ARTHRITIS WATCH

Published Online: Monday, October 1, 2007

Arthritis Disability More Prevalent in Minorities

The results of a recent study show that older Americans of black or Hispanic American heritage are twice as likely to have an arthritic disability that interferes with their daily living as their white counterparts. Data from the 1998-2004 Health and Retirement Study were examined for health and lifestyle data on almost 7300 participants who reported having arthritis but not a related disability at the start of the 6-year study.

The researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Ill, reported that 1 of every 6 participants had difficulty in performing such daily tasks as dressing, bathing, and walking across a room. Hispanic Americans who spoke Spanish and blacks were almost twice as likely to report a disability as whites. Hispanics who spoke English had rates almost the same as Caucasians. The researchers found that, in addition to having fewer economic resources, minorities were more likely to be uninsured or to be relying on Medicaid, both of which may result in a suboptimum level of care. The findings were published in the August 2007 edition of Arthritis Care & Research.

Aspirin Lowers Cancer Risk in OA Patients

A study of Medicare patients with osteoarthritis (OA) showed that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin can help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Randomized trials showed that treatment with NSAIDs can help prevent the development of precancerous colorectal polyps, but it had not been confirmed whether the medicine had an effect on invasive colorectal cancer risk.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital examined the data from the 1993-1994 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which reported the diagnoses and treatments of patients during a random week. Those data showed that older patients with OA were more than 4 times as likely to take NSAIDs as those without OA.

After comparing data on 4600 patients with colorectal cancer with 100,000 patients without the disease, they found that a history of OA was linked to a 15% reduction in the event of a colorectal cancer diagnosis.A similar link was found in patients who used NSAIDs after a total knee replacement.

The findings were reported in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Antioxidants May Thwart Knee Arthritis

The findings of a new study show that patients who include foods containing antioxidants in their regular diet could be protecting their knees from arthritis. Researchers in Australia found that middle-aged adults with higher levels of vitamin C were less likely to develop certain bone abnormalities that could lead to knee arthritis. Antioxidants protect cells in the body from accumulating oxidative damage. The findings were reported recently in the online edition of the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne studied 293 men and women, average age 58 years, who were healthy and free of knee pain at the beginning of the study. They completed detailed questionnaires about their diets, and 10 years later their knee tissues were examined with magnetic resonance imaging scans. All the antioxidants were consumed through food rather than supplements.

The investigators found that, the higher a person's dietary level of vitamin C at the start of the study, the lower the risk of specific bone changes after 10 years. They also found a connection between a greater consumption of fruit (a main source of vitamin C) and a lower risk of knee osteoarthritis.

Women, OA Patients Recover from Surgery More Slowly

New research presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine at the TELUS Convention Center in Calgary, Canada, shows that women tend to have poorer short-term recovery in the first year following arthroscopic meniscal tear-removal surgery than men.

Patients with osteoarthritis also do not fare as well as those without the disease. The researchers noted that the usual factors associated with poorer long-term outcome-such as larger tear size, greater amount of tissue removed, and greater patient age- were not the same as those associated with short-term recovery.

Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine studied 126 patients who had arthroscopic partial meniscectomy to determine the effect of obesity, age, gender, amount of tissue removed, and degenerative joint changes on short-term recovery. The researchers suggest that "arthritis may be a marker for a degenerated knee, which may not be able to recover as well." They were not sure how being female affected surgical recovery, however.

FAST FACT: Approximately 1% to 3% of all women could develop rheumatoid arthritis sometime in their lives.



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