In The News: September 2011
Bariatric Surgery Linked to Increased Fracture Risk
People who have had bariatric weight-loss surgery are at high risk of breaking bones. In a recent study presented by The Endrocine Society, an analysis of 258 patients showed that those who had bariatric bypass surgery had 2.3 times the chance of fractures compared with the general population. The likelihood of breaking a foot or hand was especially high—about three times that of the general population. Seventy-nine patients who underwent bariatric surgery between 1985 and 2004 had 132 fractures during a nine-year follow-up. After evaluating various fracture risk factors, researchers found that patients who were more physically active before surgery had a lower fracture risk than those who were less active. Authors of the study stressed that patients who experienced fractures did not necessarily develop osteoporosis. They also suggested that clinicians should consider measures to bolster bone health after bariatric surgery, such as fall prevention and optimizing calcium and vitamin D nutrition.
Zoledronic Acid at Lower Doses Increases Bone Density
A lower dose of zelodronic acid than typically recommended for the prevention of bone fractures may be just as effective in reducing bone absorption, increasing bone density, and reducing the risk of future osteoporotic fractures. Currently, manufacturers of zoledronic acid, also called zolendronate, recommend a once-yearly infusion of 5 mg for prevention of fractures in people with osteoporosis. For this study, medical researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand selected 180 postmenopausal women with osteopenia (mild bone loss) to receive a single treatment with either a placebo or 1 mg, 2.5 mg, or 5 mg of zolendronate. One year after treatment, bone density increased significantly in each of the zolendronate groups, but the improvement in spinal bone density was similar for each zolendronate group: 3.5 percent for the 1 mg dose, 4 percent for the 2.5 mg dose, and 3.6 percent for the standard 5 mg dose. Researchers suggested that clinical trials be undertaken to determine the ability of lower doses of alendronate to prevent fractures.
Alternative Health Practices Benefit in Treating Chronic Pain
A variety of complementary and alternative health practices—including meditation and relaxation techniques, manual therapies such as massage and spinal manipulation, meditative forms such as yoga and tai chi, and ancient health practices such as acupuncture—may be of benefit in the management of chronic pain. According to a nationwide survey, 38 percent of adults use some form of complementary or alternative medicine. The survey also found back pain the most common condition for which adults use unconventional medicine. Researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine point to successful studies in the field that include tai chi for fibromyalgia, as well as meditation, yoga, and acupuncture for lower back pain. In particular, the integration of alternative and complementary therapies with conventional medicine for pain management is currently being pursued in a number of military health-care settings.
Eating More Fish Boosts Bone Health
Older adults who eat more fish have healthier bones than people who eat less fish, according to a study in a recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. People who consumed three or more servings of fish per week had a higher bone mineral density of the hip bone than those who consumed less than one serving a week. Although the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between eating more fish and better bone health, researchers theorize that the combination of different oils in fish does have a protective effect on bones. It is believed that the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish are responsible. These fatty acids are thought to enhance calcium transport and reduce excretion of calcium in the urine, which can contribute to stronger bones. Which fish is best? Based on the study’s results, “dark fish”—mackerel, salmon, sardines, bluefish, and swordfish, which have the highest content of polyunsaturated fatty acids—appeared to provide the most benefit.