Hormones Might Offer Relief From Chronic Pain, Small Study Suggests
Early research found 7 of 9 patients benefited from treatment with the 'love' hormone
SATURDAY, March 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of two hormones might make a difference in reducing suffering in people with chronic pain, according to a small, preliminary study.
Seven of 9 patients reported a 30 percent to 40 percent decrease in pain after taking doses of oxytocin and human chorionic gonadotropin, the researchers found. In addition, the level of opioid (narcotic) painkillers needed by these seven patients also declined by 30 percent to 40 percent.
Patients also reported improvement in the intensity of pain flare-ups and longer time between flares, the study authors said.
Oxytocin is known as the "love hormone" and has been linked to positive human emotions. Human chorionic gonadotropin plays a role during pregnancy. Levels of both hormones increase during and after childbirth, and they're thought to contribute to lower levels of pain in pregnant women.
Study author Dr. Forest Tennant, an internist who specializes in chronic pain at the Veract Intractable Pain Clinics in West Covina, Calif., said there were few side effects with the treatment.
"The benefit that these patients mostly talk about is somewhat subjective but relates to what patients routinely call a 'feeling of well-being,' 'more alive' or [increasing] 'will to live,'" he said in a news release from the American Academy of Pain Medicine. "They also believe the combination is one they want to continue."
One study patient said the hormones had no effect, while another said oxytocin made her emotional. But she continued taking the other hormone, according to the news release.
Tennant said the next step is more research to determine whether the hormones could be an alternative treatment for chronic pain.
The research was presented March 7 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, in Phoenix. Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
For more about pain, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/pain.html ).
SOURCE: American Academy of Pain Medicine, news release, March 7, 2014
Pfizer Recalls Some Antidepressants After Drug Mixup
Action taken after pharmacist found a heart drug among Effexor/Venlafaxine, FDA says
FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Two lots of Pfizer's antidepressant drug Effexor XR (venlafaxine HCl) are being recalled because they may contain capsules of another drug called Tikosyn (dofetilide), which is used to treat heart rhythm disorders.
The recall also includes one lot of generic Greenstone brand venlafaxine HCl capsules, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday.
The agency said that unknowingly taking Tikosyn could have serious and potentially fatal consequences.
The recall is for:
one lot of 30-count Effexor XR 150-milligram extended-release capsules,
one lot of 90-count Effexor XR 150-milligram extended-release capsules,
and one lot of 90-count Greenstone venlafaxine HC1 150-milligram extended-release capsules.
The Pfizer drug lot numbers are V130142 and V130140, and have an expiration date of October 2015. The Greenstone lot number is V130014, which has an expiration date of August 2015.
The voluntary recall comes after a pharmacist found that a bottle of Effexor XR contained one capsule of Tikosyn 0.25 milligram, the FDA said.
The agency advises pharmacists to immediately halt sales of the recalled lots of the drugs and notify customers who've been sold the drugs. Patients with the recalled medicines should contact their doctor and/or return them to their pharmacy.
Patients who have been prescribed Effexor XR/Venlafaxine HCl but think they may have mistakenly taken a Tikosyn capsule should immediately contact their doctor or a hospital, Pfizer said.
They should monitor themselves for signs of abnormal heartbeat and seek medical help if they feel faint, become dizzy, or have a fast heartbeat, the drug maker said.
For more information about the recall, call Pfizer at 1-800-438-1985, Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET or Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about Tikosyn (http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM266314.pdf ).
SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, March 7, 2014
Allergy Rates Surprisingly Similar Across the U.S., Study Finds
However, young children in southern states suffer more than their peers in other regions
FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Wherever you live in the United States, allergy rates are mostly the same, but young children in southern states are more likely to suffer allergies than their peers in other places.
That's the finding of a government study that looked at blood-test data from about 10,000 people included in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
"Before this study, if you would have asked 10 allergy specialists if allergy prevalence varied depending on where people live, all 10 of them would have said yes, because allergen exposures tend to be more common in certain regions of the U.S.," Dr. Darryl Zeldin, scientific director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said in an agency news release.
"This study suggests that people prone to developing allergies are going to develop an allergy to whatever is in their environment. It's what people become allergic to that differs," he explained.
While the overall rate of allergies was about the same in all regions of the United States, children aged 1 to 5 years in southern states had higher allergy rates than those in other parts of the country, the investigators found.
Those states were Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.
"The higher allergy prevalence among the youngest children in southern states seemed to be attributable to dust mites and cockroaches," study author Paivi Salo, an epidemiologist in Zeldin's research group, said in the news release.
"As children get older, both indoor and outdoor allergies become more common," Salo added, "and the difference in the overall prevalence of allergies fades away."
The study, published online recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, also found that people aged 6 years and older, males, blacks and those without pets were more likely to have allergies.
Social and economic status did not appear to influence allergy risk, but richer people were more likely to be allergic to dogs and cats, while poorer people were more likely to be allergic to cockroaches and shrimp, the findings showed.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about allergies (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/allergy.html ).
SOURCE: U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, news release, March 4, 2014
Antibiotics May Be Linked to Serious Infections in Children
Nearly three-quarters of C. difficile cases associated with prescriptions written at doctor visits
FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Antibiotics prescribed in doctors' offices are linked with many cases of serious bacterial infections that can cause severe diarrhea in children, according to a new study.
Researchers found that 71 percent of cases of Clostridium difficile infection among American children aged 1 to 17 occurred shortly after they took antibiotics that were prescribed in doctors' offices to treat other conditions.
Most of the children received antibiotics for problems such as ear, sinus or upper respiratory infections. Previous research has shown that at least 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed to children in doctors' offices are for respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said in an agency news release.
About 17,000 children aged 1 to 17 get C. difficile infections every year, according to the CDC. This study found no difference in the incidence of C. difficile infections among boys and girls. It did show, however, that white children and those aged 12 months to 23 months are at greatest risk for such infections.
While the study showed an association between antibiotic use and C. difficile infections, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.
The study was published online March 3 in the journal Pediatrics.
Taking antibiotics is the top risk factor for developing C. difficile infections for both children and adults, the researchers said. Antibiotics can alter or kill beneficial bacteria that help protect against infections, which means patients can get sick from C. difficile they pick up from contaminated surfaces or someone's hands.
"Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of our nation's children," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in the news release. "When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficile infection and dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections."
Parents should not demand that doctors prescribe antibiotics for their children, and doctors should follow antibiotic prescribing guidelines, according to the CDC.
The CDC is seeking funding for a program it believes could cut outpatient prescribing of antibiotics by up to 20 percent and health care-associated C. difficile infections by 50 percent in five years. That reduction in infections could save 20,000 lives and more than $2 billion in health care costs, according to the news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about C. difficile (http://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/cdiff/Cdiff-patient.html ).
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, March 7, 2014
Are All Home-Based Blood Sugar Tests Equal?
FDA takes steps to eliminate potential risks for people with diabetes
FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Every day, millions of people with diabetes -- both type 1 and type 2 -- rely on the results they get from their blood glucose meters to guide their treatment decisions. But, what if those test results were wrong?
Recent research has found that even though a blood glucose monitor meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's standards for accuracy to gain device approval, the meter or test strips used in the meter may not perform as well as expected in the real world. And, those errors can have potentially life-threatening consequences.
"The availability of accurate blood glucose meters and test strips is critical to the success of diabetes self-management," according to a statement from the American Diabetes Association. "Faulty or inaccurate equipment can not only lead to just poor diabetes self-management, but to an acute medical crisis if a patient makes incorrect treatment decisions based on faulty data."
Current standards, which were approved in 2003, require that measurements be within 20 percent -- either over or under -- of a comparable laboratory test if the blood sugar level is currently above 75 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If blood sugar levels are below 75 mg/dL, the FDA's standard for approval is that the device and strips must be within 15 mg/dL of comparable lab test results, according to Courtney Lias, director of the division of chemistry and toxicology devices at the FDA.
"We weren't really happy with the 20 percent in 2003 but hoped it would improve over time, and we hoped that market pressure would push manufacturers to improve accuracy, but many focused more on adding features," Lias said.
"We've started to talk again about why accuracy standards haven't become better, and now manufacturers are moving toward more accuracy," she said. "Most are moving to meet 15 percent for over 100 mg/dL."
A draft guidance document was released in January by the FDA asking manufacturers to meet the 15 percent goal for 95 percent of blood sugar readings, with the exception of very low blood sugar readings. The guidance document tells manufacturers what the FDA expects of them to gain approval. A draft of the guidance document will be available for several months to allow for public comment before the final document is produced.
However, the accuracy goal refers to numbers achieved prior to device approval. Once the machines and test strips are on the market, Lias noted, the FDA relies on after-market complaints to the manufacturer, which are supposed to be shared with the FDA, as well as complaints sent directly to the FDA, outreach to the clinical community and FDA inspections.
Some of that feedback to the FDA may be coming from a new campaign, called Strip Safely, started by Bennet Dunlap, a father with two teenagers with type 1 diabetes.
"I was pretty frustrated when I heard that there were blood glucose monitoring systems (devices and test strips) that failed to even meet the 20 percent standard," Dunlap said. In response, he created the Strip Safely campaign to "try to create a call to action for the FDA by the diabetes community."
Dunlap said he wants to be sure that the FDA uses its power to recall faulty diabetes equipment in much the same way that it polices other products.
"The FDA recently recalled cilantro because it contained a risk of 'serious or potentially fatal infections,' according to their press release," he said. "Well, faulty test strips can cause serious and potentially fatal injections [of insulin] in people with diabetes."
The most serious risk from a faulty blood sugar test is that someone with type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disorder that always requires insulin treatment) or someone with type 2 diabetes who uses insulin could give themselves too little or too much insulin. The most immediate danger would be from too much insulin, which can cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia causes troubling symptoms, such as shakiness, sweating and confusion, and if left untreated, can cause someone to pass out or even die. Too little insulin results in hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Over time, hyperglycemia can lead to such complications as kidney disease and vision problems.
Dr. David Simmons is chief medical officer of Bayer HealthCare's Diabetes Care, in Tarrytown, N.Y. He said: "People should understand that every time you do a blood sugar test, it's an experiment, and the results have a range. Even tests done in a lab have ranges. Bayer takes accuracy standards very seriously and aimed for a substantial improvement in our new line of meters." He said that 99 to 100 percent of Bayer's new meters meet the 20 percent guideline and about 98 percent meet the 15 percent guideline.
Another manufacturer, Abbott Diabetes Care in Alameda, Calif., "makes substantial investments to monitor and control manufacturing variability," said Jared Watkin, head of technical operations for Abbott. The company has "strict controls in place to ensure consistent quality within each lot and from lot to lot," he said. "Managing diabetes depends on having an accurate understanding of blood glucose levels, so strip accuracy is critical."
Both company spokesmen said they would welcome third party, independent, after-market assessments of their products, which is something that's been proposed to the FDA by the Diabetes Technology Society, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the development and use of technology to fight diabetes.
Watkin said that such assessments could help level the playing field between manufacturers in the United States and those in other countries.
"Research shows that not all strip manufacturers can verify the accuracy of their strips," Watkin said. "Internal tests and third-party published trials show multiple on-market systems fail to meet the [20 percent] performance standards, and there is also evidence of inconsistent adverse event reporting. In addition, foreign-based manufacturers aren't subjected to unannounced audits by the U.S. FDA."
The FDA's draft guidance document addressed this by asking manufacturers to describe their accuracy on their labels. This would allow consumers to better compare devices and judge for
Concerns, however, extend beyond manufacturers and standards.
"We are concerned that many Medicare patients have experienced issues getting the strips they want -- and those recommended by their doctor -- as a result of the competitive bidding program," Watkin said. That program, which started last summer, lowers the cost of blood-testing supplies, but limits where people can go to buy them. "They could unwillingly be getting switched to brands that potentially have lower accuracy," he said.
Dunlap also expressed some worry about people's lack of control over which product they choose and lack of information to make the right choice.
"The expectation that market forces can influence the market depends on a truly free market, and full and complete information," Dunlap said. "Right now, it's difficult to know which devices are more or less accurate."
However, people with diabetes "should continue to test and rely on test strips," the FDA's Lias said. "Be assured that test strips are safe and effective."
And, she said, "if any given test strip result doesn't match the way you feel, retest."
Dunlap urged people to go one step further: If you've had a problem with a blood glucose meter or a test strip, be sure to report it both to the manufacturer and the FDA.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on testing your blood sugar (http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/tcyd/ktrack.htm ).
For some helpful hints on monitoring your blood sugar (http://consumer.healthday.com/diabetes-information-10/misc-diabetes-news-181/some-helpful-hints-when-monitoring-blood-sugar-680609.html ), read this HealthDay story.
SOURCES: Courtney Lias, Ph.D., director, division of chemistry and toxicology devices, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; David Simmons, M.D., chief medical officer, Bayer HealthCare Diabetes Care, Tarrytown, N.Y.; Jared Watkin, head, technical operations, Abbott Laboratories Diabetes Care, Alameda, Calif.
Could More Time on Facebook Help Spur Eating Disorders?
College students who 'untagged' self-photos, cared a lot about 'likes' had more body-image issues in study
FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Young women who spend a lot of time on Facebook tend to be more likely to be concerned about their body image and could be at increased risk for eating disorders, a new study suggests.
Researchers looked at how much time 960 female college students spent on the online social media site, how important "likes" were to them and whether they "untagged" photos of themselves.
The more than 95 percent of study participants who used Facebook typically spent 20 minutes on the site during each visit, and an hour on the site each day.
Those who spent more time on Facebook were more likely to worry about their weight and body shape, and to have eating disorders, the investigators found. These women also tended to place greater importance on receiving comments and "likes" on Facebook, frequently untagged photos of themselves, and compared their photos to pictures of friends.
The study was published online recently in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.
But the researchers also suggested it may be possible to use Facebook to help young women learn about the responsible use of social media sites, develop better self-image and prevent eating disorders.
Although the study found an association between time spent on Facebook and possible higher risk of eating disorders in college-aged women, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
"Facebook merges powerful peer influences with broader societal messages that focus on the importance of women's appearance into a single platform that women carry with them throughout the day," study author Pamela Keel, of the department of psychology at Florida State University, said in a journal news release.
"As researchers and clinicians attempt to understand and address risk factors for eating disorders, greater attention is needed to the emerging role of social media in young people's lives," Keel said.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about eating disorders (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/index.shtml ).
SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders, news release, March 3, 2014
Daylight Saving Time's Arrival May Disrupt Your Sleep
It's harder to 'spring forward' than to 'fall back,' doctor says
FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Sleep problems may surface for some after clocks move forward an hour Sunday morning for Daylight Saving Time because many people have difficulty changing their body clocks, a sleep expert says.
People's internal clocks tend to be programmed for longer than a 24-hour day and run a bit behind the time shown on clocks, said Dr. Steven Feinsilver, director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
This means it's "generally easier to stay up an hour later than to sleep an hour earlier, which is why the [Daylight Saving Time] change is a little more of a challenge than the end of [Daylight Saving Time] in the fall," Feinsilver said in a school news release.
Feinsilver outlined some ways to get a good night's sleep. First, he said, it's important to maintain a consistent wake time, which should vary by no more than an hour on any day, including weekends.
Sleeping and sex are the only things you should be doing in your bedroom, Feinsilver said. Reading might be OK, but having a TV in your bedroom is a bad idea. Spending eight hours or less in bed will lead to more solid periods of sleep, he said.
Exercise can help you sleep, but not if you do it in the hours just before going to bed. Don't eat a big meal just before bedtime, but don't go to bed hungry either, Feinsilver said. Avoid caffeine and alcohol for several hours before bedtime.
It might be a good idea to establish a "worry time" at least an hour before bedtime to write down all your worries or what you need to do the next day, he said. You can then put the list aside and relax before you go to bed.
Feinsilver also said everyone has an occasional bad night of sleep and the effects of one such night aren't serious.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sleep and sleep disorders (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Sleep/ ).
SOURCE: Icahn School of Medicine, news release
Health Highlights: March 7, 2014
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
New Testosterone Drug OK'd by FDA Amid Controversy
A controversial new drug for men with low testosterone has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Aveed, a long-acting testosterone injection that's taken once very 10 weeks, is expected to be available this month, according to Irish drugmaker Endo Pharmaceuticals. Similar products need to be taken weekly or biweekly, CBS News/Associated Press reported.
The FDA should reverse its approval of Aveed, Public Citizen's Health Research Group founder Dr. Sidney Wolfe said in a letter to the agency. He pointed out that an FDA panel of outside experts last April voted 9-9 on whether the drug was safe for treating low testosterone.
That vote came before a federal study suggested that testosterone therapy could double the risk of heart attack in men 65 and older, said Wolfe, who added that the vote result might have been against the drug if that information was known at the time.
In response to the study, the FDA said in January that it was reviewing the safety of testosterone drugs. Public Citizen says the FDA should make all testosterone drugs carry a black box warning about cardiovascular risks, CBS News/AP reported.
"The FDA's current view is that the benefits of testosterone therapy, including Aveed, outweigh the known risks when used as directed in patients for whom the drug is indicated," said FDA spokeswoman Andrea Fischer.
High Vitamin D Levels Benefit Breast Cancer Patients: Study
High levels of vitamin D improve survival in breast cancer patients, according to a new review.
Researchers analyzed five studies that included thousands of breast cancer patients who were followed for an average of nine years and found that those with high levels of vitamin D in their blood were twice as likely to survive as those with low levels, United Press International reported.
The findings were published in the journal Anticancer Research.
Further studies are needed, but the researchers said their results suggest that adding vitamin D supplements to breast cancer patients' standard care could be beneficial, UPI reported.
Surgeon Who Saved Many Pitchers' Careers Dies at Age 88
The American doctor who saved the careers of many baseball pitchers and other athletes died Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif. at age 88.
Dr. Frank Jobe developed the groundbreaking Tommy John surgery, which was named for the first pitcher who underwent the procedure in 1974.
The surgery involves transplanting an unneeded tendon from the wrist into the elbow, where it functions as a new ligament. The procedure has been used since in thousands of athletes, most of them pitchers, The New York Times reported.
Jobe also developed a new shoulder surgery that reduces trauma to tissue during the procedure. Pitcher Orel Hershiser was the first to undergo the surgery in 1990.
"There are a lot of pitchers in baseball who should celebrate his life and what he did for the game of baseball," Tommy John said in a statement released after Jobe's death, The Times reported.
Some Helpful Hints When Monitoring Blood Sugar
For starters, wash your hands before you test, experts say
FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Anyone who needs to monitor their blood sugar can take some simple steps to improve their test results. These include:
Wash your hands before you test. It sounds simple enough, but it's a step many people skip or skimp on.
"Tests strips are essentially little labs on a piece of plastic," explained Dr. David Simmons, chief medical officer at Bayer HealthCare's Diabetes Care in Tarrytown, N.Y. "If you have sugar on your hands, it will get into the blood sample. This is one of the predominant causes of a high blood sugar. So, wash your hands with soapy water, rinse well and dry thoroughly. If there's extra fluid on your finger, it will dilute the sample and give you a lower reading."
Skip the alcohol swab or hand-sanitizing gel. Like having extra sugar on your hand, alcohol can affect your blood sugar reading, too. "If you use alcohol swabs, it's only OK if you guarantee you don't have residual alcohol, so make sure you dry it well and then wipe it with a clean cloth," Simmons said. "But, it's best not to use alcohol."
Don't forget quality control. Do you check a test strip from each new batch with control solution to ensure that the results are in range? If not, you might not be getting accurate readings.
Be sure to use the right control solution for your test strips and run a check every time you open a new container of strips, each time you get an unusual result, and any time you've dropped your meter, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To run the test, insert a test strip into your meter and then put a drop or two of control solution on the strip, like you would if you were doing a test with your blood. The results should be within the range listed on the test strip bottle. If they're not, call the manufacturer to report the problem.
Storage is important. Again, because test strips are essentially tiny labs, it's important to keep them in the right conditions.
Don't store test strips in your car or anywhere else that gets very hot. Ditto for anywhere that gets excessively humid, which definitely makes the bathroom not a good storage area. Extreme cold can be an issue for tests strips, too, according to Simmons.
Heed the expiration date. Test strips degrade over time so it's important not to rely on a test strip that is past its expiration date.
"Manufacturers work very hard to try to incorporate safeguards into meters and test strips," said Courtney Lias, director of the division of chemistry and toxicology devices for the FDA. "For example, they try to make sure that no result is given if a test strip is under-filled."
But, as with any lab test, errors can sometimes occur. She said that if you get a test result that doesn't seem to match the way you feel, such as an abnormally high number when you have no symptoms of high blood sugar, be sure to check again before making any treatment decisions.
Just how accurate are home-based blood sugar tests? Read this HealthDay story (http://consumer.healthday.com/diabetes-information-10/misc-diabetes-news-181/just-how-accurate-are-home-based-blood-sugar-tests-680608.html ) to find out.
SOURCES: Courtney Lias, Ph.D., director, division of chemistry and toxicology devices, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; David Simmons, M.D., chief medical officer, Bayer HealthCare Diabetes Care, Tarrytown, N.Y.
Will You Need Knee Replacement? Maybe Your Hand Can Tell You
Study suggests a link between length of ring, index fingers and chances of eventual surgery
FRIDAY, March 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The closer in length your ring and index fingers are, the greater your risk of developing severe knee osteoarthritis that requires total knee replacement, a new study claims.
Researchers examined the hands of more than 14,500 middle-aged and older people in Australia, and followed them for an average of more than 10 years. During that time, 580 people had total knee replacements and about 500 had total hip replacements.
Having ring and index fingers that were closer in length was associated with a higher risk of requiring total knee replacement due to osteoarthritis, according to the study, which was published online March 4 in the journal Rheumatology. The association was stronger with fingers on the right hand.
Osteoarthritis, which is related to normal wear and tear of joints, is the most common type of arthritis.
The study did not find any evidence of a link between the lengths of ring and index fingers and the risk of total hip replacement.
Previous studies have suggested that there may be an association between the ratio of ring and index fingers and athletic ability, study author Dr. Yuanyuan Wang, of the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia, said in a journal news release.
The researchers couldn't fully explain the new findings. It might be that participants with lower index- to ring-finger ratios performed higher-intensity physical activity, thus putting their knees at more risk. It also might be that knee arthritis is more vulnerable after injury than hip arthritis, Wang said.
The findings, however, "may also reflect hormonal influences on the growth of bone, cartilage and soft tissue, which warrants further investigation," he added.
The study only found an association between finger length and the risk of needing total knee replacement. It did not show cause-and-effect.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about osteoarthritis (http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/default.asp#box_2 ).
SOURCE: Rheumatology, news release, March 4, 2014