Frontline: Lower odds of osteoarthritis; hearing aids and dementia risk; Parkinson’s disease symptoms

Diabetes Drug Linked with Lower Odds of Osteoarthritis

Metformin may help reduce the odds of developing osteoarthritis (OA) in people who have type 2 diabetes, according to research published March 20, 2023, in JAMA Network Open. In the study of more than 40,000 adults who had type 2 diabetes, about half took the medication metformin, while the other half took a sulfonylurea, such as glipizide (Glucotrol), tolazamide (Tolinase), or glyburide (Glynase, DiaBeta). Participants who took metformin had a 24 percent lower risk of developing OA than participants who took a sulfonylurea. Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs in the knee, hip, and hand joints, and can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion.

Hearing Aids May Help Reduce Dementia Risk

Untreated hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of dementia, according to a study published online April 13, 2023, in The Lancet Public Health. However, people who used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss had dementia risks similar to those without hearing loss. The study included more than 437,000 participants with an average age of 56 at the study’s outset. After an average follow-up period of 12.1 years, the researchers found that participants with untreated hearing loss were 42 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who had no hearing loss. How does hearing loss affect dementia risk? One theory is that reduced auditory input that occurs with hearing loss may produce degeneration in areas of the brain involved with processing auditory information and cognitive function. Hearing loss has also been linked with loneliness and depression, both of which have been tied to a higher risk of dementia. These results emphasize the importance of using hearing aids if you suffer from hearing loss. Today’s hearing aids are much smaller and barely visible, and many are more affordable than they used to be.

Ultrasound Procedure May Help Ease Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease symptoms, which include involuntary movements and motor impairment, may be alleviated with a new type of noninvasive treatment, according to a study published Feb. 23, 2023, in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the study, people with Parkinson’s disease were assigned to either a treatment group or a control group that received a sham treatment. The treatment group underwent focused ultrasound ablation, which targeted a small cluster of neurons in the brain. In the treatment group, 69 percent of participants reported improvements in motor function and fewer involuntary movements after three months, compared with 32 percent in the control group. Of the participants who had improvements, 77 percent continued to experience beneficial results nine months later. The researchers noted that additional studies are needed to determine the effect and safety of this technique; however, the results offer hope that noninvasive treatments may be available in the future to help relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

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