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July 2008 Mayo Clinic Health Letter Highlights Bone Health, Causes of Swelling and Slimmed-Down Desserts

ROCHESTER, Minn., July 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Here are highlights from the July issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Mayo Clinic Health Letter attribution is required. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit or call toll-free for subscription information, 1-800-333-9037, extension 9PR1.

Test Your Knowledge of Bone Health

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Knowing key facts about bone health can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak, brittle and prone to fracture. Bone loss that leads to osteoporosis often can be slowed by:

-- Getting adequate calcium and vitamin D

-- Doing weight-bearing exercise and strength training

-- Limiting alcohol consumption

-- Stopping smoking

The July issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter includes this short true-or-false quiz on bone health:

Being overweight reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

True: Weight has a powerful impact on bone mass. Because weight increases the load on your skeleton, bones compensate by growing stronger to support the weight. But the benefit isn't an excuse to gain weight or not to lose weight, for those who are overweight. Instead, thinner or smaller adults -- who have weighed less than 127 pounds for much of their lives -- tend to have lower bone density and may want to emphasize weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging to increase their skeletal load.

Taking testosterone isn't effective at warding off osteoporosis in older men.

False: Men with very low testosterone levels are at increased risk of osteoporosis and can perhaps improve their bone density with testosterone replacement. This therapy also may help men with low testosterone strengthen muscles and reduce the risk of falling.

Taking a prescription osteoporosis drug does not substitute for adequate calcium intake.

True: No osteoporosis drug will help bolster weak bones if calcium intake is inadequate. Vitamin D also is needed to help the body absorb calcium. For postmenopausal women and men over 65 who have osteoporosis, taking a total 1,500 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day is reasonable -- in increments of no more than 500 mg at a time.

Ordinary and Not-So-Ordinary Causes of Swelling

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Puffy feet and swollen legs usually aren't reason for alarm. But the key word is "usually."

The reasons for edema (swelling) often are ordinary -- hot weather, sitting or standing for a long time or eating too much salty food. If the swelling isn't accompanied by other signs and symptoms and goes away within about 24 hours, a visit to the doctor probably isn't needed.

Longer-lasting or recurring edema, even if fairly slight, typically warrants a doctor's appointment, according to the July issue of Mayo Clinic Heath Letter. Some causes of edema are serious, such as heart failure, kidney disease, liver damage or blood clots. Edema can be a side effect of commonly used drugs such as certain blood pressure medications, hormones, medications that open blood vessels and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Some herbal supplements also can contribute to edema.

A doctor will try to identify the possible causes of edema. The underlying conditions and the edema can be treated. Chronic edema can cause pain and discomfort, itchy rashes, and reddish-brown skin discoloration. Treatment options include:

Sodium restriction -- Reducing salt consumption helps decrease retention of body fluids.

Diuretic drugs -- These medications increase the kidney's output of water and sodium and are most effective when patients reduce sodium consumption.

Exercise -- Moving and using the muscles of the affected area can enhance circulation of blood and body fluids.

Elevation -- Raising the affected limb(s) over the level of the heart for about 30 minutes or longer, while sleeping, helps blood and excess fluids circulate.

Compression stockings or bandages -- These keep pressure on limbs to prevent fluids from collecting in the tissues. Bandages and stockings typically are worn below the knees.

Just Desserts

Fruit, slimmed-down desserts can be tasty and healthy

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- In a diet-focused culture, desserts often get a bad rap. But some can actually be beneficial.

Desserts made with fruit, nature's natural sweetener, are ideal, healthy after-dinner treats. Reducing the sugar and fats in a recipe can make favorite desserts more healthful and still taste good.

The July issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers healthy dessert suggestions, including:

Grill fruit slices: Cut apples, pineapple, pears or peaches into chunks. Brush them lightly with canola oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Grill the fruit on skewers or wrap in foil and grill over low heat for three to five minutes.

Make a fruit dip: Mix together 1/2 cup of low-fat sugar-free lemon yogurt, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lime zest. Serve cold as a dip for fruits such as grapes, sliced strawberries, kiwi or bananas.

Add a dollop: Add a dollop of fat-free plain or vanilla yogurt to frozen or canned fruit. Opt for fruit without syrup.

Slim down baked goods: Favorite recipes can be made with much less sugar and fat. Reducing sugar by one-third to one-half works in many recipes. To enhance the sweetness, increase the amount of vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg. Applesauce, mashed banana, prune puree or commercial fat substitute can replace up to half the butter, shortening or oil in many recipes.

Use reduced-fat or fat-free ingredients instead of high-fat products: Fat-free, 1 percent or 2 percent milk can be used instead of whole milk. Evaporated fat-free milk can replace regular evaporated milk. Fat-free plain yogurt or low-fat sour creams can be substituted for sour cream. Light cream cheese or low-fat cottage cheese often substitutes nicely for cream cheese.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today's health and medical news. To subscribe, please call 800-333-9037 (toll-free), extension 9PR1, or visit

SOURCE Mayo Clinic
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