In The News: March 2018
Exercise May Prevent Low Back Pain
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (October 2017) found that regular exercise lowers your risk for low back pain, a condition that affects about 80 percent of adults some time in their lifetimes. Low back pain is often caused by pulling a muscle, overstretching a ligament, or mechanical problems resulting from poor posture, weak core muscles and poor flexibility. For the study, researchers combined results from 16 studies with a total of 4,310 participants. They found that people who regularly exercised were 33 percent less likely to develop low back pain. Specifically, combining strengthening and stretching of low back and abdominal muscles or combining strengthening and aerobic exercises two to three times a week protected the back. The researchers also found that for people who already had low back pain, exercise reduced the severity of it.
Extra Weight Worsens Rheumatoid Arthritis
Being overweight or obese appears to reduce the chances of achieving sustained remission of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research (November 2017). The researchers analyzed data from a large, multicenter study in Canada. The study included 982 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were treated initially with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (such as methotrexate) and subsequently with biologic drugs (such as Remicade or Enbrel, among others). Among them, 315 had a healthy body mass index (BMI; 18.5 to 24.9), 343 were overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) and 324 were obese (BMI 30 or above). A total of 355 participants achieved sustained remission within three years. At first, response to treatment was similar in all groups. However, over three years, overweight patients were 25 percent less likely than healthy-weight patients to achieve sustained remission, and those who were obese were 47 percent less likely to have long-lasting remission.
Prolonged Bisphosphonate Drug Holiday Raises Fracture Risk
Bisphosphonate drugs are commonly used to treat the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. But because of potential risks with long-term use, such as atypical thigh bone (femur) fractures, it often is recommended to stop the drug (a drug holiday) for a period of time after several years of use. According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (November 2017), the drug holiday should probably not last more than two years. Using Medicare data from 2006 to 2014, the researchers identified 156,236 women who used bisphosphonate drugs. About 40 percent of them had taken a drug holiday of six months or more. The researchers found that hip fracture rates were lowest among the women who did not take a drug holiday. Women who stopped the drug for more than two years had the highest rate of hip fractures.
Health Risks for Children of Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Children born to women with rheumatoid arthritis face an increased risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research (December 2017). Using data from Danish health registries on children born between 1989 and 2013, the researchers identified 2,106 children born to women with rheumatoid arthritis and compared them to over 1.3 million children born to women without the disease. The children of women with rheumatoid arthritis were close to three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis in childhood or adolescence. Children in this group also had over two times the risk for thyroid disease and over one-and-a-half times the risk for epilepsy. More research is needed on the underlying biological mechanisms of these conditions to understand the reasons for the increased risks.