Archive for the ‘BONES’ Category

How the Heart Can Harden, Biologically

Saturday, November 19th, 2016
With age or injury, the soft tissues of the heart can turn to bone. Is this deadly process reversible?

enrique_simonet__la_autopsia_1890 image

Take heart: researchers are probing how the hard-hearted get that way, and whether they can be turned back. (“La autopsia,” Enrique Simonet / Wikimedia Commons)

In matters of the heart, a lot can go wrong. As we age, high blood pressure can overburden this tenacious muscle, causing stroke or heart failure. Smoking cigarettes may harm your heart and blood vessels, as well as damaging individual blood cells. Or the natural effects of old age can render the heart simply too weak to do its job, manifesting in tiredness, shortness of breath or even death. But the heart can also harden, its soft muscle changing into bone.

“The cardiovascular system is one soft tissue that gets calcified very easily,” said Arjun Deb, a heart researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles, referring to the accumulation of calcium salts in the tissues of the heart. This is a bad development: Calcification in blood vessels can eventually block them up, and in the heart, it can actually block the electric signals that keep the cardiac muscles beating. Normal aging, conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes, or even physical trauma to the chest can trigger heart calcification—but the exact hardening mechanism is still largely unknown.

Now researchers have shed light on this enigmatic process by looking at individual cells to see exactly how the flexible tissues of the heart and blood vessels stiffen, impairing beating and circulation. In a study published yesterday in the journal Stem Cell, Deb and his team sought to find out the cause for deadly heart calcification and how the process could potentially be stopped in its tracks. That would be heartening news. Calcification in the heart and blood vessels is one of the main factors in heart disease, which kills about 610,000 Americans annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Armed with the knowledge that heart injury can often result in calcification, the researchers focused their efforts on fibroblasts, connective tissue cells that play an important role in healing wounds. After an injury, fibrocyte cells in the affected area are activated into fibroblasts, which generate connective tissue for healing. Some of these fibroblasts go awry in soft tissue and become like osteoblasts, the cells that produce bone in the skeletal system.

By genetically tagging the fibroblasts in lab mice and then causing various types of injuries to the animals, the researchers were able to see the nearby fibroblast cells turn into cells resembling osteoblasts. Scientists then took these transformed cells and transplanted them into the skin of healthy mice, where the mutant cells began calcifying the rodents’ skin within a month. When grown in lab dishes, harvested human fibroblast cells did the same thing. The mere presence of these osteoblast-type cells, it seemed, worked to calcify surrounding tissues.

This new understanding helped scientists identify a potential mechanism for preventing a fatal hardening of the heart from ever taking place. While studying these mutating fibroblasts, Deb and his team noticed that the cells started to overproduce a protein called ENPP1 in response to heart injury. When they injected an osteoporosis drug into the mice after injuries that usually resulted in heart calcification, not a single mouse developed heart hardening. The drug seemed to stymie the actions of ENPP1 and thus completely prevent calcification, Deb said.

Unfortunately, it seems that this treatment only works when used before the calcification takes place. This kind of preventative treatment would be impractical in humans, since it would be impossible to know when precisely heart damage takes place, says Dr. Paolo Raggi, academic director of the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton, Canada. Raggi, who was not involved in this study, also expressed caution at whether these results in mice would also work in humans.

Nevertheless, he said the researchers did “a fantastic job” at discovering a pathway for how heart calcification occurs. “It’s unbelievable the amount of work they did for one simple question,” Raggi says, noting that the pieces of evidence had been there previously, but that they had not yet been formed into “an elegant story.” “I think there’s definitely potential for future development into this particular field,” he adds.

Deb and his team are already looking ahead to see whether it might be possible not only to prevent, but to reverse a hardened heart. Their next goal is to find out how and why ENPP1 causes calcification after heart injury, in hopes that there might be a way to reverse the hardening. And since this same protein appears to also be involved in calcification in other soft tissues where it shouldn’t occur, Deb hopes that future research on this topic will one day lead to a treatment that can prevent and heal calcification in any part of the body.

“There is promise,” Deb says. In other words: Don’t lose heart.


Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013



One in three women over the age of 50 is likely to find herself gritting what’s left of her teeth, in a bid to stoically bear with bones screaming in pain. 50 is far away, you think, as you head out post sunset for some sumptuous food with an undetermined nutritional quotient and cocktails that will leave you high on life but a little low on bone mass. 50 or not, osteoporosis may be closer than you think; Dr Pawan Nath, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Seven Hills Hospital reports, “a rising incidence of osteoporosis in women as young as 26.”

With most studies using a Caucasian database as the benchmark of peak bone mass and the DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan being a little too expensive for a lot of  Indian women, there’s not much evidence to support this observation. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, the average person gains bone mass until the age of 20-25; the bone mass level then remains stable until 45-50. Osteoporosis in younger people is rare, but can occur due to secondary factors such as malabsorption diseases, steroid use, anorexia and so on. In addition, today’s sedentary lifestyles (insufficient exercise, inadequate exposure to sunlight, improper nutrition, etc) are affecting the building of bone mass in young people, which could be detrimental to their future bone health.

Mumbai-based orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Bhupal Deokar, suggests that it’s more likely that younger women are suffering from osteomalacia, bone softening due to insufficient mineralization and osteopenia, lower than normal bone mass density (BMD). But that does not detract from the fact that the calcium and vitamin D deficiencies associated with these could blow up into osteoporosis if not attended to.

According to data provided by Dr Ambrish Mithal, of Medanta Hospital, New Delhi, who is board member and lead author of a soon-to-be-published International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Asia-Audit, 2013, sources estimate that 50 million people in India are either osteoporotic or have low bone mass. There is no evidence that the age of onset of osteoporosis in dropping.

Nonetheless, with approximately 80% of the urban Indian population estimated to have vitamin D deficiencies, osteoporosis remains a major concern. A multi-centre study carried out by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has confirmed data from smaller, single centre studies, revealing that Indians have lower BMD than their North American counterparts. The lower BMD in Indians is attributed to nutritional deficiencies as well as genetic and skeletal size differences.

Now, while we can’t control our genetic predispositions, we can control what we eat and how we live. Dr Sushil Sharma, Chairman of the Arthritis Foundation of India, advises adopting a banking approach to bone development by investing as much nutrition (calcium and vitamin D, in particular) and weight-bearing exercise (running, playing field sports, etc) in our bones before the age of 30. “After this you can only withdraw”, he warns.

The sun remains the single largest source of Vitamin D, and catching some sun between the hours of 11.00 and 3.00 is highly recommended. Yes, you read right! The noon time sun is good for you. Another thing you may want to note is that sunscreens hamper Vitamin D absorption. And while the milk debate may rage on till kingdom come, the truth is that for the Indian population, milk remains the most available and affordable source of calcium. Physician recommended doses of elemental calcium and Vitamin D have proved effective; however, going beyond the prescribed doses of Vitamin D can cause toxicity. Drugs such as bisphosphonates and teriparatides are not exactly side-effect free.

Our bones build strength and density up to the age of 30, maybe 35, based on our metabolism. Post this, the natural ageing process means you’ll lose bone mass faster than you can build it.
And once menopause kicks in and estrogen goes missing in action, it will become really difficult to replenish bone. Our life expectancy is rising and with career opportunities opening up across the board, that gender-tinted glass ceiling may well be museum-worthy one day, but the fact remains that if you’re 25 and you’d rather not have a dowager’s hump a quarter of a century down the line, the time to bone up on Vitamin D and minerals is NOW.


Henry Sapiecha

rainbow line


Monday, August 26th, 2013



Sometimes medical advances don’t come from the medical field at all.

Engineers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology have designed a super-strong glass implant with a scaffolding-like structure that is able to grow new bone.

“We have good material and engineering skills,” said lead researcher Len Rahaman, “and when you put those two together, it’s allowed us to use our skills to produce a bioactive glass that is strong enough to repair large structural bone defects.”

Bioactive means the material reacts with body fluids and converts into living bone, so it does not need to be removed.

In previous work, the engineers proved the glass implant they developed using robocasting – a computer-controlled technique to ensure a uniform structure – could withstand the weight and pressure experienced by long bones in the body like those in the arms and legs.

Their latest research using the skulls of rats, showed that the porous scaffolding design quickly bonded to the bone and promoted a significant amount of new bone growth within six weeks. The research was published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia.

“You can have the strongest material in the world, but it also must encourage bone growth in a reasonable amount of time,” Rahaman said.

The material could someday be used to repair large bone defects that are the result of cancer, war or car crashes.

Current treatments to structural bone repair involve either porous metal, which can heal poorly and become infected; or a bone transplant from a cadaver, which carries risk of disease. Bone also can be taken from one part of the body to another, but the amount is limited, and the result can be pain and poor healing at the donor site.

The materials for the glass implant are inexpensive and easy to obtain, Rahaman said. “If it turns out to be a viable solution, we could actually reduce health care costs.”

Next, the researchers are testing the glass implant in the large leg bones of rats, which bear more weight. “Now that we know the bone will grow into the scaffold, we are testing it under more realistic conditions,” Rahaman said.

The next steps would be studying the implant in larger animals and winning approval to test the design in humans.

Problems may arise, but the engineering team is ready with solutions: adding small amounts of silver to the glass implant could prevent infection, and doping it with copper should promote the growth of blood vessels if needed to keep the bone healthy.

Rahaman said he’s working with an orthopedic surgeon and a bone biologist, but the research “requires use of our engineering skills”.



Henry Sapiecha

rainbow line



Thursday, February 21st, 2013


A MARYBOROUGH QLD AUSTRALIA mum who hasn’t been able to open her mouth properly for more than 10 years is set to undergo major surgery to replace her lower and upper jaws this week.

Michelle Flaherty, who suffers from juvenile arthritis, has had permanently clenched teeth for the past 10 years after surgery failed to fix the problem more than 15 years ago.

“They took a piece of my rib and put it up near my jaw,” she said.

“The bone was supposed to grow, but instead it fused over the jaw and that’s what’s caused my jaw to lock.”
Lady Bird Lingerie

When Ms Flaherty goes under the knife tomorrow, it will be three years since she was supposed to have her jaw replacement at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

It was cancelled after a communication breakdown between herself and hospital staff – and Ms Flaherty was returned to the bottom of the waiting list.

“I’m very nervous,” she said.

“But I’m looking forward to being able to talk and eat normally again.”

Ms Flaherty said doctors would be replacing her jaws with a Lorenz TMJ – a prosthesis made from solid titanium.

“They haven’t told me much about it, but from what I’ve read I’m feeling pretty confident that the surgery will work,” she said.

Ms Flaherty was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis about five years of age and was featured in Women’s Weekly at age 12.

She still bears the scars from the many leg operations she has undergone since then.

“Arthritis in children was relatively unknown back then and the magazine did a story to make people aware,” she said.

She is expected to be in hospital for up to a week.

Food Morning

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012


Scoliosis is a lateral deformity of the spine, that most often shows up in young children and adolescents. Besides resulting in disfigurement, in some cases it can also cause breathing problems. In severe cases, if the child is still growing, telescoping steel rods are surgically implanted alongside the deformed section of the spine, in order to straighten it. Unfortunately, repeat surgeries are necessary every six months, in order to lengthen the rods as the child grows. Now, however, scientists from the University of Hong Kong are reporting success in the first human trials of a system that incorporates rods which can be lengthened using magnets instead of surgery.

As its name suggests, the magnetically-controlled growing rod (MCGR) system uses magnets held outside of the body to engage and then extend the ends of the implanted rods. This can be done relatively quickly in a non-invasive outpatient procedure. The surgery required for the lengthening of traditional rods (a process known as a “distraction”), by contrast, requires hospitalization and general anesthesia. Not only is this unpleasant for the children, but it also causes them to miss school, involves considerable medical expenses, and often also requires at least one parent to miss work while the child recuperates.

In the recent trials, MCGRs were implanted in five test subjects. Once every month since, those subjects have been going into a clinic to get those rods lengthened. Two of the patients are now at the 24 month-mark of their treatment. The mean degree of their spinal deformities was 67º before implantation, but is now down to 29º. Their spines have grown at a normal rate, and they have reported no pain or other problems throughout the process.

“Whether MCGR leads to significantly better outcomes than traditional growing rods is not yet known, but early results are positive and the avoidance of open distractions is a great improvement,” the scientists said in a report on their research. “Additionally, this new growing rod system has potentially widespread applications in other disorders that could benefit from a non-invasive procedure to correct abnormalities. MCGR could assist with correction of limb abnormalities, thoracic insufficiency syndrome, limb lengthening, limb salvage procedures, or any disorders or injuries in which slow, progressive change to bone structures is needed.”

Source: Lancet

Published by Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, August 4th, 2011

The West Australian government has orders an independent audit

into management of state housing tenants after the skeletal remains of an elderly man were discovered in a unit up to two years after his death.

Seventy-five-year-old Robert Roll’s corpse went undetected until July 7, despite neighbours urging housing department officials to check on him.

Housing Minister Troy Buswell said he was not satisfied with the explanation provided by the Department of Housing, whose records incorrectly stated that Mr Roll’s home had been inspected in 2010.

“The information I received contained discrepancies in regard to the last contact the department had with Mr Roll, and my main concern is that the department’s systems showed that an inspection was undertaken in 2010, when an inspection did not actually occur,” Mr Buswell said.

“Whether this was caused due to human error or improper actions, we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“The audit will examine the circumstances around the discovery of Mr Roll’s body, as well as the department’s tenancy management actions throughout the history of Mr Rolls’ tenancy.

“It will also look at the actions taken to identify and test safety devices in Mr Roll’s unit, and overall tenancy management at the complex at 601 Wellington Street.”

The audit will also consider the extent to which the department has implemented the recommendations of the Auditor General’s 2010 report into the fitting and maintenance of safety devices, records systems and procedures such as property inspections.

“While the department is finalising a report on its own response to the Auditor General’s report, it seems logical to have an independent body also scrutinise this response, particularly when we are engaging someone to look at similar issues relating to Mr Roll’s case,” he said.

“I expect the audit will identify any key concerns or weaknesses in the department’s management of Mr Roll’s tenancy and any continuing issues around systems and procedures, with recommendations as to how these may be improved.”

The audit will be undertaken by KPMG. It will commence this month and is expected to take eight weeks.

Police said last month that it appeared Mr Roll had cancer and died of natural causes. A report has been prepared for the WA coroner.

They have since established Mr Roll was a former boilermaker, believed to be from Newcastle in England’s north but had moved to Australia several decades ago.

Residents in the same apartment block began to grow concerned when Mr Roll’s mail began piling up.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Monday, December 27th, 2010


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a form of a degenerative arthritis characterized by a functional or structural failure of one or more of the joints of the body. It is the most common form of arthritis and also a common disease among people all throughout the world in all population groups. However, several factors like age, gender, genetics, behavioral influences and ethnicity play a role in osteoarthritis risk.

It occurs equally among men and women; however, women tend to develop the symptoms of the disorder earlier than men. This often happens in women older than 45 years. Ligaments, which bind joints together, tend to become less elastic as people age, that’s why 70 to 90% of people 75 years old and up are the ones most commonly affected by osteoarthritis.

Even after years of research, no one has truly been able to define the root cause of OA. It still remains a mystery as to why particular joints are affected by osteoarthritis even if it has not suffered any injury. However, one primary cause of osteoarthritis is aging. As people age, the protein makeup of the cartilage of the joints slowly degenerate and deteriorate. In advanced cases, there is a total loss of the cartilage cushion between the bones of the joints that causes friction. Continuous use of worn joints can irritate the cartilage that causes joint pains and even limitation of joint mobility. Not only elderly people are in danger, but also athletes and laborers, may develop osteoarthritis in their later years.

In the United Kingdom, osteoarthritis is one of the most popular type of osteoarthritis in adults affecting almost 8 million people, where women are most prone to develop the condition compared to men. It affects the spine, knees and hips in the elderly and middle-aged people, causing pains and disability.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary from patient to patient. Daily activities and movements become more and more difficult as signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis develop. Some of them are as follows:

  • Pain in the affected area
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Limitation of mobility (in severe cases)

The only difference of osteoarthritis among other types of arthritis is that it does not affect any organ of the body, only joint pains with repetitive use. There can be swelling and creaking of the affected joints (crepitus). However, for severe cases, the cartilage cushion is completely lost and pain during rest and in motion is experienced, therefore limiting a person’s mobility.

Garlic against hip osteoarthritis

A relationship between body weight and osteoarthritis has been previously recognized, and although it is not completely understood yet, studies have been conducted in order to find out if dietary patterns could probably have a certain effect on the development and prevention of the condition. A study of researchers at the King’s College London and University of East Anglia also found out that women who consume a diet rich in allium, such as vegetables in the form of leeks, onions, and garlic, have lower incidence of cases of hip osteoarthritis. The study was published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders . Professor Ian Clark of University of East Anglia said that with further work and studies, this may open up a possibility of treating future cases of osteoarthritis with diet or dietary supplements.

The study of the research team involved looking at 1000 healthy female twins with no symptoms of osteoarthritis. They monitored the twins’ diet patterns, and later discovered early signs of osteoarthritis in the participants’ spine, knees and hips. They found out that those who consume a healthy diet, especially with allium rich garlic, had fewer incidence of hip osteoarthritis.

Furthermore, another research was conducted on the compounds in garlic and found out that it contains diallyl disulphide which decreases the amounts of enzymes that causes damage to the cartilage. The lead author of the Department of Twin Research at King’s College London, Dr. Frances Williams, said that these findings may pave the way for future osteoarthritis treatment as well as aid in the prevention of hip osteoarthritis. The study was funded by Arthritis Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and Dunhill Medical Trust.

Health Benefits of Garlic

We all think that garlic’s only use is to add flavor to our meals. It may be, but that’s not all. Garlic is widely known as a “cure-all” herb because of the wide range of health benefits it gives our body. While consuming garlic has been associated with foul breaths, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of garlic consumption.

Benefits of garlic are listed as follows:

  • It can help in the normalization of body functions.
  • Garlic can help stimulate white blood cells that strengthen the immune system.
  • It also helps the person avoid cardiovascular diseases. It has been known for its effects on people with high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack and diabetes.
  • It helps in the treatment and management of patients with tuberculosis; as a lung decongestant; those with weak digestion; inhibits tumor-formation and platelets clumping; fights off influenza virus; prevent vaginal infection; in the management of nicotine poisoning as well as in diabetes mellitus.

Aside from pure garlic, garlic supplement may also do the job. The Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract™ is a great choice for garlic supplements since it gives the benefit of promoting cholesterol health and healthy cardiovascular function without the odor and discomforts that other garlic supplement brings. I am using Kyolic and I highly recommend the use of this brand.

Natural Means to Prevent Osteoarthritis

Everything in our body starts and ends with proper diet, nutrition and exercise. The best way to avoid osteoarthritis is by being cautious and careful of our daily diet and by keeping the body healthy and fit.

Exercising and taking proper diet, especially calcium, may reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Make sure that the daily intake of food consists of the proper nutrients that one needs – not too much and not too less. It is observed that people who consume a healthy diet are less affected by this condition.

Taking proper precaution of the body while young, especially when indulging in hard physical activities, is the best way to avoid osteoarthritis. The daily intake of healthy foods must be coupled with the proper amount of exercise to help exercise the body’s muscles, without straining it too much. If continuous pain is experienced, consult the doctor as soon as possible, after all, early treatment and prevention is still the best way to prevent it from developing.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Friday, December 3rd, 2010

The bone destroying disease Osteoarthritis is one of the many types of arthritis that causes degeneration of the joints significantly affecting a person’s quality of life.  It is oftentimes characterized by joint stiffness, swelling in the affected area and pain.   The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases said that osteoarthritis is perhaps one of the most frequently-occurring forms of arthritis – the others being rheumatoid arthritis and gout – that affects approximately 27 million people, aged 25 or more, in the United States alone.

What is Osteoarthritis?

For many years, medical experts have devoted time, effort and money in order to determine the exact cause of osteoarthritis.  Sadly, the answers remain elusive. The damage in osteoarthritis starts at the cartilage – a tough connective tissue that is found in between joints as well as in other areas of the body such as the larynx and the outer ear – which is supposed to act as a “cushion” in order to prevent the end of two bones from rubbing unto each other. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the joints loses its elasticity and then degenerates.  In time, the cartilage may thin out, or disappear altogether, causing bones to rub unto each other leading to extreme pain.

The following factors may lead to the development of osteoarthritis:

  • Medical experts have discovered that genes, or heredity, can actually make a person more predisposed to develop osteoarthritis.  A particular gene is responsible for collagen production.  Collagen is an important protein component in cartilage.  Abnormality in the gene may lead to premature degradation of cartilage which may cause osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity puts on excessive amounts of pressure in the joints because of the excess weight, which may cause strain. The joints that are responsible in weight-bearing, such as the hip, knee and ankle joints, are the ones that are most commonly affected.
  • Being inactive for long periods may cause the joints to become stiff, dysfunctional and painful because muscles around the joint can weaken with inactivity.
  • On the other hand, overuse of the joints, or continuously exposing them to extreme, high-impact activities can cause repetitive strains and stresses. This may also lead to joint injuries.
  • It is said that the main cause of osteoarthritis is wear-and-tear.  In old age, the joints have been exposed to too much activity since childhood and this puts the person at increased risk for osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis can be debilitating.  It can significantly affect a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living sometimes causing the patient to lose independence.  Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Nodules in the fingers
  • Tenderness in the joints
  • Swelling
  • Crepitus (crackling sound upon joint movement)
  • Difficulty in movement

A Study on Osteoarthritis

The effects of osteoarthritis can be devastating.  This propels people, especially those who are in the field of medicine, to continuously look for ways to prevent the onset of the condition or to somehow slow its progression.

In line with this, a group of researchers enrolled 132 participants (66 men and 99 women whose ages ranged from 45 to 55) in the National Institutes of Health Osteoarthritis Initiative who have not exhibited signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis but whose risk for developing osteoarthritis of the knee is high.  In addition, 33 body mass index- and age-matched controls were also included in the study.

Basing on the participant’s response to the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) questionnaire, they were divided into three strength training and exercise levels.  The strength training groups were divided as to how often they performed these exercises:  none at all, minimal only and frequently.  The exercise levels were composed of sedentary, light and moderate to strenuous. Also, analysis was made on knee-bending activities.

What the Study Revealed

According to the senior author of the study, Dr. Thomas M. Link, the results revealed that joining in high impact activities like running for more than an hour daily, thrice a week or more, is linked to more cartilage degeneration and can potentially increase the risk for osteoarthritis development.  On one hand, participating in light exercise and avoiding repeated knee-bending activities can protect a person from osteoarthritis. Dr. Link is from San Francisco’s University of California, a chief of musculoskeletal imaging and a professor of radiology.

The participants were asked to undergo MRI exams, which showed that the group who engaged in light exercises and those with minimal strength training had the healthiest cartilage in the knee, as compared to the participants who either had frequent or no strength training at all. Women who indulged in moderate to strenuous exercises and did strength training were also linked to increased water content and degenerated collagen in their knees. A co-author of the study, Keegan K. Novis, B.S., R.N., said that the results suggests that performing moderate to strenuous exercises can speed up the degeneration of cartilage, putting women at a higher risk for osteoarthritis.

Moreover, the findings also indicated that doing knee-bending activities frequently, like climbing up more than 10 flights of stairs per day, squatting or kneeling for a minimum of 30 minutes daily, or lifting objects that weighs more than 25 pound, were linked to cartilage abnormalities and higher water content.


The researchers suggested that performing light exercises, like frequent walking and swimming, is a much safer choice in order to help maintain healthy cartilage and, of course, healthy joints.

How to Promote Healthy Joints Naturally

You probably have heard this many times already, but nevertheless, I’ll say it again: healthy eating helps promote a healthy body.  Contrary to what some people say, taking medications does not cure everything.  Aside from the expenses, you are also in danger of adverse effects that it can bring.  How about going for what is natural? You could start with making the decision to eat healthy, and eat foods that will help promote healthy joints.  Here are some of them:

  • Glucosamine is a compound that produces glycosaminoglycan which is needed for healthy cartilage.  Some of the foods that are rich in glucosamine include sweet almond oil, crab shells, lobster shells and shrimp shells.
  • Manganese is a mineral that helps build healthy cartilage. This supports the function of glucosamine inside the body.  Examples of food sources of manganese are nuts, green leafy vegetables, seafoods, whole grain breads and beans.
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids exert anti-inflammatory effects that helps ease swelling and pain associated with osteoarthritis.  Top food sources for Omega-3 Fatty Acids are egg yolks, walnuts, flax seeds, cod liver oil, and salmon.
  • Vitamin C helps the body in forming collagen which is a protein found in cartilage, tendons and bones.  Examples are kiwi fruit, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, papaya, potatoes, peaches, nectarines, lychees, raspberries, grapefruit, guava, black currant, orange, lemon, cabbage, cauliflower, and many more.
  • Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Building Better Bones One Glass at a Time

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  But sometimes, numbers can be just as illustrative, especially when those numbers refer to devastating medical conditions.  Follow the numbers and you’ll see what I mean:

25 –billion dollars is the estimated cost of osteoporosis-related fractures by 2025

10 – million people in the U.S have osteoporosis

34 – million people in the U.S. have low bone mass

24 – percent of people over the age of 50 who sustain a hip fracture go on to die within a year of their fracture

80 – percent of osteoporosis cases are women

5 – times more osteoporosis-related hospital visits in 2010 compared to 2000 (2000:  1.3 million; 2010:  6.3 million)

These numbers are a stark reminder that osteoporosis isn’t going away any time soon.  But why?  Why with our vast medical know-how and resources are osteoporosis cases increasing?

Well, when you consider the panoply of ways one can increase their risk for this brittle bone disease, the answer becomes clearer.  From conditions we can’t control (e.g. gender, older age, family history), to errors in judgment (e.g. smoking, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption), it seems that everything we do increases our osteoporosis risk.

But I’m of the belief that if we can’t change something, there’s no use in worrying about it.  And a lot of the things that increase our risk for osteoporosis are unavoidable. What we should worry about – and therefore change – are our behaviors and how they contribute to osteoporosis.  Because a significant chunk of the behaviors that increase our risk are what we put in our mouths.

A Tomato Juice a Day Keeps Osteoporosis at Bay?

You gotta hand it to Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.  Brillat-Savarin wasn’t a particularly noteworthy lawyer back in the 17th century, except for the time in which he wrote this:  “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

In modern day parlance, that translates to what we know as “You are what you eat.” Now, I very much doubt Brillat-Savarin had osteoporosis in mind when he wrote this, but he might as well have, because that axiom can be applied to one’s osteoporosis risk.

According to a 2006 study conducted by Tufts University researchers, women who drank cola regularly were far more likely to have lower bone mineral density than those women who didn’t drink cola.

The Tufts University researchers conducted a survey of 2,500 people whose average age was 60.  And, quite simply, as lead researcher Katherine Tucker writes in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “The more cola women drank, the lower their bone mineral density was.”

A disappointing finding, no doubt, for fans of the fizz.  But take heart and replace that can of fizzle with a glass of sizzle.

“The glass of sizzle” of which I speak is tomato juice, for a group of Torontonian researchers have found it to be osteoporosis-preventive.

University of Toronto researchers supplied four groups of middle-aged women (between 50 and 60) with varying doses of lycopene, the chemical component in tomatoes that’s much ballyhooed for its salubriousness (i.e. one group received a lycopene supplement, another received a glass of tomato juice with naturally occurring lycopene).  The only group that didn’t receive a dose of lycopene was the group taking the placebo (they didn’t know this, of course).

The researchers took blood samples from the participants every month of the four-month study.  Every month showed blood-serum level improvements, but especially at the four-month mark.  Because at that point not only did the participants’ blood-serum levels improve, but their antioxidant capacity increased as well.  Further, their oxidative stress parameters decreased.

Tucker’s findings can be found in thejournal Osteoporosis International.

Other Ways to Increase Bone Density

Tomato juice is an acquired taste, so it’s understandable if you’re not hot to trot for downing some tomato juice.  If you do, though, I’d recommend steering clear of store-bought tomato juice.  They’re exceptionally high in sodium and don’t taste nearly as good as freshly squeezed tomatoes do.  You’ll need to add some unrefined sea salt to taste, just don’t overdo it (about one teaspoon of salt should be added for every four cups of tomato juice).  Lots of healthy recipes can be found online.

But if you’re not hog-wild about the idea of drinking a glass of tomato juice every day, there are other foods you can eat to help decrease your risk for osteoporosis.  And you guessed it: calcium-fortified foods are best.

Fortunately, calcium-rich foods aren’t hard to find.  Plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and proteins are chock-full of this bone-building vitamin.  Here are three of the top calcium providers by food group:


It’s the battle of the “b’s” when it comes to vegetables, as bok choy  (one cup=158 mg), Brussels sprouts (56 mg), and butternut squash (84 mg) are all “A’s” for calcium content.


In the fruit category, it’s not the size of the fruit that matters for calcium content, as bite-size offerings like Blackcurrants (one cup=62 mg), dates (57 mg) and blackberries (42 mg) have the highest yield.


Not surprisingly, dairy sources of protein are the highest in calcium, with cheddar cheese as the runaway leader (one cup=815 mg), followed by cottage cheese (103 mg) and cream cheese (one cup=83 mg).  But if you tend to avoid dairy because of its high saturated fat content, perch (3.5 oz.=102 mg), pollock (77 mg) and sardines (3382 mg) are worthy replacements (Caution:  If you’re one of the few Americans who actually enjoy sardines, eat them sparingly.  They’re almost as saturated with sodium as store bought tomato juice is:  a whopping 505 mg for every 3.5 ounces eaten!).

Nuts, Seeds, Grains

The almighty almond takes top billing in this combined category, boasting 75 milligrams of calcium for every ounce eaten (approximately 23 whole almonds); the ancient but underused high-protein grain amaranth is the runner-up with 47 milligrams (i.e. Amaranth is used in only 40 food products on the market today), and brazil nuts’ 45 milligrams of calcium (per ounce) round out the top three.

By working any of these bone-building foods into your diet consistently, you’re giving your bones the structural integrity they need to stay strong for as long as possible.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Beating Bone Marrow Cancer

Hematologists Boost Immune

Response in Bone-Marrow

Transplant Patients

March 1, 2006 — To lessen the impact of chemotherapy on bone marrow cancer patients, hematologists are recruiting the patients’ own immune systems to help. White blood cells are extracted before a bone marrow transplant, treated to up their activity, and injected back after chemotherapy. Doctors hope to test technique on other patients with immune deficiencies, including HIV.

BALTIMORE–A heavy dose of chemo takes a huge toll on cancer patients’ bodies, making them weak and prone to infection. Now, a new, life-saving therapy is helping some cancer patients win the war against a deadly disease.

Having bone marrow cancer hasn’t slowed down Todd Ewell, but the chemotherapy to fight the disease stopped him in his tracks. “It’s kind of like if you had the worst flu in your life for about six weeks straight,” he says.

The body’s immune system takes a beating from chemotherapy. Patients can’t fight off infection or disease, but Todd’s body fought back, thanks to a new immune-boosting therapy.

Aaron Rapoport, a hematologist and oncologist at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center in Baltimore, says, “What we’re seeking to do is to harness the power of the patient’s own immune system.”

Before a bone marrow transplant, hematologists collect a patient’s own immune cells, then activate, or turn on, the cells in a lab. The enhanced cells are injected back into the patient, along with a pneumonia vaccine, jump-starting the immune system. “It will be better able to respond to infections and also be better able to attack and eliminate cancer cells that may remain,” Dr. Rapoport tells DBIS.

The new therapy worked wonders for Todd. “It’s going fantastic. It’s almost like it never happened.” His cancer is in complete remission, and now he’s focused on rebuilding his life cancer free.

Doctors are hopeful the new therapy could be tested and used to treat other people with compromised immune systems liked HIV patients and the elderly.

BACKGROUND: A new form of immunotherapy combines a vaccine with an infusion of a person’s own T-cells that have been given a “jump start” and then are grown in the laboratory. The new approach helps to restore cancer patients’ ability to fight off infection after high-dose chemotherapy. It could also one day be used to treat others with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV and the elderly.

THE STUDY: Patients with advanced myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow, received high-dose chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. They received a series of vaccinations against a common bacterial form of pneumonia as well as an injection of their own lab-enhanced immune cells. Researchers found the therapy was most effective when patients received vaccinations before the bone marrow transplant to jump-start their immune system, and then collected the “vaccine-primed” T cells, activated them in the lab, and gave them back to the patients 12 days after the transplant. Within one month, those patients showed significant improvement in their immune response. The researchers will next combine this T-cell therapy with a cancer vaccine that would target tumor cells, hopefully to one day enhance the body’s immune response to cancer.

WHAT IS IMMUNOTHERAPY? A slow or non-functioning immune system is a serious problem for cancer patients, especially those who receive intensive chemotherapy prior to bone marrow transplants. Patients are at high risk of developing infections and recurrence of their cancer. Immunotherapy stimulates a patient’s own immune system to work harder. It’s often used in conjunction with other forms of therapy — in the case of cancer, it is combined with surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. In general, immunotherapy is most likely to be effective when treating small cancers and is less effective for advanced stages of the disease.

WHAT ARE T-CELLS? T-cells are a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes, and help the immune system fight off diseases. There are two kinds of T-cells. T4 cells are “helper” cells that lead the attack against infections. T8 cells are “suppressor cells” that end the immune response, although they can also kill cancer cells and cells infected with a virus. Scientists tell T4 and T8 cells apart by the different proteins attached to the outside of each cell. The number of T4 cells in your blood tells you how healthy your immune system is. A person with a healthy immune system has an average T-cell percentage of more than 30 percent.

ABOUT CHEMOTHERAPY: Chemotherapy is a treatment for cancer, in which certain drugs (poisonous to cancer cells) are injected into the blood to kill cancer cells or to stop them from spreading. They can travel around the body and attack cancer cells wherever they find them, so chemotherapy is used when cancers have spread beyond one region of the body.

Editor’s Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha