Jan 29, 2015
Bulletin Board

Acetaminophen Use Connected to Asthma

Most people don’t think twice about taking acetaminophen to relieve a fever or the pain associated with an injury. But when the drug is taken by adolescents, it may put them at higher risk for developing asthma symptoms.

A study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine showed evidence that adolescents who take acetaminophen at least once a month are at more than double the risk for developing asthma symptoms compared to peers who don’t take the drug at all. In addition, adolescents taking acetaminophen at least once a year are at almost 50-percent higher risk. Subjects who used acetaminophen were also found to have a higher prevalence for developing eczema and allergies.

Researchers asked over 300,000 13 and 14 year-olds in 50 countries to classify their use of acetaminophen as none, medium (at least once in the past year), or high (at least once in the past month). Then, they asked them to describe any asthma symptoms like wheezing and itchy, watery eyes.

While the study reveals an association between acetaminophen use and asthmatic symptoms, it’s unclear how or even if the drug is responsible for the increased risk. Experts say it’s possible acetaminophen may have a systemic inflammatory effect, or it may suppress a user’s immune system response to certain infections that commonly cause asthma in teens.

But the acetaminophen use may simply coincide with already-present symptoms. A cold, for instance, is a common trigger for an asthma attack, and people with colds often take the drug to relieve respiratory infection symptoms.

Richard Beasley, MD, study author and Professor at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, is calling for more research on the topic. “Randomized controlled trials are now urgently required to investigate this relationship further and to guide the use of antipyretics,” he said in a press release, “not only in children but in pregnancy and adult life.”

To read the abstract of the study, “Acetaminophen Use and Risk of Asthma, Rhinoconjunctivitis and Eczema in Adolescents,” go to: ajrccm.atsjournals.org/search.dtl and search “acetaminophen use and risk of asthma.”

If the Shoe Fits?

Athletes have been told for years that they can help avoid injury by wearing a shoe correctly fit to their foot type. However, recent research is calling into question how important such precautions really are.

In three large studies appearing in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, the U.S. military supplied thousands of recruits with one of two types of running shoes. One group was given shoes fit to their foot type–flat-footed, overpronating runners were fit with motion-controlled shoes and high-arched, underpronating runners were fit with well-cushioned shoes. The other group received shoes fit to an average foot type.

Researchers found almost no correlation between fit and injury avoidance. Bruce Jones, MD, MPH, senior author of the studies and manager of the Injury Prevention Program for the U.S. Army’s Public Health Command, told The New York Times that the need to fit running shoes for over- or underpronation is a “myth.”

“You can’t simply look at foot type as a basis for buying a running shoe,” he said. “[The problem is that] no one knows whether pronation is really the underlying issue. There is so much that we still don’t understand about the biomechanics of the lower extremities.”

Another study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine supports the military’s findings. In it, more than 80 women were classified as neutral, overpronators, or underpronators. Half of them were given shoes fit to their pronation, and half were given shoes at random. At the end of a 13-week training program, the majority of women who reported missing training days because of pain were those “fit” to their shoes.

In light of these studies, what are updated suggestions for purchasing running shoes? “If you feel any pain or discomfort, that’s your first veto,” Michael Ryan, PhD, lead author of the British Journal study and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin, told The New York Times. “My best advice is, turn on your sensors and listen to your body, not what the salespeople might tell you.”

To read an abstract of the study, “Injury Reduction Effectiveness of Assigning Running Shoes Based on Plantar Shape in Marine Corps Basic Training,” go to: ajs.sagepub.com and search “running shoes based on plantar shape.”

For the abstract of the study, “The Effect of Three Different Levels of Footwear Stability on Pain Outcomes in Women Runners,” go to: bjsm.bmj.com and search “three different levels of footwear.”

Interest in Kinesiology Growing

Kinesiology is increasingly becoming a major of choice for undergraduate students in the U.S. The American Kinesiology Association (AKA) reports that the number of students earning degrees in the field grew 50 percent from 2003 to 2008 and included more than 26,000 students in 2008.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the growth is translating to an increased number of physical therapists and athletic trainers in the workforce. The number of physical therapists in the United States will rise by 30 percent in the 10-year period from 2008 to 2018, reports the Bureau, and the number of athletic trainers will increase by almost 37 percent in the same time frame. “Right now I see nothing in the future that would dull the interest of students in studying this rather exciting area of physical activity,” Shirl Hoffman, Executive Director of the AKA, told Inside Higher Ed.

But while the number of kinesiology undergrads increases, it may be more difficult for them to continue studying in the field. Kinesiology master’s and doctoral programs have also seen an increase in enrollment–20 percent and 29 percent, respectively–but there are far fewer post-grad programs today than there were 20 years ago. Inside Higher Ed found that in the three West Coast states, there were once 10 doctoral programs. But now there is only one each in Oregon and Washington and none in California.

Betaine For Better Performance

The nutrient betaine, found in many foods, including shellfish, spinach, beets, and whole grains, has been shown to help keep people’s hearts, livers, and kidneys healthy for years. Now researchers say the body of evidence supporting its performance enhancement abilities is also growing.

A study appearing in the July issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that supplementing an active person’s diet with betaine for two weeks helped improve subjects’ strength. The small-scale study involved 21 men who had been strength training for at least three months prior to the study, and were randomly given either 1.25 grams of a betaine supplement or a placebo daily.

After two weeks of continued strength training, the subjects who had been taking the betaine supplement showed a larger increase in vertical jump power, isometric squat force, bench throw power, and isometric bench press force when compared to the placebo group. No difference was observed in jump squat power.

In past research, betaine has been shown to reduce inflammation, which may explain the study subjects’ ability to improve power and force, since less inflammation in the muscles aids the recovery process and muscle building. The nutrient is also fairly easy for athletes to add to their diets since it’s available in many grocery store foods.

To read the abstract of the study, “Ergogenic effects of betaine supplementation on strength and power performance,” go to: www.jissn.com/content/7/1/27/ abstract.


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