This Weight-Loss Strategy May Not Help Your Knees

This Weight-Loss Strategy May Not Help Your Knees

Weight loss from dieting can slow the progression of knee arthritis in overweight people, according to a new study.

But losing pounds from exercise alone will not help preserve those aging knees, the researchers found.

Obesity is a major risk factor for painful knee osteoarthritis — degeneration of cartilage caused by wear and tear. Weight loss can slow the disease, but it wasn’t clear until now if the method of weight loss made a difference.

Apparently, it does.

“These results add to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet,” said lead author Dr. Alexandra Gersing.

Gersing made her comments in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). She’s with the University of California, San Francisco’s department of radiology and biomedical imaging.

The study included 760 overweight or obese adults who had mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis or were at risk for it. The participants were divided into a “control group” of patients who lost no weight, and a group who lost weight through either a combination of diet and exercise, diet alone, or exercise alone.

After eight years, cartilage degeneration was much lower in the weight-loss group than in the control group. However, that was true only of people who lost weight through diet and exercise, or diet alone, the investigators found.

Study participants who exercised without changing their diet lost as much weight as those who slimmed down through diet plus exercise or diet alone, but there was no significant difference in cartilage degeneration compared to the control group.

The study was scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the annual meeting of the RSNA, in Chicago. Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more on knee arthritis.

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, news release, Nov. 28, 2017

Smoking Linked to Frailty in Seniors

Smoking Linked to Frailty in Seniors

Seniors who smoke may be more likely to become frail, a new British study suggests.

Researchers tracked more than 2,500 people 60 and older in England and found that current smoking boosted that risk by about 60 percent. The scientists determined that the participants were frail if they had at least three of five conditions: unintentional weight loss, self-reported exhaustion, weakness, slow walking speed, and low physical activity.

Frail people are at higher risk of problems such as falls, broken bones and hospitalization. Researchers have also linked frailty to poor quality of life and dementia.

Interestingly, the researchers found that former smokers didn’t face a higher risk of frailty, and it didn’t matter if they’d quit within the past 10 years or earlier. In fact, their risks of frailty were about the same as those who had never smoked.

The research team also found evidence that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a respiratory condition that is typically brought on by years of smoking, boosts the risk of frailty.

But the study did not prove that smoking caused frailty risk to rise, just that there was an association.

The study was published recently in the journal Age & Ageing.

“Our study showed that current smoking is a risk factor of developing frailty. Additional analyses revealed that COPD seems a main factor on the causal pathway from smoking towards frailty,” study author Dr. Gotaro Kojima said in a journal news release. “But those who quit smoking did not carry over the risk of frailty.”

Kojima is geriatrics specialist from University College London.

More information

For details about how to quit smoking, visit the

SOURCE: Oxford University Press, press release, Aug. 17, 2017

How You Think About Your Arthritis Makes a Difference

How You Think About Your Arthritis Makes a Difference

How well you cope with knee arthritis depends a lot on your mental outlook, a new study suggests.

Despite often-debilitating pain, people who remain confident in their ability to move about end up more active than their less confident peers, researchers found. Studies have shown that physical activity may be one of the best ways to reduce and manage symptoms of osteoarthritis.

The Pennsylvania State University study was based on 135 adults with knee arthritis.

“On days when patients felt more confident in their ability to be active, they indeed took more steps and spent more time in moderate-intensity activity, despite their level of pain that day,” said study lead author Ruixue Zhaoyang.

What’s more, “this positive effect of patients’ confidence on their actual physical activity was found for patients with varying degrees of pain in the morning,” added Zhaoyang, a post-doctoral fellow with the university’s Center for Healthy Aging.

The researchers also observed that predicting individual activity levels was best done by focusing on someone’s personal confidence, rather than comparing them to someone else.

“It’s all about what you think you’re able to do,” Zhaoyang said.

The findings “suggest that future physical activity interventions for people with osteoarthritis should target patients’ confidence in their ability to be active,” said Zhaoyang.

But the key, she said, will be to focus on boosting each individual’s confidence patterns, and not on some universal benchmark.

Arthritis is a major cause of chronic pain for many adults. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than one-third of American seniors have osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear form of the disease. Symptoms typically include joint pain, swelling and stiffness.

Such patients are often caught in a catch-22 situation. While research has shown that physical activity is effective for pain and overall function, the ongoing pain makes it hard to meet federal recommendations for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity activity a week.

Not exercising leads to greater stiffness and deterioration in muscle strength, the researchers said.

For this study, the investigators wanted to see how someone’s “self-efficacy” in the morning affected their day-to-day living with arthritis. This term refers to the degree to which people feel confident in their capacity to do or achieve something.

The researchers used accelerometers to track each participant’s total number of steps and the physical intensity of their daily activities over roughly three weeks.

Each morning the patients also noted how confident they felt in their ability to keep active, their pain level, and their overall mood.

The research team found that those who felt more confident in the morning about their ability to get around did actually move more throughout the day. This was so despite shifting levels of pain, mood or support from a spouse.

The study was published recently in the journal Health Psychology.

Fracture Risk Higher for Seniors With Diabetes

Fracture Risk Higher for Seniors With Diabetes

Seniors with type 2 diabetes may be at increased risk for fractures. And researchers think they know why.

“Fracture in older adults with type 2 diabetes is a highly important public health problem and will only increase with the aging of the population and growing epidemic of diabetes,” said study author Dr. Elizabeth Samelson.

Samelson and her colleagues used special medical scans to assess more than 1,000 people over a three-year study period. The investigators found that older adults with type 2 diabetes had bone weakness that cannot be measured by standard bone density testing.

“Our findings identify skeletal deficits that may contribute to excess fracture risk in older adults with diabetes and may ultimately lead to new approaches to improve prevention and treatment,” said Samelson, of Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research in Boston.

Fractures among seniors with osteoporosis — the age-related bone-thinning disease — are a major concern. Such fractures can lead to decreased quality of life, disability and even death, as well as significant health care costs, she said in an institute news release.

Even those with normal or higher bone density than their peers appeared to have a higher fracture risk if they had type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.

Specifically, these people had a 40 percent to 50 percent increased risk of hip fracture, the findings showed. This is considered the most serious type of osteoporosis-related fracture.

The study authors said that better understanding of the various factors that influence bone strength and fractures will aid prevention efforts.

The report was published Sept. 20 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on bone health.

SOURCE: Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research, news release, Sept. 20, 2017

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