to use by those with joint or muscle limitations." The commendation gives Castiva the right to display the Arthritis Foundation's "Ease-of-Use" logo on the packaging and advertising in recognition of the "packaging innovation that? improves the quality of life for people with arthritis by providing greater accessibility."

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