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Start Moving, Stay Moving
It is believed that the increasingly sedentary lifestyle of Westerners is one reason for the sharp increase in hip fracture rates observed during the last five decades.
A new Danish study followed 13,183 women and 17,045 men and suggests that even moderate physical activity several times per week can reduce hip fracture rates by 25 percent. Those who had become sedentary had a higher risk of hip fracture than those who remained moderately active throughout life. No need to overdo it—being in the most active category seems to offer no greater protection than staying moderately active.
Hoidrup S, Sorensen TI, Stroger U, Lauritzen JB, Schroll M, Gronbeck M. Leisure-time physical activity levels and changes in relation to risk of hip fracture in men and women. Am J Epidemiol. 2001;154:60-68.
An Orange a Day…
Vitamin C is essential for the for-mation of collagen—the connective tissue matrix within our bones. Researchers from the University of California surveyed 13,080 adults enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that premenopausal women with higher vitamin C intakes had higher bone densities than women with lower intakes. Men with vitamin C intakes of approximately 200 milligrams per day—an amount easily consumed on a varied plant-based diet—had the lowest self-reported fracture rates.
Simon JA, Hudes ES. Relation of ascorbic acid to bone mineral density and self-reported fractures among US adults. Am J Epidemiol. 2001;154:427-433.
Vegan Diet Improves Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia
A diet change helps rheumatoid arthritis, according to Swedish researchers who enrolled 66 arthritis patients in a one-year study, assigning 38 to a gluten-free, vegan diet and 28 to a non-vegan diet. The special vegan diet was meant to eliminate the proteins from milk and grains that appear to cause an immune reaction. Forty percent of people in the vegan group improved compared to just one person in the control group.
Another study tested a mostly raw vegan diet in 30 patients with fibromyalgia, a syndrome of chronic fatigue, pain, poor sleep, depression, and anxiety. After several months on the diet, 19 participants showed significant improvement in range of motion, flexibility, and other measures.
Hafstrom B, Ringertz A, Spanberg L, et al. A vegan diet free of gluten improves the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: the effects on arthritis correlate with a reduction in antibodies to food antigens. Rheumatology 2001;40:1175-9.
Donaldson M, Speight N, Loomis S. Fibromyalgia syndrome improved using a mostly raw vegetarian diet: an observational study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2001;1:7.
Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella Common in Ground Meat
Salmonella is a principal cause of foodborne illness, making nearly 1.4 million Americans sick each year. The routine use of antibiotics in farmed animals has made treatment of such illnesses increasingly difficult as consumers of these products become desensitized to drugs they regularly ingest.
A new study examined 200 samples of ground chicken, beef, turkey, and pork from Washington, D.C.-area supermarkets and found 20 percent contained salmonella. Of those, 84 percent were resistant to antibiotics. Most salmonella infections come from ingesting meat, eggs, and dairy products and are most life-threatening in the very young and old.
White D, Shaohua Z, Sudler R. The isolation of antibiotic-resistant salmonella from retail ground meats. N Eng J Med. 2001;345: 1147-1154.
ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION
Pig-to-Human Organ Transplantation
Pigs harbor endogenous retroviruses (PERVS) capable of infecting human cells, one of the many hazards of animal-to-human organ experiments, or xenotransplantation. Maryland scientists have now identified infectious viruses in the blood plasma of pigs, confirming previous findings that certain cells express dangerous viruses when manipulated in the laboratory. Although biotech firms continue racing toward what they view as a multibillion-dollar business opportunity, leading researchers warn that xenotransplantation could breed a host of new viruses that may spread from organ recipients to the general population.
Takefman DM, Wong S, Maudru T, Peden K, Wilson CA. Detection and characterization of porcine endogenous retroviruses in porcine plasma and porcine factor VIII. J Virol. 2001;75:4551-4557.
Draize Test Alternatives
Scientists have been developing replacements for the infamous Draize test, which assesses tissue damage as chemicals are dripped into the eyes of rabbits. A new study by Unilever evaluated how well in vitro (cell and tissue) tests identified the irritating properties of various shampoos and conditioners and concluded that three tests are suitable for assessing eye irritation, including EpiOcular™, a system that uses human tissue to model the human cornea. EpiOcular™ is made by MatTek (MatTek Corporation, 200 Homer Ave., Ashland, MA 01721, 508-881-6771).
Jones PA, Budynsky E, Cooper KJ, Decker D, Griffiths HA, Fentem JH. Comparative evaluation of five in vitro tests for assessing the eye irritancy potential of hair-care products. ATLA. 2001;29:669-692.
Population Studies Critical in Birth Defects Prevention
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles School of Public Health found that pregnant women exposed to elevated amounts of ozone and carbon monoxide pollution were at higher risk for having babies with birth defects. The risk of a ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart) was three times higher in babies born to exposed women. The study suggests that reductions in pollution levels can reduce birth defects. Human population studies such as this are instrumental in identifying risk factors for birth defects.
Ritz B, Yu F, Fruin S, Chapa G, Shaw GM, Harris JA. Ambient air pollution and risk of birth defects in southern California. Am J Epidemiol. 2002;155:17-25.