Roundup: Hip Fractures in Older Women on the Rise; High-Fat Diet Fuels Spread of Prostate Cancer

Hip fractures are common among the elderly, and the number of older women who are experiencing this serious injury is increasing.

Hip fractures among U.S. women ages 65 to 69 rose 2.5 percent during 2013, 2014 and 2015, while the incidence among women ages 70 to 74 jumped 3.8 percent, according to a study published recently in Osteoporosis International.

The number of hip fractures during this time period was projected to be less, based on a decreasing number seen between 2002 and 2012, the researchers said. They examined Medicare claims data of 2 million women between 2002 and 2015 to determine the increase. Women ages 65 and older experienced 11,000 more hip fractures than expected between 2013 and 2015, the study found. The researchers cited “less bone density testing and fewer prescriptions for osteoporosis treatments” in recent years.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 95 percent of broken hips are caused by a fall. And these falls are more prevalent in women, who experience 75 percent of the hip fractures in the U.S., the CDC says. A main factor among women is that they have higher rates of osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break.

Hip fractures cause more than 300,000 men and women over age 65 to be hospitalized each year, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

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Dietary Fat Fuels Spread of Prostate Cancer, Study Finds

Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic conditions, including heart disease and some cancers. For men, being overweight or obese has been linked to prostate cancer in previous studies.

On Monday, researchers reported a new twist in the diet-prostate cancer connection. They found that dietary fat can fuel the spread of prostate cancer, which is normally detected early and is treatable in most men. Prostate cancer is mostly considered an indolent disease, presenting a low risk and progression so slow that often no treatment is needed.

But high-fat diets can promote more aggressive prostate cancers, according to a team from the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston. The findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics.

The researchers discovered that metastatic prostate tumors were producing high amounts of lipids, or fats. This occurred, they found, along with the absence of two key tumor-suppressing genes. These missing genes apparently shifted the prostate’s cancer cells into a high gear of fat production, which in turn caused a metastatic progression of the cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that prostate cancer will be diagnosed in about 165,000 American men in 2018. That makes it the second most common cancer in American males, behind skin cancer.

“It was as though we’d found the tumors’ lipogenic, or fat production, switch,” said Pier Paolo Pandolfi, M.D., director of the Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC, in a news release. “The implication is, if there’s a switch, maybe there’s a drug with which we can block this switch and maybe we can prevent metastasis or even cure metastatic prostate cancer.”

Existing data links dietary fats (and obesity) to many types of cancer. Morever, “rates of cancer deaths from metastatic cancers, including prostate cancer, are much higher in the United States than in nations where lower fat diets are more common,” researchers said.

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Repeated Hits, Not Concussions, Cause CTE Brain Disease, Researchers Find

A study published Thursday in Brain, a journal of neurology, concludes that repeated hits to the head that do not result in concussions — or certain symptoms related to concussions such as headaches, dizziness, vision problems or confusion — can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE has been associated with National Football Leaguel (NFL) players with a history of concussions, with many high-profile NFL players having developed CTE. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death.

The researchers analyzed the brains of teenagers and young adults who had been exposed to mild head impact — but died from another cause soon afterward. They found early evidence of brain pathology consistent with what’s seen in CTE, which is a neurodegenerative disease that can cause brain cell death, cognitive deficits and dementia.

Researchers said they found evidence of early CTE in the brain after head impact, even in the absence of concussions. Early CTE may result from damaged blood vessels in the brain, causing blood proteins to spill into brain tissue and contribute to brain inflammation, the study notes.

The researchers also conducted experiments that recreated sports-related head impact on laboratory mice. The seven-year study involved researchers from Boston University, Cleveland Clinic, Harvard Medical School, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

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