News December 2018 Issue

In The News: December 2018

Mediterranean Diet May Reduce Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that most likely is caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Researchers sought to determine a possible role of diet, in particular the mostly plant-based Mediterranean diet, which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers analyzed data on health and diet for 1,721 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 3,667 people without the disease. Results were published in Arthritis Research & Therapy (September 2018). They found that 24 percent of those with rheumatoid arthritis and 28 percent of those without it highly adhered to the Mediterranean diet. High adherence reduced the chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis by 21 percent compared to low adherence, but only in men who had positive blood tests for rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide, which are antibodies in most people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Sleep Apnea May Increase Risk of Gout


Obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder that causes frequent, brief pauses in breathing during sleep, is linked to a variety of other health conditions. A study published in Arthritis &Rheumatology (August 2018) found that it may also increase risk for gout. The study included 15,879 people with sleep apnea and 63,296 without it who were followed for about six years. During that time, 4.9 percent of those with sleep apnea and 2.6 percent of those without it developed gout. The risk was highest in the one to two years after being diagnosed with sleep apnea. The increased risk occurred in people of all weight groups (normal, overweight and obese), and was highest among people of normal weight. The reason for the connection is not known, but it may be that reduced oxygen during sleep enhances uric acid production. High levels of uric acidare an underlying mechanism that can lead to gout.

Consistent Osteoporosis Drug Use Tied to Lower Fracture Risk


Women with osteoporosis who faithfully take bisphosphonates to treat it have a lower risk for bone fractures than those who take the medication inconsistently. This was the finding of a study published in Osteoporosis International (July 2018). The researchers analyzed Medicare data on 294,369 women with osteoporosis who were started on an osteoporosis medication. About one-third of them took the drug consistently, with no gaps of 60 or more days, for one year or longer. The rest were "nonpersistent" users. For the persistent users, the annual rate of fractures dropped from 16.2 per 100 patients before starting the drug to 4.1 per 100 in the 18 months afterwards. Non persistent users had higher fractures rates: 19 fractures per 100 patients, which decreased to 7.3 per 100 users. The researchers also found that healthcare costs were lower for those who consistently took their osteoporosis medication.

High Vitamin Intake Lowers Risk of Frailty


Older adults who consume a diet full of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables are at lower risk for frailty than their counterparts who eat fewer of these foods, according to a study published in the journal Age and Ageing (July 2018). The researchers analyzed diet history and frailty for 1,643 adults ages 65 and older. During three-and-a-half years of follow-up, 89 developed frailty, defined as unintentional weight loss, exhaustion, weakness, slow walking speed and low physical activity. Those who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamins from food had higher odds of developing frailty. Low intake of vitamin B6 increased the chances of frailty 2.8 times. The increased odds of frailty were 1.6 times higher with low vitamin C intake, 1.93 times with low vitamin E intake, and 2.34 times with low intake of folate.

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