To your good health — Hyaluronic acid for arthritis

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By Keith Roach, M.D.

Signal Contributing Writer

Dear Dr. Roach ecently, my acupuncturist suggested that I try hyaluronic acid capsules for the arthritis in my hands, feet, back, neck and hips. I had heard of hyaluronic acid years ago and checked it out. Since it promotes cell growth, I assume it can’t differentiate from good cells or cancer cells, so I avoided trying it. Is this really safe to take?

— C.F.

ANSWER yaluronic acid is indicated for use via injection, especially into the knee for arthritis symptoms, but is also used for other purposes, such as a filler in cosmetic surgery.

For knee injection, it appears safe and moderately effective. It isn’t thought to work by promoting cell growth but rather by replacing synovial fluid, a fluid that acts as a kind of shock absorber, protecting the cartilage, bone and nerves of the knee.

There have been studies evaluating oral hyaluronic acid, and one from Japan in 2012 showed a very modest improvement compared with a placebo. I wouldn’t recommend oral hyaluronic acid based on the studies done so far.

There are many reports in basic cancer research on the ability of cancer cells to grow in conditions of high hyaluronic acid; however, this does NOT mean that taking oral hyaluronic acid promotes growth of cancer cells. As far as I can tell, there is no evidence that links oral hyaluronic acid to increased cancer risk.

Dear Dr. Roach ’m a 92-year-old man in better-than-average health. I have had two episodes of blood in my urine in the past two months. I know this isn’t normal. At my age, I’d just like to make believe it didn’t happen. What’s my future like?

— Anon.

Answer our future will shortly include, I hope, a visit to your regular doctor. Blood in the urine often is due to a urine infection or a kidney stone, but in older men, there is always a concern about a tumor, whether of the kidney, bladder or prostate.

Pretending it didn’t happen is not a good solution, and your doctors will certainly take your age into account when looking at diagnostic possibilities and treatments. Most cases will turn out to be not much to worry about, so the sooner you get in, the sooner you can find out what’s going on and see what steps may be necessary.

Dear Dr. Roach  suffered from constipation for years, and after consulting with a gastrointestinal specialist, I was prescribed MiraLAX. I take it every morning and have added fiber to my diet. The program has been successful. How wise is it to continue MiraLAX indefinitely? Should I worry about side effects? It has been quite pleasant to be free of constipation worries.

— Anon.

Answer iraLAX is a non-absorbable chemical called polyethylene glycol. It passes through your system, bringing water with it, which makes stool less hard and easier to pass. It is very safe for short-term use. If used excessively, it can pull sodium and potassium out of a person’s system. 

If you are taking in enough fiber, it should be possible to decrease the MiraLAX without worrying about constipation again, but it’s OK to use MiraLAX as needed. 

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual questions, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to [email protected]

© 2020 North America Synd., Inc.

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