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Medical forum: Bone disease affects productivity

Physicians at a scientific conference on back pain, osteoporosis, arthritis and rheumatic pains have said bad eating habits–particularly excessive consumption of fizzy drinks and fast food–and inadequate exercise combined with genetics are responsible for the spread of bone disease in Egypt.

Participants warned that rheumatoid arthritis can be debilitating and have harmful effects on the blood, lungs, eyes and other organs of the body and may eventually lead to death.

So far the causes of rheumatoid arthritis remain unknown, but some of the factors known to contribute to the condition are genetics, viral and bacterial infections, and the over-activity of the immune system which causes it to attack the cells of the body, they added.

Approximately 300 physicians as well as some of the most eminent professors and scientists in the field participated in the conference. Participants said Egyptian officials were becoming increasingly interested in bone disease because severe forms of the condition can affect the productivity of individuals and society in general.

The attendees pointed out the lack of accurate statistics on rheumatoid arthritis rates. Estimates, however, indicate that half of all individuals above the age of 40 suffer from osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), osteoarthritis and inflammation of the spinal joints represent the fourth most important causes of disability among women and the eighth most important cause of disability among men.

The same report produced by the WHO said that osteoarthritis rates may reach 18.2 percent by 2020 due to the increase in the number of elderly people.

At a press conference on the sidelines of the conference, Dr. Samir al-Badawi, a professor of rheumatism at Cairo University, said there is a need to find creative cures for bone disease which can be severely debilitating for people in different stages of their lives.

Salah al-Sharqawi, vice president of the company organizing the event, said there’s a need to take a greater interest in studies and statistics on disease rates in general in order to formulate the appropriate policies to combat diseases.

Ashraf al-Nahhal, professor of orthopedic surgery at Cairo University, said that excessive weight gain and lack of exercise are the chief causes of joint inflammation.

Dr. Nabil Khalifa, professor of orthopedics at Ain Shams University, said the use of tranquilizers to reduce pain is the worst way to treat bone disease. He added that people who have jobs that cause them to overload certain joints–such as traffic wardens–as well as people working in sedentary jobs are considered to be high risk categories.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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