Quick Studies: A snapshot of the latest research on diet, exercise, and more

Out with Gout


Gout, an inflammatory arthritis that causes painful swelling in the joints, is on the rise. What might cut the risk? In 1986, scientists started tracking 44,654 men aged 40 to 75. By 2012, 1,741 of them had been diagnosed with gout.

Excess weight, alcohol, and diuretics were linked to a higher risk. A DASH-like diet was linked to a lower risk. (A DASH diet is rich in vegetables and fruit and low in added sugars, includes low-fat dairy, and favors poultry, fish, and beans over red meat.)

Weight mattered the most. Men who had obesity had 2½ times the risk of men at the lower end of the normal weight range. The authors estimated that 70 percent of the gout cases could have been prevented if the men were lean, drank only occasionally, took no diuretics, and ate a DASH-like diet.

What to do: Don’t stop taking diuretics without asking your doctor about alternatives.

JAMA Netw. Open 3: e2027421, 2020.

Music, Anyone?

woman eating listening to music
Drobot Dean/stock.adobe.com.

Can music affect how quickly you eat?

People took, on average, 38 seconds to eat a piece of chocolate when listening to music. Without music, they took 25 seconds. And they took a few seconds longer with slower music than with faster music.

What to do: Want to eat more slowly? Music may help.

Appetite 2020. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2020.104801.

Prostate Cancer to Watch?

man with doctor

Experts recommend active surveillance, rather than surgery or radiation, for low-risk prostate cancer. But the number of U.S. men on active surveillance varies by region.

Researchers looked at roughly 80,000 men aged 80 or younger with low-risk prostate cancer (that is, cancers diagnosed as cT1c or cT2a and Gleason grade group 1 in men with a PSA level under 10 ng/mL).

In 2010, 13 percent of the men were on active surveillance. By 2015, it was up to 32 percent. But the 2015 rates varied widely, from 52 percent in Connecticut to 45 percent in the San Francisco-Oakland area to 16 percent in Hawaii to 13 percent in New Mexico.

What to do: Ask your doctor whether you can try active surveillance to avoid the side effects of surgery or radiation.

JAMA Netw. Open 3: e2031349, 2020.

Knees Need to Move

woman running

Can exercise curb arthritis pain?

Scientists randomly assigned 345 people with knee osteoarthritis to a stepped exercise program or a control group (which was sent advice on how to manage arthritis).

Exercisers who didn’t have less pain or better function after three months on Step 1 (an online exercise program) moved to Step 2 (biweekly exercise coaching calls) for three months. Those who still didn’t improve moved to Step 3 (in-person physical therapy).

After nine months, 65 percent had moved to Step 2 and 35 percent had gone on to Step 3. Overall, the stepped group had better scores than the control group on a questionnaire rating pain, stiffness, and function, but not on tests of how quickly they could walk, climb stairs, get out of a chair, etc.

What to do: Arthritis in your knees? Keep moving.

Ann. Intern. Med. 2020. doi:10.7326/M20-4447.