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Insider Arthritis Tips October 2012
October 15, 2012

How you fare in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life, you will have been all of these. ---George Washington Carver.

October Arthritis News

Knee Replacements On The Rise Among Seniors

Janice Lloyd writing in USA Today reported on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that the "number of total knee replacement surgeries has soared 161.5% among Medicare participants over the past 20 years, a $5 billion annual tab that will continue to grow as the USA's 77 million Baby Boomers age." The article says that "the wider use of knee replacement, on one hand, is good news for the rapidly aging population." However, it adds that although "knee surgery eases pain from severe arthritis and improves quality of life," the study authors say the improvements "can be viewed as another strain on government, individuals, and businesses struggling with unremitting growth in health care costs."

Comment: There’s got to be a better way. I still advocate stem cells.

Thin Placenta May Be Linked To Increased Risk Of Sudden Cardiac Death As Adult

Kthleen Doheney writing in Healthday reported, "Being born to a mother with a thin placenta...may increase the chances of developing sudden cardiac death as an adult," according to a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Comment: How the heck do you know if your mother had a thin placenta?

Study Shows Rowers, Skiers May Not Have More Chronic Back Pain

Reuters reported that a new Norwegian study appearing in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that competitive cross-country skiers and rowers may not have any more problems with chronic lower back pain than other people. Researchers surveyed 415 former cross-country skiers and rowers and found that 56% of them indicated that they had lower back pain. Meanwhile, 53% of the non-athletes surveyed said that they had experienced lower back pain in the past year. Reuters quotes lead researcher Ida Stange Foss as remarking, "This is an important and positive message for the athletes."

Comment: I still would be concerned because the mechanics of rowing and skiing certainly aren’t good for the back unless you have worked on your core.

NSAIDs Slow Bone Changes In Ankylosing Spondylitis

Nancy Walsh writing in MedPage Today reported, "The routine use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) among patients with ankylosing spondylitis can slow the progression of bone changes in the spine, two groups of European researchers reported" in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Comment: Great news since these medicines are commonly available and relatively inexpensive.

Green Tea Improves Bone Formation In Women

Yagana Shah writing in USA Today reported, "Research has long shown the antioxidant properties and health benefits of drinking tea, but new findings suggest that tea may also have significant preventive properties against chronic disease." During "a six-month trial of 171 postmenopausal women with low bone mass, researchers found participants had improvements in bone formation by consuming 500 mg of green tea polyphenol capsules a day, the equivalent of four to six cups of tea, alone or in conjunction with practicing tai chi." The findings were presented at the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health.

Comment: If you drink a lot of tea, make sure you’re near a bathroom.

Painkillers Worsen Headaches

James Gallagher writing for BBC News reported, "Up to a million people in the UK have 'completely preventable' severe headaches caused by taking too many painkillers, doctors have said." They also "said some were trapped in a 'vicious cycle' of taking pain relief, which then caused even more headaches." This "warning came as part of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) first guidelines for treating headaches."

Comment: Terrific… a treatment that makes the condition it’s supposed to help worse.

Print Knee Cartilage And Bone Implants?

Robert Lee Hotz writing in the Wall Street Journal reported on "bioprinting." Researchers are using printers to print human tissue. Researchers at one university have printed knee cartilage and bone implants. At another university, researchers have printed kidney cells. Meanwhile, beating heart muscle has been printed at another university. Researchers are hoping that they can eventually use the technology to print out entire human organs. Earlier this year, Organovo Inc., which makes "bioprinters," received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to perform research on how to print 3-D liver cells.

Comment: Just fire up the Xerox machine and let’s go!

Human Embryonic Stem Cells Improve Hearing In Deaf Gerbils. Malcolm Ritter writing for the Associate Press reported on a study that concluded, "For the first time, scientists have improved hearing in deaf animals by using human embryonic stem cells, an encouraging step for someday treating people with certain hearing disorders." The research "involved an uncommon form of deafness, one that affects fewer than one percent to perhaps 15 percent of hearing-impaired people."

Comment: I’m not kidding about this although I wonder how they found these deaf gerbils to use in the experiments.

Wei’s World September 2012

So what have I been up to? I finished writing a version of this column. It was about leaves. After writing it I thought, “Who cares about leaves?” I had nothing else special to write about until this past weekend when Judy and I had the opportunity to do some interesting activities.

September marked the sesquicentennial anniversary of the battle of Antietam. More Americans lost their lives in that one day than on any other day in American history. What a tragedy! The Civil War also marked the first time in American history that an effort was made to identify the remains of the fallen and return them home. The enormity of the carnage as well as the formidable attempts to find, identify, and transport the soldiers’ remains home for burial was elegantly described in a book entitled, The Republic of Suffering, by Drew Gilpin Faust. Dr. Faust also happens to be the first woman president of Harvard University.

And our daughter, Becky, works at Harvard as Dr. Faust’s briefing coordinator.

So when the Smithsonian held an event featuring Dr. Faust, Ric Burns, the director of the film, “Deaths and the Civil War”, a documentary based on Dr. Faust’s book, as well as Admiral Mike Mullens, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our daughter encouraged us to attend. A preview of the film, which was presented on PBS on September 17th, was shown and a panel discussion about the film took place afterwards. Judy and I were able to meet a number of interesting people including Dr. Charles Rosenberg, Dr. Faust’s husband, and a luminary in his own right, as well as Dr. Faust. In fact, we talked with a number of fascinating people. Since we don’t usually “get out,” the event was a real treat. And it was a pleasure to meet Becky’s “boss.”

Early the next morning, we drove to Albany, enroute picking up our youngest daughter from her school, to see our son, Jeffrey, perform at the Cohoes, NY ,Music Hall. He’s in the musical, “In the Heights”, which features some outstanding music and dance, as well as a great story line. After the show, we visited with Jeffrey and were introduced to some of the other performers. It was a wonderful evening. Jeffrey’s best friend from high school drove up from New York City to see him as well.

Life is short. And there are times when things don’t go so well. And sometimes the future seems quite bleak. But there are also times of joy that are like a glorious tickle on the inside that make you feel like you want to burst. That was our weekend.

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