Monthly Archives: October 2013

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Vitamin D may not strengthen bones

2016-01-26T16:44:26+00:00 October 15th, 2013|Medical Practice|

"Bad news for osteoporosis sufferers: Vitamin D supplements 'do not help bone health'," The Independent warns. The claim comes after the publication of a major study into the effects of vitamin D supplements on bone density. Bone density weakens as we get older – with post-menopausal women being at particular risk due to the effects that changes in hormone levels can have on bone density. This can increase the risk of fractures, such as hip fractures. Vitamin D supplements – which are estimated to generate millions of pounds of profit for the dietary supplements industry – have been marketed as a way of preventing bone weakening. But the study in question throws doubt on this claim. The study pooled the findings of 23 published studies. The results showed that vitamin D increased bone density by a small amount in just one site (femoral neck) of five sites tested. The effect was very small, and was reported to be unlikely to be clinically significant for preventing osteoporosis or fracture. The conclusion that taking vitamin D does not appear to increase bone density on its own seems credible. Although the study didn’t directly test a link to bone fracture it did point to other research that showed that vitamin D might also be ineffective in this scenario. The UK guidance on vitamin D supplementation is being reviewed and will take into account the best available evidence to inform its recommendations. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet. The media reporting was broadly accurate with some media outlets focusing on the science while other stories focused more on [...]

Curved sole shoes no better than flat sole shoes

2017-04-21T11:13:31+00:00 October 15th, 2013|Exercise, Lifestyle|

"Shoes with curved unstable soles are no better than traditional trainers for reducing lower back pain," BBC News reports, after a small but well-designed study found no significant benefit in people wearing "rocker sole" shoes. The study involved 115 adults with chronic lower back pain who were randomised into two groups: rocker sole trainers or normal trainers. They were asked to wear these trainers for at least two hours a day over the course of a year. They were also asked to exercise once a week for four weeks and wear their trainers to these sessions. The good news was that in all groups back pain improved to some degree. However, the rocker sole-style footwear was no better (or no worse) than flat sole trainers in reducing disability or pain scores. For a number of measures the rockers actually fared worse than their flat sole counterparts, including satisfaction with the trainers and a clinically important reduction in self-reported disability. The study had many strengths, including its randomised design and realistic treatment conditions, which involved prescribing shoes plus exercise rather than just shoes. However, a general limitation of the study is that it only recruited people with chronic lower back pain, so the effect of the rocker shoes on other musculoskeletal conditions was not tested. Larger studies assessing pain and disability over a longer period of time would be able to confirm or refute these findings, but initially – and in light of the strengths mentioned above – they appear reliable. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from UK-based hospitals and universities in collaboration with international partners. It was funded by Masai GB Ltd, a footwear manufacturer specialising in rocker sole ranges. Because of the largely neutral findings of the study, it is clear [...]

An hour a day of walking may cut breast cancer risk

2016-01-26T16:44:26+00:00 October 8th, 2013|Cancer, Exercise|

“Women who walk for an hour a day can cut their chance of breast cancer by 14%,” The Guardian reports. A new study has found that even moderate regular exercise is associated with lower risk of cancer. This US cancer prevention study involved over 73,000 postmenopausal women who were tracked for 17 years. During this time 6% of the women developed breast cancer. The researchers then looked back to see whether reported time spent walking, sitting or in recreational physical activity was linked to risk of developing breast cancer. The researchers found that the most physically active women had 25% reduced cancer risk compared to the least active. Nearly half the women in the study said walking was their only form of exercise. And for these women, those who walked seven or more hours a week had reduced risk, estimated to be around 14% compared to those who walked three or less hours. The link persisted even with adjustment for other hormonal factors and body mass index (BMI) or weight gain. The study does not prove that exercise alone is directly responsible for the decreased risk, as other lifestyle factors may be involved. For example, women who do regularly exercise may also adopt other healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet. Nevertheless, walking as a form of exercise is accessible, free and good for the heart and for weight control. So the finding that it may also protect against breast cancer is welcome news. Read more about the benefits of walking. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from the American Cancer Society and was also funded by the Society. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The findings of the study were reported accurately [...]

Tackling teen obesity a key to five meals a day

2017-04-21T11:13:31+00:00 October 8th, 2013|Food and Diet, Obesity|

"The cure for teen obesity? Eating five times a day," is the advice on the Mail Online website. It reports on a study that looked at how frequently a large number of teenagers ate their daily meals, and whether this might affect the impact of genetic risk factors for being obese. A number of genetic variants have been identified as being associated with an increased risk of an individual becoming obese. The researchers found that in adolescents who ate five meals a day (three standard meals plus two snacks), genetic risk factors seemed to have less of an effect on body mass index (BMI). However, the main limitation of this study is that meal frequency was assessed at the same time as BMI, so researchers can't say for certain whether meal frequency was affecting BMI or vice versa. They also didn't have information about what the participants ate, so couldn't see how the number of calories consumed compared between those eating five meals a day and those who did not. Although this study by itself is not conclusive, there is a growing interest in how our eating patterns, and not just what we eat, is linked to our risk of being overweight. It is hoped that a better understanding of these links will help people know how best to maintain a healthy weight. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and other research centres in Finland, the UK and France. It was funded by the Academy of Finland and the Nordic Centre of Excellence on SYSDIET (systems biology in controlled dietary interventions and cohort studies). The study was published in the peer-reviewed open access journal PLoS One, which can be read online or downloaded for free. The Mail [...]