A Roundup of
Recent Health News on Aging
12 Tablets vs. 52 The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first monthly pill to treat osteoporosis -- the brittle bone disease that puts 44 million Americans at higher risk of fracture -- in post-menopausal women.
Like its chief rival Fosamax, the new drug Boniva (ibandronate sodium) is a bisphosphonate that can slow bone loss and reduce the chance of fractures. But unlike Fosamax, which is taken weekly, Boniva is taken only once a month. Boniva is expected to reach pharmacies later this month.
Because of the risk of esophageal erosion, stomach ulcers and other serious problems, people who take bisphosphonates need to remain upright for an extended period after taking the drugs. While Fosamax users need to sit or stand for at least 30 minutes, Boniva users are advised to do so for an hour.
Predictors of Prostate Therapy Whether a man diagnosed with prostate cancer chooses surgery or radiation therapy over "watchful waiting" appears to be influenced by his marital status and age. Married men and men under 70 are both more likely to opt for medical intervention, finds a study in the journal Cancer.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center analyzed data from inpatient records from 1995 to 1999. Married men under 70 were more likely than unmarried men of the same age group to choose one of the treatment options rather than wait to see how fast the disease was progressing (86 percent vs. 75 percent); they were also more likely to choose surgery (65 percent vs. 47 percent).
For married men 70 and over, 61 percent chose treatment versus 44 percent of similar age unmarried men. The prostate surgery group was 24 percent vs. 14 percent.
Researchers suggest that "unmarried men are more likely to lack social supports that would encourage aggressive interventions."
Fit at Heart Starting a regular exercise regimen late in life reduces development of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, according to a study in the journal Diabetes Care.
Researchers at the University of Western Ontario looked at the effect of fitness training on metabolic markers for cardiovascular disease in healthy but initially sedentary people aged 55 to 75. One group of 161 participants began regular supervised fitness training. Another 136 stayed inactive.
After 10 years, 11 percent of those in the active group and 28 percent of the sedentary ones exhibited the metabolic syndrome -- a combination of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and obesity. Among the active participants, moving from low to higher fitness levels was associated with fewer metabolic markers than staying at the lowest fitness level.
The active people showed a 3.5 percent increase in fitness over 10 years; sedentary participants' fitness declined 13.8 percent.
Obesity Management A healthy diet and regular exercise should be first-line prescriptions for all obese adults, according to new guidelines published this week by the American College of Physicians (ACP). Weight-loss drugs, advised the group, should be reserved for patients unable to meet weight-loss goals through behavioral changes. Surgery is recommended only for morbidly obese patients (those with a body mass index, or BMI, over 40) who have obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.