In The News: July 2010
Beer May Help Prevent Weakened Bones
A new study suggests that beer, a significant source of dietary silicon, is a key ingredient for increasing bone mineral density, thus preventing the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis. In a report appearing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, commercial beer production was studied to determine the relationship between beer production methods and the resulting silicon content. Researchers, studying 100 beers, found that those containing malted barley and hops had greater silicon content than beers made from wheat. Some light lagers made from grains like corn had the lowest levels of silicon. A spokesman from the National Osteoporosis Society said that while these findings mirror previous studies, which concluded that moderate alcohol consumption can be beneficial for bone health, increased alcohol consumption is not recommended on the basis of this study, adding that although silicon may contribute to bone health, it is insignificant compared with nutrients that are known to be essential for bone health, such as calcium and vitamin D.
New Drug Approved for Treating Dupuytrenís Disease
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of collagenase clostridium histolyticum (Xiaflex), a new drug designed to treat Dupuytrenís disease, a debilitating hand disorder caused by the accumulation of collagen that deforms fingers and limits motion (June 2010 AA). The new drug, the first FDA-approved non-surgical treatment for Dupuytrenís disease, means patients will now have an alternative treatment that does not require surgery. Developers of the drug at Stony Brook (N.Y.) University Medical Center claim that injections of the collagenase into the cords causing the finger contractures weaken the cords significantly, enabling manipulation of patient fingers and the ability to break the cords causing the contracture. They also report that most patients with advanced forms of the disease would be candidates for the treatment regardless of age.
Gout Increases Heart Attack Risk
A recent study has reported a 39 percent increased risk of heart attack in women age 65 and older who suffer from gout. This is a significantly higher percentage than the risk that has been observed in men with gout. The risk was independent of age, the presence of other diseases, or prescriptions for gout or heart disease. Authors of the study, which appeared in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, speculate that increased uric acid levels seen in gout cause inflammation and smooth muscle cell proliferation in blood vessels, two factors that increase the development of plaque in the arteries and blood clots that can lodge in the plaque, causing heart attack.
Mobile Compression Device Prevents Post-Surgery Blood Clots
A newly developed mobile compression device is as effective as medication, but safer, at preventing the formation of blood clots after hip replacement surgery. The small battery-operated instrument, called a Continuous Enhanced Circulation Therapy device, consists of a sleeve that fits over the patientís calves and applies intermittent pressure to the legs to maximize blood flow and reduce the risk of clot formation. Research has shown that 30 to 50 percent of patients undergoing joint replacement surgery will develop thromboembolic disease, in which blood clots form in the veins; if a clot breaks away, it can travel to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism and death. For preventative care, doctors have had the choice of using blood thinners or compression devices that were large, could only be used in hospitals, and prevented walking. To test the effectiveness and safety of the device, investigators recruited 410 patients who were undergoing hip replacements from several hospitals. To look for deep-vein blood clots, ultrasounds were conducted on patientsí calves and thighs 10 to 12 days after surgery. Investigators found that in patients taking the blood thinner heparin, major bleeding occurred in 6 percent, while no patients using the mobile device developed major bleeding.