Health Briefs - Osteoarthritis

January 20, 2008

New Study Sheds Light on Possible Cause of Osteoarthritis

New Study Sheds Light on Possible Cause of Osteoarthritis

A recent study uncovered the first direct scientific evidence of how osteoarthritis destroys joint-protecting cartilage a finding that will hopefully lead to better treatment and prevention for the painful, debilitating condition affecting millions of men and women around the world.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the U.S. and published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, focused on the impact that a protein called beta-caterin may have in causing the breakdown of joint-protecting cartilage. Earlier studies showed a possible link between high beta-caterin levels and osteoarthritis.

The research was conducted on mice that had been genetically engineered to have high beta-caterin levels. Those mice were found to have suffered the same types of symptoms seen in people with osteoarthritis; the mice had lost most of their articular cartilage and had tiny bone fractures.

In conjunction with the study, the researchers took cartilage cell samples from a group of patients with severe osteoarthritis. Beta-caterin levels in those samples were found to be much higher than normal.

Weight-bearing Exercise Helps Increase Bone Mass

Loss of bone mass is a significant health problem for many women going through menopause. That’s one reason why osteoporosis represents a greater health threat to women than men. Fortunately, regular exercise can help slow the rate of bone loss. According to Dr. Prawee Sirithienthad, a sports medicine specialist, weight-bearing exercises are among the most effective exercises to help women maintain and build stronger bones.

A study by German researchers showed that weight-bearing exercise is one of the most important factors for building bone mass in menopausal women. The study found that women who engaged in weight-bearing exercise just once a week had higher bone density than women who didn’t do any weight-bearing exercise.

As Dr. Prawee explained, many women shy away from exercise involving weights for fear that their bodies will soon end up looking overly muscular. That fear has little basis in fact, as moderate weight-bearing exercise a few times a week won’t cause anyone to be mistaken for a wrestler or bodybuilder.

Leg Vein Blood Clots Tied to Air Pollution

Living among high levels of air pollution increases a person’s risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the condition sometimes called “economy class syndrome” that causes potentially deadly blood clots usually located in the legs. That’s the finding of a recent study of DVT patients published in The Archives of Internal Medicine.

During the study, researchers in Italy monitored the air pollution exposure of nearly 900 DVT patients against a control group of over 1,200 healthy people over a one-year period.

The results showed a clear and serious connection between air pollution and DVT risk for each increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter in particulate matter, a person’s level of DVT risk increased by about 70%, which means that those who live in heavily-polluted areas are at higher risk for developing the condition.
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