ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
CANCER
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Mineral May Reduce High-Risk Bladder Disease
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Mediterranean Diet Helps Protect Aging Brain
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Global Warming Biggest Health Threat of 21st Century, Experts Say
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
FITNESS
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
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Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Genes may boost the odds of developing rotator cuff problems, according to new research that finds the shoulder injury running in families.

The finding is based on an analysis of health data on more than two million Utah residents. It showed that rotator cuff trouble among even distant relations, such as third cousins, can predict an individual's risk.

"Rotator cuff tears are very common," said study lead author Dr. Robert Tashjian, a shoulder and elbow surgeon as well as an assistant professor in the department of orthopaedics at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City. "It's the number one problem that an orthopaedic surgeon treats in terms of shoulder issues in the clinic. And yet, no one really knows exactly why they occur."

"In fact, we know a lot of people in their seventies and eighties never develop rotator cuff injuries, even though very often they engage in the same activities as people who do develop rotator cuff tears," he said. "And by the same token, many people who get the tears are actually not very active."

Based on those observations, the team speculated that "maybe some people are predisposed to developing tears for some reason," Tashjian said. "And when we looked at the information in a very extensive state-wide database, we found that there was a hereditary contribution to rotator cuff problems that extends all the way out to third-degree relatives."

Tashjian and colleague Lisa Cannon-Albright were expected to discuss the findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), in Las Vegas.

According to the AAOS, the rotator cuff enables the arm to lift and rotate by holding in place the top part of the upper arm bone (humerus) through a network of muscles and tendons.

While rotator cuff tears can strike anyone following a traumatic injury, most develop among men and women over the age 40 after years of repetitive stress or overuse take their toll on the relevant muscles. Weakness and/or pain when lowering or lifting the arm could be a sign of a tear, the AAOS warns.

Rotator cuff trouble may be especially problematic for the disabled, according to a second study also expected to be presented at the AAOS meeting. Researchers led by Dr. Michael Akbar of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, found evidence of rotator cuff injury in almost half of wheelchair-bound paraplegic patients, with the risk of such injuries rising 5 percent for each year of wheelchair dependency.

In the study by Tashjian and Cannon-Albright, the researchers sifted through the Utah Population Database (UPDB), which pairs health data with genealogical records concerning millions of Utah residents.

"The people who grow up in Utah tend to stay here," Tashjian noted, and the data "often contains information on three, four, or even five generations of any one family."

The study authors found that the risk for developing rotator cuff disease was "significantly elevated" among men and women related to rotator cuff patients by first or second degree.

In particular, for those under the age of 40, a "significantly elevated" risk existed if relatives, even very distant ones, had experienced a rotator cuff injury.

This all points to a genetic predisposition to rotator cuff problems, the researchers said.

"A lot of things could contribute to the onset of rotator cuff disease, but I think this shows that patients are probably predisposed or not predisposed to developing it," Tashjian said. "And at some point in the future, if we could isolate a gene or combination of genes that account for this predisposition, maybe those people who have it can engage in certain exercises or take certain precautions to prevent a future rotator cuff tear. Or perhaps we could even figure out how to reverse the affects of this dysfunctional gene."

Dr. Ken Yamaguchi, a professor of orthopaedic surgery at Washington University in St. Louis, believes the study provides "extremely important information."

"The prevalence of rotator cuff disease is incredibly large," he noted. "It's a huge public health problem in the U.S., given that by the age of 65, about 50 percent of the population actually has rotator cuff injuries, even if most don't know it because they don't hurt or have profound weakness or any symptoms. So understanding why it happens is fundamental to perhaps figuring out how to intervene."

"And all of our research so far," Yamaguchi added, "has shown that rotator cuff disease is much more of an age-related process. That it is not related so much to injury, but is part of a much more gradual and degenerative process that for some reason affects some, but not others. So here it's hard to argue with what this study shows. It's very convincing data."

More information

There's more on rotator cuff problems at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.



SOURCES: Robert Tashjian, M.D., shoulder and elbow surgeon, and assistant professor, department of orthopaedics, University of Utah, School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah; Ken Yamaguchi, M.D., Sam and Marilyn Fox distinguished professor, orthopaedic surgery, Washington University, St. Louis; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting, Las Vegas, Feb. 25-28, 2009

Last Updated: Feb. 25, 2009

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