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August 2011

In The News

Review Recommends Bone-Building Nutrients Before Drugs

A review published in the journal Nutrients concludes that calcium and vitamin D supplements should be tried before resorting to drugs to help maintain normal bone density.*

For their review, Karen Plawecki and Karen Chapman-Novakofski of the University of Illinois selected 62 human studies conducted over the past decade that evaluated the impact on bone health of calcium and vitamin D from food, calcium and vitamin D from supplements, other bone health-related nutrients, and portfolio diets, such as the DASH and Mediterranean diets. The researchers confirmed a benefit for supplements, food-based interventions and educational strategies on bone health. The findings suggest nutrition therapies as first-line treatments for those at risk of osteoporosis, particularly in light of the side effects associated with pharmaceutical agents used to treat the condition.

“I suspect that many doctors reach for their prescription pads because they believe it’s unlikely that people will change their diets,” Dr. Chapman-Novakofski remarked.

Editor’s note: Dr. Plawecki, who is the director of the University of Illinois’ dietetics program, recommends adopting a portfolio diet that provides numerous beneficial nutrients, including high amounts of magnesium and potassium in addition to calcium.

—D. Dye


* Nutrients. 2010 Nov 8.

Study Reveals That Many Americans Are Not Getting Enough Calcium

Study Reveals That Many Americans Are Not Getting Enough Calcium

The Journal of the American Dietetic Association published the conclusion of researchers at Yale University and the University of Connecticut that many older Americans have an insufficient intake of calcium.*

Jane E. Kerstetter, RD, PhD, and her associates analyzed data from 9,475 adults enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2006. Dietary interviews ascertained calcium intake from both food and supplements. While total calcium intake increased with age, insufficiency remained prevalent among older adults.

“In light of evidence that energy intake declines with aging, calcium dense foods and calcium supplements become vital factors in maintaining adequate calcium intake across the life span,” Dr. Kerstetter commented. “Encouraging calcium supplementation is an established approach to addressing this issue in the clinical setting—one that needs additional emphasis in order to promote more frequent and sufficient supplementation in meeting adequate intake levels.”

Editor’s note: Adequate intake of the mineral has been defined by the Institute of Medicine as 1,000 milligrams per day for adults aged 19 to 50 years and 1,200 milligrams per day for those over 50.

—D. Dye


* J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 May;111(5):687-95.

Memory Loss Linked to Metabolic Syndrome

Aging humans with indications of the metabolic syndrome, which include high blood pressure, increased fat around the waist, and other risk factors may be more susceptible to succumbing to memory loss, according to a recent study published in the online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.*

Metabolic syndrome is often defined as having three or more of the following risk factors: high blood sugar and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL), high blood pressure, excess fat around the waist, and higher than normal triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood).

Seven thousand eighty-seven people age 65 and older from three French cities were used in the study. After initial testing, 16% of the subjects had metabolic syndrome. All the people in the study were given a series of memory and cognitive function tests over two- and four-year periods. The tests included a memory test, a test of visual working memory and a test of word fluency. The results indicated that people who had metabolic syndrome were 20% more likely to have cognitive decline on the memory test than those who did not have metabolic syndrome. Similar negative outcomes were shown with the other tests as well.

—J. Finkel


* Accessed February 8th, 2011.

Johnson & Johnson Settles Bribery Complaint for $70 Million

Memory Loss Linked to Metabolic Syndrome

Big Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson admitted bribing European doctors and agreed to pay $70 million in civil and criminal court, according to a recent article in The New York Times.*

The bribes were so egregious that one copy of an internal company e-mail stated that providing “cash incentives to surgeons is common knowledge in Greece,” and that, were the company to stop paying bribes, “we’d lose 95% of our business by the end of the year.”

Robert Khuzami, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s division of enforcement, said that the company tried to hide its activities by “using sham contracts, off-shore companies and slush funds.”

These heinous acts are just the most recent in a string of missteps by Johnson & Johnson, which has issued more than 50 product recalls since the start of last year involving such household brands as Tylenol®, Motrin®, Rolaids®, and Benadryl®. It also recalled two popular hip implants that a recent study suggested might fail soon after surgery in close to half of the patients who received them.

“We are deeply disappointed by the unacceptable conduct that led to these violations,” said William C. Weldon, Johnson and Johnson’s chairman and chief executive, said.

—J. Finkel



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