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Obesity raises women’s risk of rheumatoid arthritis

When talking to patients about health risks associated with being overweight or obese, physicians should discuss rheumatoid arthritis, says the lead author of a recent study. People with a history of obesity have a 1.2 times greater risk of developing the autoimmune disorder than those who have maintained a healthy weight, according to the study published online April 18 in Arthritis Care & Research. The risk is greater for obese women than men, but the reason for that is unclear, said lead study author Eric Matteson, MD, MPH. The study defined obese participants as those who had a body mass index of 30 or greater. The findings come when the prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis is increasing among women after 40 years of declines, the study said. Obesity also continues to rise among Americans, with 36% of adults and 17% of children and adolescents considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We can add rheumatoid arthritis to the very long ...

Omega-3 intake linked to lower levels of protein associated with Alzheimer’s

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids might help slow the surge of new Alzheimer’s disease cases expected in the next few decades as the nation’s elderly population grows, a study suggests. People who consume the most omega-3 have the lowest blood levels of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment associated with Alzheimer’s, according to the study published online May 2 in Neurology. But the cause of this relationship is not yet clear, said first study author Yian Gu, PhD. The most common sources of omega-3 among study participants were fish, margarine, nuts, poultry and salad dressing. “This is not a clinical trial,” said Gu, associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “It’s an epidemiological study, so we have to be very cautious about making recommendations [for health professionals based on the results]. But physicians should stay tuned and see what we find in our follow-up study.” An estimated 5.4 million Americans, including 2 ...

Massachusetts Legislature starts moving on payment reforms

Massachusetts lawmakers in the coming months will be seeking to reconcile several comprehensive health system reform bills aimed at controlling rising health care costs, a follow-up to the enactment of a near-universal coverage expansion in 2006. At this article’s deadline, several bills were in the state Legislature’s pipeline, including one introduced by the House on May 4 to cut $160 billion in health care spending over the next 15 years. The Senate, which released its own proposal on May 9, also was weighing legislation introduced in 2011 by Gov. Deval Patrick. His plan seeks to move all state-sponsored health coverage to a global fee payment system, while encouraging the growth of accountable care-type organizations, in which physicians and other health professionals would work together to improve health outcomes for patients and lower costs. “I do think it’s going to happen,” Lynda Young, MD, the Massachusetts Medical Society’s president, said of the prospect th ...