News August 2019 Issue

In The News: August 2019

One in Four Adults in the United States Has Arthritis

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An estimated 54.4 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC analyzed data from the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which is a telephone survey that included over 400,000 Americans. The study, published in MMWR (May 2019), found that about 23% of adults ages 18 and older have arthritis, with variation across the country, ranging from 15.7% in Washington, D.C. to 34.6% in West Virginia. Prevalence was generally highest in the Appalachian and Lower Mississippi Valley regions. Among adults with arthritis, about 31% reported severe joint pain and 34% said they were not physically active. People with severe joint pain were more likely to be physically inactive than those with moderate or no joint pain.

Replace Sitting with Physical Activity to Reduce Osteoporosis Risk

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Physical activity, particularly weight-bearing exercises (such as walking), can help keep bones strong, and may help to prevent the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. A study published in the European Journal of Sport Science (April 2019) found that swapping just 30 minutes of sedentary time (meaning sitting) with 30 minutes of light physical activity can make a difference. The researchers used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2003 to 2006, which included data on bone density and physical activity. They included 1,052 women ages 50 to 85 in the analysis. Substituting 30 minutes of sedentary time with 30 minutes of light physical activity was associated with increased bone density and a 12% reduced risk of osteoporosis in the spine. The benefits were most pronounced in women who were overweight or over age 65.

Fish Rich in Omega-3s May Reduce Gout Flare-Ups

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For gout sufferers, consuming more fish may reduce flare-ups of the condition, according to a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology (April 2019). Gout occurs when excess uric acid (a natural substance in the body) settles in joints, where it intermittently forms crystals, which trigger a painful gout attack. Uric acid levels can be lowered with medication. But less than half of people with gout take long-term medications, and many people suffer recurrent flare-ups. For the study, 724 people with gout completed a questionnaire every three months for one year. Twenty-two percent of them reported consuming omega-3 fatty acids (from fish or supplements) in the prior 48 hours. Those who ate omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon, tuna or mackerel, had a 33% lower risk for gout attacks. Fish oil supplements did not have this effect.

Drinking Tea May Increase Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, but there are some factors that may increase risk. A group of researchers examined a possible relationship between drinking coffee or tea and risk for rheumatoid arthritis, and they published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology (April 2019). They analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, which included over 76,000 women who completed questionnaires about daily coffee and tea consumption. After three years, 185 of them developed rheumatoid arthritis. There was no increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis among coffee drinkers, regardless of how much coffee they drank, compared to those who drank no coffee. There was a small increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis among those who drank caffeinated, non herbal tea every day compared to those who drank no tea. There is no biological explanation for a potential connection, and this requires further study.

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