Friday, September 09, 2011

The Daily Drill: September 9, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments for your day.

As Sports Medicine Surges, Hope and Hype Outpace Proven Treatments
Until she tore her hamstring a year and a half ago, Tina Basle ran marathons. Since then, she has been on a desperate search for a cure.

It took her from doctor to doctor, cost her thousands of dollars and led her to try nearly everything sports medicine has to offer — an M.R.I. to show the extent of the injury, physical therapy that included ultrasound and laser therapy, strength training, an injection of platelet-rich plasma (or P.R.P.), a cortisone shot, another cortisone shot.

Finally, in February, she gave up.

“I decided this is never going to heal, so let’s get on with it,” she said.

And so Ms. Basle, a 44-year-old digital media consultant who lives in Manhattan, started running anyway. She has lost a lot of speed and endurance. And, she added, “the stupid hamstring is really no better.”

Medical experts say her tale of multiple futile treatments is all too familiar and points to growing problems in sports medicine, a medical subspecialty that has been experiencing explosive growth. Part of the field’s popularity, among patients and doctors alike, stems from the fact that celebrity athletes, desperate to get back to playing after an injury, have been trying unproven treatments, giving the procedures a sort of star appeal.

But now researchers are questioning many of the procedures, including new ones that often have no rigorous studies to back them up. “Everyone wants to get into sports medicine,” said Dr. James Andrews, a sports medicine orthopedist in Gulf Breeze, Fla., and president-elect of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.
Weight Watchers Produces Bigger 'Losers' Than Standard Weight-Loss Care
Dieters may be more likely to slim down if they are referred to a commercial program such as Weight Watchers than if they battle the bulge with primary health care providers alone, a new study finds.

Overweight adults in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom who were referred to Weight Watchers by a primary health care provider lost about twice as much weight over a year as dieters assigned to standard weight-loss care, according to the study, which was funded by Weight Watchers and published Sept. 8 in The Lancet.

"The greater weight loss in participants assigned to the commercial program was accompanied by greater reductions in waist circumference and fat mass than in participants assigned to standard care, which would be expected to lead to a reduction in the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease," the researchers said in a journal news release.

The study involved 772 overweight and obese adults who were randomly assigned to a year of diet care overseen by a primary care professional or to 12 months' free membership at a local Weight Watchers group.

Fifty-four percent of the standard-care dieters completed the 12-month study, compared to 61 percent of the Weight Watchers group.

Those who stuck with their standard diet lost an average of about 7 pounds, while those who attended Weight Watchers shed nearly 15 pounds on average. Also, the Weight Watchers participants were more than three times as likely to have dropped 5 percent or more of their body weight compared to the standard dieters, said the researchers.

A quarter of those randomly assigned to work with a primary care professional did lose 5 percent of their body weight, however -- a feat the researchers said confirmed the capability of primary care professionals to deliver the support and care needed for people to lose weight and keep it off during a year's time.

The researchers suggested that the structure of the commercial program -- including group support, weekly weighing, instruction about diet and physical activity, and motivation -- can be a clinically useful tool for battling overweight and obesity on a large scale. However, they acknowledged that a cost-benefit analysis and further research is needed to see if the gains (or, in this case, losses) could be maintained over time.

The researchers also said the findings suggested that overweight people were more likely to lose weight if they were referred to a commercial weight-loss program by a physician or another primary care provider than if they enrolled on their own.
Kids who live with smokers have more ear infections
Kids whose parents smoke are more likely to get ear infections and have hearing problems, according to a new review paper.

When moms lit up, kids were also almost twice as likely to need surgery for recurrent ear infections or similar problems, researchers reported.

The findings come from a combination of 61 past studies. While they can't prove that smoke exposure causes ear infections, researchers suggested that if that's the case, hundreds of thousands of ear infections may be due to parents' smoking each year.

"It's pretty impressive, especially since ear infections cause enormous pain," said Dr. Michael Weitzman, who studies the effects of parental smoking at New York University Medical Center and was not involved in the study.

The new paper "once again highlights a common child health problem that is profoundly influenced by mothers' smoking," he told Reuters Health, "and it focuses our attention more than previous studies have on it resulting in surgical procedures for children."

Taken together, the studies showed that kids living with a smoker had a 37 percent higher risk of any "middle ear disease," including ear infections and hearing problems -- and a 62 percent higher risk if the household smoker was their mom.

When mothers smoked, kids were also 86 percent more likely to get surgery for a middle ear condition, including recurrent ear infections, than if no smokers were in the house.

About three out of four kids have had an ear infection by the time they are three years old.
Enjoy your morning!

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