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Journal Watch: Folic acid hearing benefit

Folic acid supplements seem to slow age-related hearing loss, a Dutch study has found.

The trial randomised 728 elderly men and women to either 800µg oral folic acid daily or placebo for a period of three years and assessed changes in hearing thresholds.

After three years, hearing thresholds at low frequencies fell by 1.0 decibel in the folic acid group, significantly less than the 1.7 decibel fall in the placebo group. There was no effect on hearing at high frequencies.

Annals of Internal Medicine 2007;147:1-9

Alcohol cuts heart failure

Moderate alcohol consumption appears to reduce the risk of developing heart failure, US researchers report.

They followed 21,601 participants in the Physicians' Health Study I from 1982 to 2005, analysing questionnaire data and assessing heart failure using Framingham criteria.

The incidence of heart failure was 25.0 per 10,000 person-years for people who consumed one or fewer drinks a week, compared with 20.6 for those who had more than seven drinks a week.

Circulation 2007;115:34-39

Five years best for bones

Five years of bisphosphonate treatment appears to be sufficient for many women with postmenopausal osteoporosis, a US study concludes.

The trial compared the effect of discontinuing treatment with alendronate after five years or continuing it for 10 years in 1,099 women at 10 US clinical centres.

Switching to placebo for five years reduced bone mineral density at total hip by 2.4 per cent and spine by 3.7 per cent. But although continuing with alendronate cut the risk of vertebral fractures by 55 per cent, it had no effect on the rate of non-vertebral fractures.

JAMA 2006;296:2927-38

Antibiotic effect on quinsy

Low doses of antibiotics commonly used for sore throats do not protect against quinsy, a UK study concludes.

The researchers retrospectively analysed 606 cases of quinsy from the UK general practice research database, 192 of whom developed it as a complication of sore throat.

Patients aged 21 to 40 were at an increased risk of developing quinsy, of about 2.5-fold, as were men and smokers. But low-dose antibiotics for sore throat had no significant effect on subsequent quinsy risk, suggesting higher doses given as a delayed prescription might benefit at-risk patients.

British Journal of General Practice 2007;57:45-9

PPIs raise hip fracture risk

Use of proton pump inhibitors increases risk of hip fracture, a US study reports.

Researchers used the UK general practice research database for a nested case-control study involving 13,556 hip fracture and 135,386 controls. Use of a PPI for more than a year increased the risk of hip fracture by 44 per cent, with the risk increasing with longer use. Use of high-dose PPIs more than doubled the risk.

JAMA 2006;296:2947-53

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