Frontline: Fracture Risk; Artificial Sweeteners; Heart-Healthy Changes

Calculating Fracture Risk

To determine a woman’s risk of bone fracture for the next 10 years, doctors consider her bone mineral density (BMD) and whether she has suffered a previous fracture. Now, researchers have discovered that using just one measurement of bone density and an assessment of fracture history can predict a postmenopausal woman’s fracture risk for up to 25 years. The research, which was published July 18, 2017 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, also revealed that women over age 75 have a very high risk of hip fracture. Since hip fracture can cause permanent disability, loss of independence, or death, and about 75 percent of hip fractures occur in women, the researchers suggested fracture risks should be assessed and treatment considered for even the oldest women who are at highest risk. If you have a fracture, ask your doctor to order a BMD scan if you have not already had one, and discuss treatment options and fracture prevention strategies if your BMD reveals you have osteoporosis.

Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Weight Gain

Researchers who analyzed 37 studies that included more than 400,000 people have found a link between artificial sweetener consumption, weight gain, and a higher risk of chronic diseases. In seven studies with a follow-up period of six months or less, using artificial sweeteners was not consistently linked to a decrease in body weight, body mass index (BMI), or waist circumference. In 30 long-term studies, a significant association was seen between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and increases in measures of body weight, BMI, and waist circumference, as well as a greater risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. The review appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on July 17, 2017.

Many People Unwilling to Make Heart-Healthy Changes

A survey of more than 47,000 adults revealed that about one in five people who have at least five modifiable risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables, and a sedentary lifestyle, don’t think they should do anything to improve their health. Researchers used information from questionnaires to determine how many risk factors each person had. Nearly 20 percent of those with the highest risk of heart disease didn’t feel a change was needed. Among those who acknowledged the need to adopt a more heart-healthy lifestyle, more than half said they would be hindered in their efforts by poor willpower or work and family responsibilities. The researchers said that doctors need to talk more with their patients about how lifestyle affects the risk of heart disease and how to make beneficial changes in their behaviors.

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